Tag Archives: 2030 Agenda

Opening doors for positive change that will end discrimination and ensure our freedom and rights


The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, together with its Optional Protocol (which provides for the right of individual petition to the Committee), was adopted on 13th December 2006. The Convention rapidly came into force in May 2008, and has retained its momentum in rate of ratifications – to date 170 countries have ratified the Convention.  See a map of country ratifications here.
To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, you can read about many global activities, along with highlights over the last 10 years here.  The United Nation’s annual photograph and film festival on 3rd December showcases the best global contributions, and includes a short film by CBM Australia linking the Sustainable Development Goals and disability rights.
CBM International supported the design of the official Office of the High Commission for Human Rights logo and animated icons for the 10th anniversary, as well captioning and sign language for a film by members of the Expert Committee on the Convention, and a beautiful musical recital by Dame Evelyn Glennie in Geneva.

Musical recital by Dame Evelyn Glennie in Geneva

Musical recital by Dame Evelyn Glennie in Geneva

Today is a time to reflect on the participation of persons with disabilities, and their representative organisations who inspired the drafting process of the Convention. The United Nations General Assembly in New York constantly supported the active involvement of disability organizations in the drafting of the Convention. A broad coalition of organisations of persons with disabilities and allied NGOs formed the International Disability Caucus, the unified voice of organizations of people with disabilities from all regions of the world. One of its members stated that its goal was “to open doors for positive change that will end discrimination and ensure our freedom and rights”. The level of participation of organisations of persons with disabilities and NGOs in the drafting process was probably unprecedented in United Nations human rights treaty negotiations. By the Ad Hoc Committee’s final session, some 800 organisations of persons with disabilities were registered.
Beyond the negotiations, organisations of persons with disabilities have been actively involved in the lifecycle of the Convention. They were closely involved in the signing ceremony on 30 March 2007 and have been involved in the work of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the Conference of States Parties and the Human Rights Council’s annual debates on the Convention. I have been a member of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities since 2013.


Please join in the celebration the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all persons with disabilities.

Inclusive humanitarian action – Africa leads the way

The 4th Annual International Humanitarian Partnership Conference, organised under the Inter Agency Working Group on Disaster Preparedness for East & Central Africa (IAWG), has just finished in Nairobi. It was a pleasure to attend, and to have the chance to contribute. And it was an inspiration to all who are advocating for meaningful inclusion in humanitarian action.

I embolden the word ‘meaningful’ because I see a difference emerging in the rhetoric at these events. Attendees are now generally aware of the statistics like one billion persons with disabilities worldwide, and the fact that people with disabilities are disproportionately affected in disaster and conflict situations. But now, it seems we are moving on, and really identifying the causes and solutions.

The theme at this year’s conference was ‘Disability and Age Inclusion in Humanitarian Practice: Scaling up progress toward the achievement of Agenda 2030‘. The timing is good: In the last 18 months we’ve seen the adoption of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR), the release of the related Dhaka Declaration, and the launch of the Charter on Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action. And of course we have the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities which marks 10 of existence this year.

These documents provide the foundations. We are now ready to build, and I saw evidence of this over the last few days.

Many speakers highlighted in their presentations that if we are to achieve inclusion as an end result, then we need to ensure inclusion from the outset. What does this mean? It means that persons with disabilities – usually through Disabled People’s Organisations (DPOs) – must be part of policy-making and planning of humanitarian action. And this should not be simply ‘checkbox attendance’, but should be meaningful (that word again) participation.

There was a real appreciation during the event of the various unique skills and knowledge of the individuals present and of the organisations they represent (from humanitarian organisations, to DPOs, to organisations of older people). So much so that hands shot up at the end when asked who has specialist knowledge to share. One participant neatly described it as ‘organisations helping each other through the baby steps of learning inclusion’.  Call it baby steps or not, I’m sure there will be much networking and cross-learning to come.

A regional working group on inclusion was proposed, and widely seconded.

And there was a general acceptance of the fact that to achieve this ‘first phase’ inclusion, organisations need a smarter hiring process and accessible infrastructure. All good news.

