Ten years of the CRPD

6 July 2016

Ola Abu Alghaibby Ola Abu Alghaib

The United Nations (UN), Leonard Cheshire Disability and others reflected in New York last month on the tenth anniversary of a landmark treaty and the fact that the rights of persons with disabilities worldwide are yet to be fully realised.

In the decade since the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), the international community has taken significant steps to advance its implementations. Progress has been made in many countries and by the UN, and indeed, we have reasons to celebrate.

To date, there are 165 state parties to the convention committing to the rights and advancement of persons with disabilities and we are steadily moving towards the ambition of universal ratification.

However, intensive efforts are still needed to sharpen policies and improve practices to fully implement the CRPD with and for persons with disabilities.

Leaving no-one behind

At the latest Conference of State Parties in June, Leonard Cheshire Disability contributed to discussions on how to ensure no-one is left behind as the world looks to achieve its Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

I attended this ninth session, along with the assistant director of our international department, Alessandra Furtado, and the director of our research centre, Professor Nora Groce. 

In addition to the formal general assembly, 70 side events were held to discuss experiences and lessons learned over the last 10 years of the CRPD and present gaps in knowledge and practice.

We made it clear that within the sustainable development goals, disability should not be understood as being about 'needs', but rather about rights and empowerment.

Greater awareness of this can help with translating global promises into concrete results for those living with disabilities.

Inclusion in practice

In New York, we described our recently adopted strategy, Bridging the Gap (PDF), which endorses a twin-track approach to socio-economic development responses. It enables mainstream programming (integration of persons with disabilities) and empowerment mutually.

At an event hosted by the World Bank, with whom we signed a memorandum of understanding earlier this year, we explained that one 'track' focuses on developing models of inclusion, influencing policy, and undertaking research on poverty and disability.

The other track promotes youth leadership and a stronger disability movement.

Our goal is to double our impact by 2020, enriching lives and promoting independence for more than 100,000 persons with disabilities across Africa and Asia.

We also had the chance to share our practices and lessons learned on inclusive employment at a forum entitled, Unusual employment of persons with disabilities: from words to work. This was attended by the permanent missions to the UN of Australia, Costa Rica, Finland and Spain, the International Disability Alliance, the UN Global Compact and the International Labor Organization (ILO).

Knowledge, capacity and resources

Leonard Cheshire Disability is convinced that successful implementation of the CRPD is not in the hands of government alone. All of us working together to increase knowledge, capacity and resources is the only way to realise transformative change in the lives of the one billion persons with disabilities worldwide.

There is a big role for exiting 'mainstreaming' disability frameworks and by building and refining practice based on evidence and lessons learned — with the meaningful participation of people with disabilities — we can ensure we leave no one behind by 2030.

Ola Abu Alghaib is global head of influencing, impact and learning at Leonard Cheshire Disability.

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