The HLPF is over, now what?

The High-level Political Forum took place from 9-18 July and focused on transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) under review included 6, 7, 11, 12, 15, and 17. During the second week, 46 countries presented their Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) on SDG implementation. During these VNR presentations, persons with disabilities were included 36 times largely stemming from advocacy from various stakeholders at the global, regional, and national levels via the Stakeholder Group of Persons with Disabilities.

Alt="Our DPO partner, Mohammed Loutfy, speaking about persons with disabilities in Lebanon to Ghasan Hasbani Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Health of Lebanon at the HLPF"

Our DPO partner, Mohammed Loutfy, speaking about persons with disabilities to Ghasan Hasbani Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Health of Lebanon at the HLPF

 

The 36 references include references to persons with disabilities in VNR presentations, civil society presentations with questions to the government, and/or government responses to other government or civil society questions. The countries in bold are where CBM was directly or indirectly involved in advocacy. Thank you to everyone who helped in this process!

 

 

 

Andorra, Australia, Bahamas, Benin, Cabo Verde, Canada, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Greece, Ireland, Jamaica, Kiribati, Lao PDR, Latvia, Lebanon, Lithuania, Mali, Malta, Mexico, Namibia, Niger, Palestine, Paraguay, Poland, Romania, Senegal, Singapore, Slovakia, Spain, Sudan, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, Uruguay, and Vietnam.

Now that the HLPF has concluded, it is important for DPOs and advocates to follow up with their government to assess outcomes and build partnerships at the national level. Not all countries have HLPF follow-up mechanisms in place, but it is important to remind political leaders that this is not a one-time obligation, but rather that this needs to be an ongoing permanent dialogue. The national follow-up mechanism should be a constructive approach to address issues raised in the global-level review process, or issues that have been left out. The following are some key points on how to initiate and participate in a follow-up process after the HLPF at the national level:

  • Watch your country’s voluntary national review on UN Web TV and in addition analyze the submissions (short and long) written reports (in some cases the reports differ from the presentations). On the basis of the analysis, prepare an advocacy paper highlighting issues that were addressed and also those left out.
  • Find out if there is a follow-up mechanism on the HLPF planned by your government.
  • (Re)connect with mainstream civil society coalitions to collaborate and propose to the government to establish a follow-up mechanism.
  • Contact and arrange meetings with the Ministry/Minister who presented at the HLPF with your advocacy paper prepared (refer above).
  • Advocate to establish synergies with other existing national follow-up or review mechanisms, such as national consultations on the SDG implementation plan, national development plan (often linked to the SDGs), and national human rights review mechanisms.
  • Propose a partnership to your government and consider engaging with the International Disability Alliance and International Disability and Development Consortium Partnership on SDGs.

These suggestions are from the CBM and International Disability Alliance Toolkit for DPOs on the Voluntary National Reviews.

Additional Information:

Resilient societies, the SDGs, and leaving no one behind

Resilient societies, the SDGs, and leaving no one behind

The High-level Political Forum took place from 9-18 July at the UN in New York with the theme of “transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies.” The Goals under review included 6, 7, 11, 12, 15, and 17. The first week of the Forum included numerous panels and round tables focused on the theme and the SDGs under review and the second week provided the Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs).

On a very positive note for persons with disabilities and accessibility, Maria Soledad Cisternas Reyes, the UN’s Special Envoy on Disability and Accessibility presented in the opening of the Forum. Her presentation focused on different areas, including accessibility. For example, she stated that if technology is not accessible, it will become one more barrier for millions of people throughout the world, such as, persons with disabilities, older persons and other sectors. In addition, persons with disabilities made up a large group at the Forum with 31 participants with disabilities and advocates from around the world as part of the Stakeholder Group of Persons with Disabilities.

