The outcome we were looking for?

Catherine Naughton.
Posted on: Monday, 23rd September, 2013

How can you talk about outcome, when the meeting starts in a few hours? Well, you can already see the accessible version of the outcome document (OD) of the HLM DD on-line. It is great to see it already available in accessible formats.

The OD begins by reaffirming the commitment of the international community to the rights of persons with disabilities. It reminds us of the need to include persons with disabilities in the MDGs and the post-2015 framework. It calls for urgent action to adopt disability inclusive development strategies, and to implement the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

It goes on to list a few areas for particular attention, which are already outlined in the CRPD. Education, healthcare, social protection, employment and decent work, universal design, data and statistics, research, awareness raising, women and children with disabilities all get a mention. This is much in line with the already committed to CRPD. II (K) also urges member states and the UN to make humanitarian response and DRR inclusive, which is excellent and builds on article 11 and 32 of the CRPD. It will be wonderful if this is carried through to the post Hyogo framework.

International development banks and financial institutions are called on to take persons with disabilities into account in their development efforts and lending mechanisms. It will signify great progress when this happens: To see a world where all programmes supported by these institutions were fully inclusive of and accessible to person with disabilities. All infrastructure developed through loans could be accessible. All education progress funded through the World Bank could be fully inclusive of persons with disabilities. Poverty reduction and social protection programmes would assist person with disabilities and their families to access opportunities to come out of poverty. You can read more about LPHUs work to help to make this a reality here: World Bank Safeguards Campaign.

II (O) is the hardest paragraph of the OD to read, and to interpret. It includes many aspects of development. It begins with a call for resource mobilisation, and a variety of forms of international cooperation to mainstream disability in development programmes. In the same sentence there is reference to capacity building, transfer of technology, technical assistance and capacity building, assistive technology accessibility for persons with disabilities, and empowerment. The second sentence includes a range of concepts from the difficulty of developing countries to mobilise resources ‘to meet pressing needs in mainstreaming disability in development including rehabilitation, habilitation, equalization of opportunities for persons with disabilities, health promotion and public health campaigns for the prevention of diseases and in addressing social, environmental and health risk factors through, inter alia, improving health care, maternal health, access to vaccination, access to clean water supply and sanitation and safe transport’. A proverbial shopping list, and not at all easy to interpret.

Since the OD relates to including persons with disabilities in development cooperation, as stated in the principles of the OD, this paragraph refers to access for persons with disabilities to all public health programmes available to the general population, in line with the CRPD. While the list of health actions in the OD might be considered useful, I think we should keep to the principle that persons with disabilities have the right to access comprehensive healthcare services on an equal basis with others, which goes beyond the list of public health actions mentioned here. This would be in the spirit of the the World Health Assembly resolution of May 2013 which called on the WHO to develop a disability action plan, focusing on healthcare and rehabilitation for persons with disabilities. WHO is conducting an online consultation, and regional consultations, right now, to develop this. The OD comes at a good time to reinforce member states efforts in accessible and inclusive healthcare.

What does the OD say about the future? How will this be followed up?

It calls for persons with disabilities to be included in the international development framework, and UN operational activities. This is a must and the HLM will be a springboard for stronger actions. The UN Secretary General is called to report back on success in implementation of the OD, which will also be welcome. Importantly the second last paragraph underlines the importance of consultation with DPOs.

Lastly, the UN General Assembly is called on to include in its final progress report on the MDGs, the steps take to implement the outcome document.

So, this day, and this outcome document brings us a step closer to the situation CBM would like to see: in every development policy, and in every international cooperation effort, persons with disabilities are included.

Later on today, when the HLM in underway, we will hear member states tell us what their key plans are. Watch this space.

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