For me, I was delighted to present our new Humanitarian Hands-on Tool, which is still a prototype but well on the way to release. Feedback on this was positive. We are at the point where the basic nuts and bolts guidance is necessary for field workers tasked with inclusive preparedness and response initiatives. Watch this space for this one.

Of course, the need for data disaggregated by disability was raised. This is not an afterthought: It is an ongoing concern across all the 2015 agenda fields, an essential prerequisite if we are to deliver aid that works for everyone.

Lastly, a telling point was when asked who is responsible for ensuring inclusion, we came to the conclusion that we all are.  I look forward to the future.

Read some of the social media buzz as it happened



The SDGs and persons with disabilities in Peru

On 22-23 August, Alba Gonzalez and I provided a CBM-funded national training on the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) in Lima, Peru. We presented to leaders from organizations of persons with disabilities (DPOs) and allies, some of whom are CBM partners. Although I have given various national trainings on the SDGs this year, this was the first one in Spanish. This is extremely important since Latin America is often left out of global development processes, particularly in terms of the SDGs. I am proud to have carried out the training with my lovely Brussels-based colleague, Alba and the support of my wonderful Guatemala-based colleague, Gonna! Thank you both for the stellar work and support.

Alt="Alba, Elizabeth, and a DPO leader at the training in Peru"

Alba, Elizabeth, and a DPO leader at the training in Peru

National SDG trainings such as these are incredibly valuable because CBM and other civil society organizations working on the 2030 Agenda have a responsibility to ensure that the grassroots are kept informed and are able to contribute in a meaningful way. One way to do this is to provide an exchange of information and tools on advocacy strategies related to the implementation of the SDGs.

Alt="Group work during the training"

Group work during the training

The training was interactive and provided space for an engaging dialogue from which ideas, lessons, and suggestions were shared. We presented general information on the global agenda and how it relates to persons with disabilities. Additionally, we discussed how the SDGs and CRPD are connected and how they can reinforce and complement one another in advocacy. Furthermore, we provided background on the global follow-up and review process with a recap of this year’s High-level Political Forum (HLPF), lessons learned from engagement in the voluntary national review (VNR) process, and strategies on how to engage in future HLPFs. Finally, we provided a model for national advocacy strategies on the SDGs and in turn participants formulated plans on how to advocate for the inclusion of persons with disabilities in the national implementation of the SDGs.

Peru is a strategic country on which to focus, since it is very likely that it will provide a voluntary national review to the HLPF in the coming years and persons with disabilities must engage in the consultation process to be included. Latin American governments that reviewed at this year’s HLPF – Colombia, Mexico, and Venezuela – did not engage with civil society in the reporting process, also including persons with disabilities, so this is a region of particular importance in which to focus.

During the training, participants provided examples of barriers that persons with disabilities encounter in Peru to carry out effective advocacy, which are listed below.

Alt="Alba Gonzalez presenting at the SDG training in Peru"

Alba Gonzalez presenting at the SDG training in Peru

  • There is a lack of available information on advocacy for persons with disabilities and their families at the national and regional levels.
  • Mainstream society has a general lack of awareness and/or negative/medically-focused attitude about disability/persons with disabilities.
  • There is a dearth of available and accurate data on persons with disabilities.
  • There is a lack of transparency in the government.
  • In rural areas there is limited access to technology and Internet due to lack of electricity.
  • There is a need for capacity building on advocacy strategies.
  • The majority of persons with disabilities lives in poverty or extreme poverty.
  • There is limited accessible, affordable, and reliable transportation.
  • There is little participation of persons with disabilities in broader civil society networks, and mainstream civil society organizations do not always include DPOs.
  • Disability groups can isolate themselves around disability type and do not always collaborate as a broader coalition.
  • There can be a lack of empowerment and lack of strong leadership in DPOs.
Alt="Elizabeth fostering discussion during the training"

Elizabeth fostering discussion during the training

The group formulated suggestions on how to effectively advocate for the inclusion of persons with disabilities in national implementation of the SDGs, which are below.

  • Identify entry points for advocacy for DPOs in different regions and levels of government (municipal, district, provincial, regional, and national) in Peru.
  • Collaborate as a larger disability movement to gain more effective entry points in national advocacy.
  • Build alliances with NGOs and civil society organizations across thematic areas.
  • Lima-based DPOs engage in the implementation of the SDGs in line with the CRPD with DPO leaders participating in national civil society roundtables and creating a national plan on accessibility.
  • Carry out a training on accessibility and advocacy for different DPO leaders to strengthen DPOs and to unify the disability movement.

