EDF Board Brussels 2018 Disability-inclusive SDGs
Door: Jolijn Santegoeds
20 Maart 2018 | België, Brussel
On Saturday 3 March 2018, the EDF Board meeting started with a thematic conference on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), to showcase how the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) should serve as a guiding framework for the “disability inclusive” implementation and monitoring of the SDGs in Europe and within its Member States, and to increase understanding and knowledge about the SDGs, and particularly the Voluntary National Review processes.
At 9 AM the conference was opened by Yannis Vardakastanis (EDF President)
Then, Johannes Trimmel (CONCORD president) gave an introduction to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and reflected on the “state of play”. The Sustainable Development Goals are accompanied by the “2030 Agenda”, which includes 17 SDGs, and sets concrete targets for development, to empower people at risk of vulnerability, and to “Leave No One Behind”.
In 2015, the UN CRPD Committee has recommended to the EU to adopt a harmonized policy on disability-inclusive development and establish a systematic approach. In 2017, a “European Consensus on Development” was adopted by the EU. The European Consensus is the EU response to the 2030 Agenda.
The next session was on Implementation and Monitoring of the SDGs: The Voluntary National Review processes and outcomes, by Thorkild Olesen, chairman of the Danish Disabled Person Organisation (DPOD). The progress of the SDGs is monitored via “Voluntary National Reviews”(VNRs) that countries themselves undertake. The country reports are presented at the “High Level Political Forum” (HLPF), held annually at the UN Headquarters in New York. So far there are 27 European countries participating in the Voluntary National Reviews, with varying levels of disability-inclusion. The quality of disability-inclusion in the VNR-report depends on who does the report and who is in charge. Sometimes there is only one ministry involved, while disability inclusion is a cross cutting topic. Some countries take as a baseline for measurement, the data of 2010 or 2015 (e.g. Eurostat). Fact is that national data is often not disaggregated on disability, which poses a challenge to monitor the rights of persons with disabilities.
Then a Case study was presented: The Voluntary National Review of Belgium.
Florence Pottiez (attached to the cabinet of the Prime Minister, Federal Council For Sustainable Development) and Anne-Sophie Dubrux (Conseil de la jeunesse, Federal Council For Sustainable Development) explained more about the various steps of the process in Belgium.
Pierre Gyselinck of the Belgian Disability Forum, illustrated that the process didn’t meaningfully include the representative organizations of persons with disabilities (DPOs).
Then there was time for questions from the floor, leading to an interesting and practical debate on how the Voluntary National Review process is shaped in practice.
After the coffee break, the final session of the thematic event on Sustainable Development Goals started, with the launch of the second EDF Human Rights Report, titled: “2030 Agenda and the SDGs: A European perspective to respect, protect and fulfil the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities”. The report contains a lot of practical data for EDF members to advocate for disability-inclusive SDGs. See the report via this link: http://www.edf-feph.org/newsroom/news/inclusive-sustainable-development-europe-new-report-european-disability-forum
Ana Pelaez Narvaez (EDF vice president) outlined the importance of the SDGs and disability-inclusion. 80% of persons with disabilities live in poverty.
Tove Sovndahl Gant (European External Action Service) explained that, although the SDGs are not binding in itself, the member states are bound by the UN CRPD and the Lisbon Treaty to implement the developments, and that the EU dialogues with states to address disability.
Immaculada Placencia Porrero (of the European Commission, DG EMPL: Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion) explained the importance of Agenda 2030 and the European Consensus on Development.
Cecile Grosjean (of the European Commission, DG DEVCO: Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development) explained that the EU is also committed to the inclusion of persons with disabilities in international development.
The key for sustainable disability-inclusive development is “Leaving nobody behind”.
The thematic conference then ended, and we had a lunch break.
From 14.00 on, the EDF Board meeting started with the adoption of agenda, and a report of the President and Executive Committee, followed by a dialogue on the European Pillar of Social Rights.
Personally, I made a remark on that there seems to be mix-up of goals and methods in the Pillar of Social Rights, because it seems like “work” is the goal and inclusion is a “method”, while it should be the other way around. The wordings of the Social Pillar give me worries, about “workcapacity defining social position??”(didn’t we learn from European history??), I'm concerned about the rise of outpatient forced treatment, about stigma, about “what is Europe building up?”.
