28 November 2006, Brussels
The vast majority - 80% - of the 650 million persons with disabilities worldwide live in developing countries. Disabled persons are disproportionately represented amongst the poorest persons in the world. 20% of the world's poorest people are disabled. CBM and Light for the World called for attention to be given to this often forgotten development issue at the first European Conference on the new UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities held in Brussels on 20-21 November 2006.
A unique gathering of key decision makers and experts from the United Nations, the OHCR, EU member state Government officials, the EU institutions, the World Bank and disability and development NGOs came together in Brussels on 20-21 November. The Conference formulated a strategy to promote the UN Convention and its role in advancing development policies inclusive of disability.
Interesting examples were presented of successful development projects already including disability. Hazel Jones, of Loughborough University, explained of how WEDC had engaged with engineers to make water and sanitation programmes accessible for persons with disabilities. 'Making people independent and giving them the chance to contribute to their family by, for example, fetching water at an accessible water pump is all about achieving poverty reduction targets', Hazel Jones pointed out.
Shuaib Chalklen, CEO of the African Decade of Persons with Disabilities, emphasized the need to focus efforts on disability inclusion across existing priorities of African Governments. He called for support from EU Governments and NGOs in this effort particularly now at this crucial time with the dawning of a new international Convention on disability rights.
The Conference participants called for all future spending and policies by, and of, the EU and the EU member states to fully respect the terms of the UN Convention - notably the International Cooperation Article 32 of the Convention.
In his closing speech, Koos Richelle, Director General of Europe Aid of the European Commission, referring to the 2005 European consensus on development replied: 'We have set ourselves the task of achieving inclusive development'. Koos Richelle gave, as a concrete example, the new EU development cooperation instrument - 20% of this instrument is to be spent on social services and has to be spent in an inclusive way.
'We all have to concentrate our energies over the next weeks and months on the campaign for Member State signatures and ratification of the Convention. We have to spread the word about the existence of this new historic Treaty which will empower persons with disabilities in the poorest communities across the world', concluded Kalle Konkkola, Chair of the two day Event and well known Finnish disability and development activist.
Negotiations for the UN Convention began in 2002. The General Assembly will adopt the Convention in December this year during its 61st session with final discussions to take place on 5 December 2006.
For more information contact:
Barbara Oosters tel+ 322 256 90 91 email: Barbara.email@example.com
Sophie Beaumont tel.: +32 2 275 0085, fax.:+322 275 0093
This Conference was organised by CBM (International) and LIGHT FOR THE WORLD (Austria), and is part of the IDDC project 'Breaking the cycle of poverty and disability in Development Cooperation' - Disability Mainstreaming in Development Cooperation - supported by DG Employment and Social Affairs of the European Commission, and implemented in partnership with AIFO (Italy), Handicap International (France, Luxembourg), DCDD (Netherlands), eRko (Slovakia), Healthlink (UK), PHOS (Belgium), SHIA (Sweden), DPI (Italia), Groupement Français des Personnes Handicapées (France), National Disability Council of the Netherlands (Netherlands).
View the photos of the Brussels conference