Since 1992, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) has been celebrated annually on 3 December around the world. At the European level, we mark this time annually through the European Day of Persons with disabilities. This year’s conference took place on 29-30 November in Brussels with the theme: ‘Marking 10 years since the adoption of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with disabilities’.
Internationally, the theme of 3rd of December this year is ‘Achieving 17 Goals for the Future We Want’. The UN adopted 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and EDF has reported on the success of the disability movement in achieving a far higher level of inclusion of persons with disabilities in the SDGs, than in the previous international framework, the Millennium Development Goals.
The objectives of this year’s International Day include assessing the current status of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) and SDGs and laying the foundation for a future of greater inclusion for persons with disabilities. Today, we cannot fully assess to what extent the EU and its member states are including persons with disabilities in their work on the SDGs. Therefore, EDF will work this year with partners towards the publication of our second European human rights report, which will aim to present an overview of how inclusive the EU and members states are till now in their work on the SDGs.
There has been one interesting recent development at the EU level: the publication of the European Commission’s Communication on the review of the EU Consensus on Development. The original Consensus, a development policy from 2005, did not make any commitment to making development cooperation inclusive of persons with disabilities. The Commission’s recent communication reflected some major progress. The Communication refers to ‘leaving no one behind’ and mentions persons with disabilities specifically. Women with disabilities are also referred to in a description on gender equality, and the right to work and equal participation of persons with disabilities is also included.
However, EDF was disappointed to see no reference to the CRPD and a range of other specific commitments towards disability inclusive development from the SDGs, including accessibility. EDF cooperated with the other regional networks of persons with disabilities to advocate to the EU in advance of this publication on the EU Consensus. We will continue to follow this up in the coming year. As the world’s largest donor, the EU has a huge role to play in using its international cooperation to ensure that all development is inclusive and accessible. It should ensure no EU aid is used to segregate people and to create barriers. Each new SDG initiative should be designed to fully include women, men and children with disabilities.
We need to ensure that the SDGs truly leave no-one behind and that the human rights of persons with disabilities are central to all the EU’s international cooperation. We have seen the words. Now it is time for action!