In reply came an argument that “we have to work within the European system” and that is why “social rights” are mainly focussed on “the right to work”. But personally, this feels not really acceptable to me, because we actually have a deformed and ineffective system in Europe, where European legislation is shattered between the EU and the Council of Europe, and with limited competency over certain issues due to sovereignty of member states leading to a massive ineffectiveness. And as a result now the EUs scope of “social rights” is narrowed down to “the right to work”. I think that we, Europe, are passing a red line here. I don’t think this should continue. It only becomes more and more ineffective, deformed and far away from reality (and very costly too, and even dangerous). I don’t think this road will lead us to the better future we all want. In my opinion, some fundamental reforms in the governing structure of “Europe” are highly needed. It cannot go on like this. That’s my opinion on it. In the break, several people said they agreed with me.
After another coffee break, the board meeting continued with a review of activities 2017-2018, which included the EDF final report of 2017, a reflection and evaluation on the 4th European Parliament of Persons with Disabilities, and EDF Work plan for 2018.
Then we discussed the latest developments around European Accessibility Act (which is not perfect, but surely is a very important piece of legislation for Europe, to enable participation of persons with disabilities by making communities and services accessible). Lobbying is needed to maximize the outcome.
From 17.00 there were parallel meetings of Committees. One was on Social Policy and Inclusion, and the other on Human Rights and Non-Discrimination. I joined the Committee on Human Rights and Non-Discrimination, discussing about the scope, structure and content of the next EDF human rights report with the theme Equality and Non-Discrimination.
At 19.00 the meeting ended, and we had a free evening. I strolled into town to get some food and drink, and then I visited Pirrko in her room, and we had a nice chat, before going to bed. It had been a good day.
Sunday 4 March 2018 was the second day of the EDF Board meeting, starting at 9 AM.
We discussed the future of EU budget and structural funds, and then the two Committees reported back to the plenary. The next session contained an update on the CRPD and the Treaty Bodies, including the importance of lobbying the states to nominate strong persons with disabilities for the elections of the UN CRPD Committee.
Ana Palaez (EDF vice president) will be eligible for the UN CEDAW Committee (CEDAW is Convention to End Discrimination Against Women), and EDF supports her nomination, stressing she would be the first woman with a disability in CEDAW.
After the coffee break, there was an important session on the actions by EDF and its members to prevent the adoption of the Council of Europe’s “Draft Additional Protocol to the Oviedo Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine concerning the protection of human rights and dignity of persons with mental disorders with regard to involuntary placement and treatment”. This draft protocol goes fully against the UN CRPD, because it seeks to legitimize forced treatments, which the UN CRPD prohibits. The Council of Europe should therefore withdraw the draft. (also see point 9 in EDFs conclusion from the Board meeting: http://www.edf-feph.org/newsroom/news/edf-board-meeting-conclusions )
EDF will make a letter that can be used for lobbying to the ministries and the country representatives in the DH Bioethics Committee of the Council of Europe, and convince them to vote against the Draft Protocol. Everyone is invited to join the campaign, to convince the Council of Europe DH BIO Committee and the member states that the Draft Protocol needs to be withdrawn.
For more information on the substance, see the joint statement issued by ENUSP and MHE on this topic: https://mhe-sme.org/statement-of-enusp-and-mental-health-europe-on-additional-protocol/
We also discussed the Financial issues (Interim report), and we heard an interesting message of the Turkish Federation of Persons with Disabilities, who informed us on their project of Homerous Days, to be held in Troy, Turkey in August 2018.
The next topic for discussion was the European Disability Strategy (not perfect, but surely valuable)
And we had a discussion on Disability Signage and Pictograms, which are being developed and will need more attention from DPOs from around the world.
Around 13.00 the Board meeting ended, and after saying goodbye, I walked to Brussels Central, and took a train back to Eindhoven, the Netherlands.
It had been an interesting meeting.
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Je kunt nu ook Smileys gebruiken. Via de toolbar, toetsenbord of door eerst : te typen en dan een woord bijvoorbeeld :smiley