Alt="Participants of the Stakeholder Group of Persons with Disabilities at HLPF 2018"

Participants of the Stakeholder Group of Persons with Disabilities at HLPF 2018

CBM co-sponsored a side event the first week with the Stakeholder Group of Persons with Disabilities and others on Goal 11: Inclusion of persons with disabilities in societies. The event was very well attended with 70 attendees and had an interactive and lively dialogue.

During the second week, 46 countries presented their national reviews of SDG implementation. During these three Ministerial days of VNR presentations, persons with disabilities were included 36 times. In addition, some national videos included captions, one video (from Ireland) included a deaf child signing, and Namibia included a Namibian Sign Language interpreter on the screen for its entire video!

Also, six persons with disabilities presented official statements with questions to countries during their VNRs, including to Greece, Lebanon, Malta, Namibia, Niger, and Switzerland. One of our participants from the Stakeholder Group of Persons with Disabilities presented questions to Namibia in International Sign, which was the first time this was done during a VNR at the UN.

Alt="Our DPO partner from Vietnam, Lan Anh, presented various times during the Forum"

Our DPO partner from Vietnam, Lan Anh, presented various times during the Forum

 

 

On 18 July, the 2018 HLPF Ministerial Declaration was adopted with three references to persons with disabilities: on disaggregated data (para 18), commitment to leave no one behind (para 11), and in WASH (para 23).

 

 

 

As the focal point on accessibility for the HLPF, long-term collaboration with the UN produced positive outcomes during the Forum, including:

  • Wheelchair users had access CR 4 on the ground floor and Trusteeship Council Chamber on the second floor for access to the presentations;
  • CART services were provided in person, online, and on webcast for all eight days of the HLPF;
  • Seating was reserved for persons with disabilities in all rooms being used;
  • The UN Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform was accessible;
  • Persons with disabilities and their personal assistants were able to register and obtain passes easily and personal assistants were not considered participants (when there was a maximum number permitted);
  • International Sign was provided for three days at the Ministerial Segment;
  • Documents and presentations were shared prior to events for CART providers and sign language interpreters;
  • The HLPF agenda and other documents were provided in Braille;
  • The UN set up an accessibility walk-through in advance of the HLPF;
  • The UN staff positively collaborated with us in various areas (room, technology, accessibility services, and interpretation).

A very big thanks to the UN for this work and positive collaboration that we hope continues and also continues to improve to ensure no one is left behind.

What’s behind CBM’s ‘End the Cycle’?

 

The End the Cycle team and local film crew collecting stories in Bangladesh using a human-rights based approach.

Have you ever wondered what makes End the Cycle so unique?

Or perhaps you watched one of our short videos and felt there was something different about it?

We frequently receive feedback that End the Cycle videos are insightful, professional and creative, as well as useful in helping people understand how poverty and disability are linked. Our videos help people understand the importance of including everybody.

But the process along the way to create the great result is also worth exploring – in fact, the way we go about End the Cycle’s work is just as important as the finished product. The foundation of all that we do is our principles, based on Article 3 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The principles inform our plans and guide our decision-making. In this post, we’ll unpack some of the principles and how they are applied in real situations.

Local Ownership:

When a new set of resources is to be developed, a local partner is identified to work on story collection and development. In many cases, this local partner is a Disabled People’s Organisation, or DPO. In some cases, this has been an existing CBM partner who has people with disabilities in positions of leadership. We want the local ownership to be in the hands of people with disabilities. We draw up a contract with the local partner, clearly setting out roles and responsibilities.

We think it is important that a person with a disability from the local partner is in charge of the process. This means that when the film crew is on the ground, it’s the local person who leads the group and has the final say.

Own story, own words:

In the words of Abena, an End the Cycle self-advocate from Ghana:

“Someone wearing the shoe knows very well how tight it is, how painful it is inside. But because you are not wearing the shoe, you can’t talk for me. So it is better you give us a chance to talk for ourselves.”