It was such a pleasure for me to return to Latin America where I have lived and worked, to meet old and new CBM partners, as well as to work with and learn from DPOs and allies in Peru. Let’s continue the global and grassroots linkages.


A snapshot of the SDGs and persons with disabilities in Rwanda

From 25-26 July, I was fortunate enough to give a training on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to organizations of persons with disabilities (DPOs) in beautiful Rwanda. This training was generously supported by the Disability Rights Fund (DRF) and I presented on behalf of the International Disability Alliance (IDA) and the International Disability and Development Consortium (IDDC). I also had the true pleasure to get to know the lovely Eugenie Mukantagwera, Country Representative of the CBM Rwanda Country Office, as well as meet some of CBM’s partners.

Alt="Eugenie Mukantagwera participating in the training on the SDGs "

Eugenie Mukantagwera participating in the training on the SDGs

It was an incredible experience to work with a nascent, inclusive, and diverse disability movement. Moreover, the strong motivation to meaningfully engage in advocacy was pervasive among the group. I learned a significant amount from the participants, which greatly helps to strengthen our work at the global level.

We had fruitful discussions and presentations and from these emerged strategies for persons with disabilities to engage in advocacy of national implementation of the SDGs, including:

  1. Find gap in which persons with disabilities are left out.
  2. Advocate with the confident knowledge of that gap.
  3. Work and collaborate with institutions.
  4. Write a policy brief and share with the government.
  5. Represent your constituency in a meaningful way.

Participants discussed and synthesized effective suggestions for DPOs to engage in SDG advocacy at the national level, which are listed below.

  • The starting point for advocacy in SDG implementation in Rwanda is the civil society platform and then to join the working group sectors (government, private, and civil society sectors).
  • The role of DPOs in the SDGs can be to monitor and evaluate the national implementation, but also must have the tools to carry out monitoring and evaluation.
  • DPOs must have strategic engagement by reviewing policies and plans, packaging information for dissemination, and engaging policy makers with concise policy briefs to demonstrate what DPOs are contributing.
  • Obtain rigorous and valid data and evidence inclusive of persons with disabilities that can be communicated.
  • DPOs must be mutually accountable with relevant stakeholders, and must be accountable to hold others accountable.
  • Carry out stakeholder reviews of progress via workshops and dialogues.
  • Create networks with CSOs, international NGOs, and rights groups.
  • Mainstream disability rights through legal frameworks.
  • Provide transfer of knowledge to others (DPOs and others) to advocate in other places because it is not possible to advocate everywhere.
Alt="Group discussion in Rwanda"

Group discussion in Rwanda

Participants and panelists shared that the Rwandan government is quite active in SDG implementation. Thus, it is important to share these valuable findings to reinforce the linkages between the global and grassroots levels in the implementation of the SDGs.

Rwanda is a stellar example of a country that is linking the global SDG indicators to its national development framework. Global indicators are being analyzed in the context of the national development framework in four ways:

  1. The national development framework has indicators that are reflected in the global SDG indicators.
  2. The national development framework has indicators that are partially reflected in the global SDG indicators.
  3. Indicators that are not reflected in the national development framework, but are important and can be adapted.
  4. Indicators that are not included in the national development framework and cannot be adapted.

Currently the SDG focal point in Rwanda is the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, although a strategy is in the pipeline to create a position within the government. Rwanda plans to integrate the SDGs into different sectors and into long-term strategic plans.

Alt="Stellar collaboration: Elizabeth Lockwood from CBM, Sam Munana, Rwandan National Union of the Deaf, and Jorge Manhique from Disability Rights Fund"

Elizabeth Lockwood from CBM, Sam Munana from the Rwandan National Union of the Deaf, and Jorge Manhique from Disability Rights Fund

There are existing entry points for DPOs to actively engage in the SDG implementation process such as participating in civil society platforms and working groups, as well as engaging with other civil society organizations and movements. I look forward to learning more about the inclusion of persons with disabilities in the implementation of the SDGs in Rwanda.