80% of persons with disabilities live in developing countries and have won a hard-fought role in designing and overseeing the Sustainable Development Goals at the United Nations. But they are still being left out of development policies and programmes by governments within their own countries.
International Disability Alliance
Leading disability rights advocates, representing every region of the world, participated in the 2016 session of the UN’s High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) to review progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 22 countries.
With the leadership of IDA, and in partnership with IDDC and other disability movements and organisations worldwide, persons with disabilities have been engaging and contributing to the HLPF and are now recognised as the Stakeholder Group of Persons with Disabilities.
While organizations of persons of disabilities are looking for opportunities to work with governments, many are being turned away. Public consultations often exclude persons with disabilities themselves, as well as their representative organizations. Even when wider civil society is invited to participate, meetings and documents are not accessible to many persons with disabilities, which excludes them from democratic processes.
Countries have committed to inclusion
The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) is the fastest ratified human rights treaty in history, with now 166 countries adopting it as national law. It requires governments to include representatives of persons with disabilities in all programs relating to them, reflecting the disability rights movement’s call for ‘nothing about us, without us.’
“Only by utilizing the CRPD as a guiding framework in implementing the SDGs, can we ensure that exclusion and inequality are not created or perpetuated. Persons with disabilities must be a part of identifying problems, and a part of building their solutions.”
Yetnebersh Nigussie, Light for the World
We must now turn our attention to bringing the progress at the global level to the local level, by supporting national planning, implementation and reviews that make the SDGs inclusive of persons with disabilities and their rights. The Stakeholder Group of Persons with Disabilities will remain active to connect this work to the global level reviews and coordination.
The real work of implementation over the next 15 years lies ahead, and it is critical that the rights and participation of persons with disabilities are guaranteed every step of the way in all countries.
José Maria Viera, World Blind Union
This article has been written in collaboration with the International Disability Alliance.