On the 15th of June 2022, a delegation of Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) met with us and with representatives of the International Disability Alliance (IDA) on the margins of the 15th Conference of States Parties (COSP) to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).
- How to work Parliaments and Parliamentarians can support disability rights;
- How to support people and organisations in litigation;
- How to implement the outcomes of the conference and advance disability rights.
- The EU’s involvement in development programmes.
Dragoş PÎSLARU, Chair of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs and the Disability Intergroup, emphasised the importance of civil society to the Conference of States Parties. He discussed how Members of the European Parliament could support organisations of persons with disabilities.
Yannis Vardakastanis, the chair of the International Disability Alliance, underlined the importance of having a delegation from the European Parliament at the Conference of State Parties. He shared the crucial role that Civil Society Organisations had in negotiating the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD): “this negotiation process was a revolution for the disability movement and all activists and organisations involved”. He added that “to this day, the EU is still the only regional integration organisation to have ratified the CRPD …”
Jose Viera, Head of Policy, described the work of the International Disability Alliance, a key player in the Conference of States Parties. He reminded participants of the obligations of State Parties “to ensure that all their actions within the framework of international cooperation, including development programmes, are inclusive and accessible to people with disabilities”. He also shared his wish to increase the EU involvement in the Global Action on Disability (GLAD) network. He concluded by sharing that the next Global Disability Summit will be held in Berlin, in 2025 (hosted by Jordan and Germany).
MEP Katrin LANGENSIEPEN, Vice-Chair of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs and Chair of the Disability Intergroup, brought up the issue of using litigation in cases of discrimination on the grounds of disability. This led to a discussion on the expenses faced in these situations. Participants shared good practices, such as the Court Challenges Program of Canada (CCP) which supports the legal actions of persons with disabilities.
MEP Alex AGIUS SALIBA, Vice-Chair of the Committee on Petitions and Member of the Disability Intergroup, spoke about the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. He described it as a “perfect document, but the problem is, what do we do with it”. He described that current-day legislation regulating the internet – now a public utility – fails to include the Convention or accessibility.