Conference: High Level Political Forum 2019

Conference: High Level Political Forum 2019
New York, U.S.A.,

23 July 2019

The High Level Political Forum (HLPF) is now over! The European Disability Forum was very well represented this year once again at this important global event, with the presence of Kamil Goungor, the Chair of EDF’s Youth Committee, and Marion Steff, our SDGs Coordinator. We succeeded in ensuring a strong visibility for the European Disability movement, while working closely with the Stakeholder Group of Persons with Disabilities, the International Disability Alliance, and other organisations from all over the globe.


The HLPF was established to bring together governments, civil society, and business to monitor, review and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the 2030 Agenda. This event, took place at the United Nations Headquarters in New York and lasts for 11 days. The theme of the HLPF this year was “Empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality”.

Six goals were reviewed in depth:

The HLPF in numbers

Numbers are here to attest the scope of the event, with a remarkable interest by all parties:

  • More than 2000 participants;
  • 130 speakers in panels;
  • More than 125 Heads and Deputy Heads of States and Government, Ministers, Vice-Ministers and other Ministerial Officials;
  • 47 Voluntary National Reviews, including seven by European Countries;
  • 90+ disability activists, including two EDF representatives: Kamil Goungor (EDF), Marion Steff (EDF Secretariat) as well as Annika De Maeyer from the Swiss Association of the Deaf and Mette Muller Kristensen and Thorkild Olesen from Disabled People’s Organisations Denmark.

Our work

EDF followed the main sessions of the HLPF and participated in side-events, while networking in bilateral meetings whenever possible. In addition, we were involved in the following:

Official speech on education

Kamil Goungor was selected by the Stakeholder Group of Persons with Disabilities to represent the disability movement at the official session reviewing goal 4 on education. Kamil explained that it is vital to invest in an inclusive education system. Segregation must be avoided at all costs. Children and youth with disabilities should be involved in the decision-making processes concerning their education and employment together with consultation of DPOs in the policy making and implementation. There should be support available to allow children and youth with disabilities to attend inclusive schools, with training and support for staff so schools can assist adequately for their students’ needs.

Side event on Reducing Inequalities

We organised in collaboration with the Stakeholder Group of Persons with Disabilities a side event titled “Reducing inequalities: A look at persons with disabilities”. The side-event was on the 10th July, in collaboration with the Delegation of the European Union to the United Nations, Permanent Missions of Australia, Luxembourg and the Republic of Zambia to the United Nations, the International Disability Alliance, CBM, UNESCO Global Education Monitoring Report, UN OHCHR, Equinet, Leonard Cheshire, Bridging the Gap project, Humanity & Inclusion, Disabled People’s Organisations Denmark and EDF.

The event was moderated by Mohammed Ali Loutfy, from Disabled People’s International based in Lebanon. Kamil Goungor delivered a speech on education in the EU while Thorkild Olesen spoke about employment. Other speakers cover other aspects in link to the themes being reviewed this year including climate change and inequalities.

Jesús Orus Baguena, representing the European Commission, presented the perspective of the European Union (EU). Mr Orus Baguena provided an overview on the instruments in EU disability policy such as the European Disability Strategy 2010-2020, which comes an end and its implementation must evaluated, and the European Pillar of Social Rights, adopted in  2017. One of its main achievements is the increase of employment opportunities for persons with disabilities. Mr Orus Baguena announces that “during the period 2014-2020, the European Structural and Investment Fund allocated approximately 45 billion€ for social inclusion, 41 billion€ for employment and 35 billion€ to invest in education. Those investments target also persons with disabilities ». Mr Orus Baguena explained that reducing inequalities is a priority of the EU’s external action, exemplified in the European Consensus on Development adopted in 2017 where “eradicating poverty, tackling discriminations and inequalities and leaving no-one behind are at the heart of EU development cooperation policy”. The Consensus also pledges to “vigorously promote the rights of persons with disabilities and ensure their full participation in society.”Since 2010, the EU has funded at least more than 400 disability-specific projects in over 100 countries, in partnership with civil society, and in support of  governments. The importance of dialogue and cooperation with DPOs is highlighted and its contribution is appreciated.  Mr Orus Baguena regrets not having enough statistical tools to report the development, the reason why the EU has created the DAC disability marker, which now has to inform all EU development aid.

Side event and Report launch

On the 11th July, we took part in the report launch named ‘Falling through the cracks: Exposing inequalities in the European Union and beyond’ published by SDG Watch Europe, together with other organisations. The main focus is on SDG 10 in Europe and the impact on inequalities in other countries. The report provides national pictures of the various forms of inequalities and an overview of inequalities at the EU level.

EDF contributed to the report with a chapter looking at the specific situation and discrimination faced by persons with disabilities in Europe. Our contribution was taken from on our latest Human Rights Report on ‘Ensuring the rights of persons with disabilities to equality and non-discrimination in the European Union’, published in 2019.

The document also focuses on different dimensions of inequalities in its thematic chapters.

The report is structured around:

  • 15 national reports highlighting the state of inequalities in each of the participating countries
  • 11 thematic chapters on individual, but interrelated dimensions of inequality
  • EU-level analysis of Europe-wide trends relating to inequalities, the European Union’s commitments in the fight against inequalities, as well as a comparative analysis of how EU member countries have performed

EDF representative Kamil Goungour presented the inequalities experienced by persons with disabilities in Europe and provided recommendations. Actions to achieve Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 10 – Reduced inequalities – and all the interlinked SDGs, must be undertaken in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

While the EU and its Member States have pledged to ensure the rights of persons with disabilities by ratifying the CRPD and have taken some practical steps on inclusion, there are still considerable gaps in protection against discrimination on the grounds of disability. The 2019 EDF Human Rights report calls on the EU to adopt broad and ambitious legislation that protects all people from all forms of discrimination. Such legislation has never been adopted, despite years of calls by anti-discrimination groups.

National Voluntary Review

During the second week, countries presented their national voluntary reviews. Seven European countries took part in the exercise, with all having a strong inclusion of persons with disabilities. Each voluntary national review is available below by clicking on each country:

  • Bosnia and Herzegovina (96 pages; 17 references to persons with disabilities)
  • Croatia (109 pages; 41 references to persons with disabilities)
  • Iceland (151 pages; 56 references to persons with disabilities)
  • Lichtenstein (77 pages ; 6 references to persons with disabilities)
  • Serbia (103 pages; 59 references to persons with disabilities)
  • Turkey (149 pages; 77 references to persons with disabilities)
  • United Kingdom (235 pages; 166 references to persons with disabilities)

New resources on the SDGs

We have published a flyer on the SDGs in all EU languages, Easy-to-Read English and in International Sign. It clearly explains what the SDGs are, how are persons with disabilities included and what can you do to contribute. We also highlight the importance of data in the SDGs and for data to be disaggregated by disability.

We have also launched a set of videos on 7 SDGs, which exemplifies how the life of persons with disabilities will improve if we achieve the 2030 Agenda.