This principle relates to the central and consistent role of people with disabilities in defining and directing their own goals. Telling their own story in their own words keeps the person in control of how they are represented. This means ensuring participants understand End the Cycle’s plans for the resources and that consent to be a part of the project is genuinely informed. Later, when videos are being edited and creative elements added, drafts are sent back to participants to check they are still happy with how they are being portrayed. At any stage in the process, or even after the videos are finished, participants can intervene to make changes or even withdraw from the project.

Once everyone is happy, the videos are shared through our global networks, getting the self-advocate’s message out into the world.

Accessibility: increasing all the time

All reasonable measures are taken to ensure End the Cycle resources are accessible to all people. We aim to leave no one behind!

This is an area we always consider and our resources have become more accessible over time, as we learn and grow. At present, key accessibility measures include:

  • All videos are sub-titled
  • Latest videos also have international sign captioning on-screen, as well as audio-description alternative versions
  • Our website can be switched between English, French or Spanish, and many videos are also available in these languages, as well as some in Arabic
  • All documents are available in Word and PDF versions
  • The website has been designed with accessibility in mind and meets AA standard

Accountability

We are committed to being accountable to the people who have shared their story with us. For this reason, we have clear Terms of Use so that anyone who downloads an End the Cycle video is aware that the story must not be edited or changed in any way, without us checking with the person in the story. The Terms of Use state clearly that stories must not be retold or modified, and that photos cannot be used without the story, giving the context that the person provided.

 

What do you think of these principles? Could they be applied to all story collection in the international development sector, or is there more we could do to raise the bar on a rights-based approach? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

 

Send an email to contact@endthecycle.info or check the full set of stories here.

Time an essential Resource

Interpretation in GA RoomOn20th and 21st of June, the World Federation of the Deafblind (WFDB) held its 5th General Assembly in Benidorm, Spain. Together with Murielle Bertrand, I had the pleasure to attend the GA. While the delegates from 36 countries will stay here to go through a number of thematic workshops over the next five days, it is time for me to go back to Brussels and to share some impressions from the General Assembly with you. Interesting to note that this was my first WFDB meeting and the first-ever meeting where the majority of participants were people with Deafblindness.

 

Without going through the technical details of the GA which focussed very much on statutory matters, all deliberations were really interesting to observe, as they revealed a number of features to me. Firstly, I had never gone through a meeting – and most of you know I am used to attend many of them – where so many different formats and languages were in use! Between Sign Language, Tactile Sign, Braille in addition to all the different spoken World languages, you can imagine the mix of communication in the room. This made the proceedings of the GA very special: Things had to be slowed down, sometimes repeated, but, most importantly, at the end of the day, they got done!

Also wirth sharing with you that WFDB, while in its 17th year of existence, is mostly based on volunteers serving e.g. on its Executive Committee. Similarly, there is no permanent secretariat supporting its activities. All of us who often attend and organise meetings will know how much work it takes to prepare all the documents, reports, voting lists etc. Just then imagine the task of organising a global meeting without such permanent support! Amazing the way that WFDB managed to do all of that, but obviously it is not without its challenges.

Last observation from my side: From the conversations I had and from the atmosfere in the room, I could sense that WFDB members, at least at the global level, seem to have few opportunities to meet between GAs. In comparison to e.g. the World Blind Union that I am more familiar with, people in the room seemed less connected to each other/which is certainly due to the lack of opportunities to gather on a regular basis. But I could feel a great appetite to increase the number of exchanges and encounters, in order to learn from each other and to improve the quality of life of persons who are Deafblind, which is WFDB’s core mandate.

 

Many connections and partnerships do already exist for CBM: WFDB is member of the International Disability Alliance, has strong ties with the World Blind Union and the World Federation of the Deaf. Also strong linkages to Deafblind International and to the International Council for the Education of People with Visual Impairment are in place. With all those relationships in existence, I feel very much encouraged that CBM can further support the rights of people who are Deafblind in the future.