Thursday, June 16, 2011

Day 6: CDLP NUI Galway & Harvard Disability Project Summer School

by Mary Keogh

Day 6 brought the final day of the summer school to a close. Janet Lord and Rosemary Kayees facilitated the morning session and the topic was international cooperation (Article 32). Janet started the discussion giving a background as to why disability is an important development issue. Janet cited figures such as 1 billion people with disabilities worldwide, with approximately 80% living in developing countries. The high statistics coupled with the recognition of the intersection of poverty and disability combine to make the livelihood of people with disabilities in developing countries extremely vulnerable.

In outlining the impetus for the development of the CRPD, Janet highlighted that the invisibility of disability in the human rights system combined with the invisibility of disability in development were the driving factors behind the need for the Convention. Additionally billions of aid is given by donor countries on an annual basis and the marginalization of disability as a development issue, began to emerge as a concern for many multilateral and bilateral agencies. Janet outlined how during the negotiations, many of the lead governments were developing countries and that they pressed for the incorporation of an explicit development dimensions into the treaty text. The governments taking this lead included Mexico, Ecuador, South Africa, Sierra Leone etc. The result was a treaty text with development referenced throughout and also an explicit Article on International Cooperation – Article 32.

Article 32 asks States to ensure that international cooperation, including “international development programmes, is inclusive of and accessible to persons with disabilities”. As States implement the Convention, Article 32 has particular significance for bilateral donor agencies in their development policies and programmes. Janet and Rosemary and Mary Keogh, a PhD student from the Centre for Disability Law and Policy, gave three case studies of bilateral agencies and their work on disability. The agencies were USAID, the US donor agency, AusAid, the Australian donor agency and the Minister for Foreign Affairs in Finland.

USAID: Janet gave an overview of USAID and its policy and practice on disability. Starting with the USAID 1997 Disability Policy paper, which was a non-binding guidance, grounded in the principles of non-discrimination reflecting US disability rights. This was followed by a USAID policy in 2004 with specific objectives. Additionally USAID has policy directives that require all contractors working with USAID to adhere to standards of accessibility in all new construction and well as renovations. Janet outlined the recent developments in USAID, which included the appointment of a Disability Advisor at the Department of State and an appointment of a disability, and Inclusive Development Coordinator at USAID.

AUSAID: Rosemary gave an overview of the development of AUSAIDs policy on Disability - Development for All. AUSAIDs policy is one of the newest policies developed published in 2008. Its publication was the culmination of a long process of consultation with persons with disabilities and their interest groups. The policy is guided by six general principles. They are as follows: ensuring an active central role by persons with disabilities; recognition and respect for rights; respect and understanding of diversity; taking the interaction of gender and disability into account; focusing on children; and supporting people and partnerships. The policy identifies three core outcomes and two enabling outcomes as its focus. The Core outcomes are; to support persons with disabilities to improve the quality of their lives across all facets of social, economic, political participation; to reduce preventable impairments - initially focusing on blindness and road safety; for AusAID to model good practice and become an effective leader regarding disability and development on a global level - this includes supporting persons with disabilities in developing their own leadership potential and skills as the first level of action. The enabling outcomes are to capacity-build within AusAID itself regarding disability and development; an improved understanding of disability and development through developing strategic partnerships with policy staff, DPO’s, partner countries, to ensure robust data and research on people with disabilities is captured.

Ministry for Foreign Affairs (Finland): Finland’s 2004 cooperation policy and its most recent development policy (2007) recognize disability as a cross-cutting issue that is incorporated across its work and policies. Underpinning Finland’s policy document is the concept and goal of achieving ecologically sustainable development and the eradication of poverty. The policy is informed and guided by the Millennium Development Goals and founded on respect for and promotion of human rights. Finland approach to including disability in its development aid can be described as a three- track approach to including persons with disabilities. The three track approach is described as (1) mainstreaming disability in all sectors and accommodating persons with disabilities on the basis of equal and universal human rights approaches; (2) complementing universal provisions with targeted additional support and (3) services to equalize access and opportunities and empower persons with disabilities to have a stronger voice and ensuring disability is a cross cutting issues across all country and multilateral negotiations.

Janet drew the session to a close giving examples of Disability Inclusive Programming looking at governance, such as access to voting and building the capacity of Disabed Peoples organisations to have their voice heard. Finally, some questions were posed for consideration when it comes to thinking about disability and development. The questions were:

  • What are the likely barriers to disability inclusion in development projects?
  • What are the possible entry points for disability inclusion? What specific aspects of the development project can you identify that would benefit from a disability dimension?
  • What specific strategies for inclusion might enhance the participation of persons with disabilities in a project?
  • What is the legal basis for disability inclusion? Be specific, either in identifying provisions of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities or areas in domestic law and policy that might be relevant for the development project. (Move beyond Article 32)