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UN Programme on Disability   Working for full participation and equality

ADHOC COMMITTEE
ON AN INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION

Documents and contributions
NGO Participation
Ad Hoc Committee : Contributions : Intergovernmental Organizations

Second European Conference of Ministers responsible for Integration Policies for People with Disabilities
7-8 May 2003 - Malaga, Spain

"Improving the quality of life of people with disabilities: enhancing a coherent policy for and through full participation"

Political Declaration


1. Background

At the invitation of the Spanish government, the Second European Conference of Ministers responsible for integration policies for people with disabilities was held in Malaga on 7 and 8 May 2003, with Mr Eduardo ZAPLANA, Minister of Employment and Social Affairs of Spain, in the Chair.

The Conference elected Dr Luis PAIS ANTUNES, Secretary of State of Labour, Portugal (7 May) and Dr Vlado DIMOVSKI, Minister of Labour, Family and Social Affairs, Slovenia (8 May) Vice-Chairs.

The general theme of the conference was "IMPROVING THE QUALITY OF LIFE OF PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES: ENHANCING A COHERENT POLICY FOR AND THROUGH FULL PARTICIPATION". Sub-themes were: 1. "Promoting citizenship and full participation by developing effective legal and policy provisions to ensure equality of opportunities for people with disabilities", and 2. "Developing innovative approaches on services, intended to meet the needs of people with disabilities as consumers". Proposals to enhance the integration of women with disabilities and that of people with disabilities in need of a high level of support were discussed as cross-cut issues.

The main objective of the Conference was to develop common principles which should permeate future disability policy development and public service delivery. To that end, Ministers discussed the achievements and shortcomings of recent and current integration policies for people with disabilities and ways of meeting the new challenges. They exchanged ideas, shared experiences, and discussed measures taken, or to be taken, at national, European, and international level to improve the quality of life of people with disabilities.

The outcome of that debate, the "Malaga Ministerial Declaration on People with disabilities: "Progressing towards full participation as citizens" initiates the elaboration of an ambitious, detailed but flexible European Action Plan to implement at national and international level the principles evoked at this Second European Conference.

Moreover, the Conference contributes to the European Year of People with Disabilities 2003, proclaimed by the Council of the European Union on 3 December 2001.

The Conference was attended by Ministers responsible for integration policies for people with disabilities of the Council of Europe member and observer states, or their representatives. [1]  It was also attended by representatives of the Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers, the Parliamentary Assembly, the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe (CLRAE), by the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, by representatives of the Council of Europe Development Bank and of several Council of Europe Steering Committees, a representative of the Commission of the European Communities, and observers from the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and international non-governmental organisations. [2]

2. Political Declaration

Malaga Ministerial Declaration on People with disabilities
"Progressing towards full participation as citizens"

1. We, the Ministers responsible for integration policies for people with disabilities, gathered from 7-8 May 2003 in Malaga on invitation of the Spanish government, at the Second European Conference of Ministers, organised by the Council of Europe,

1. Aware of

2. the Council of Europe's aim, as enshrined in its Statute, is "to achieve greater unity between its members for the purpose of safeguarding and realising the ideals and principles which are their common heritage and facilitating their economic and social progress";

3. the outcome of the first Conference of Ministers responsible for policies for people with disabilities, Paris, 7-8 November 1991, entitled "Independent Living for people with disabilities", which led the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe to adopt Recommendation No. R (92) 6 on a coherent policy for people with disabilities;

4. the fact that protection and promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms, and their full enjoyment are essential for the active participation of people with disabilities in society, and that the principle of equality of opportunities for people with disabilities represents a basic value shared by all Council of Europe member states;

5. the contribution of the European disability movement to the Council of Europe Second Ministerial Conference on disability "From words to deeds", adopted at the European NGO Forum on 8 April 2003 in Madrid;

6. the existence of substantial variations among Council of Europe member states as regards their political, economic and social situation and of the fact that a number of countries, particularly those with economies in transition, may be less well equipped to meet the demands of modern disability policies and need more advice and further assistance;

7. the fact that policies for people with disabilities are faced with certain political, economic, social, demographic, cultural and technological challenges, since, in the last decade, Europe has been undergoing various changes, which affect the quality of life of the population and raise multiple challenges whilst offering new opportunities for the development of coherent policies for people with disabilities;

8. the fact that two aspects are especially relevant in relation to people with disabilities: on the one hand, the increasing number of the European elderly population, which must be taken into account in any future strategy for social cohesion, based on prevention of dependency on support services over the life course and preservation of quality of life in old age; on the other hand, the fact that, as result of scientific advances in the health field and the improvement of living conditions, persons with physical and mental impairments live longer and fuller lives, generating new needs in relation to the provision of services, economic support and protection of their human rights;

9. the fact that 2003 has been proclaimed European Year of People with Disabilities by the European Union, and that its main aim is to raise awareness of the rights of people with disabilities to equal opportunities and promote full and equal enjoyment of these rights;

10. the works of the UN Ad Hoc Committee "to consider proposals for a comprehensive and integral international convention to promote and protect the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities";

11. the work carried out by the Council of Europe Committee on the Rehabilitation and Integration of People with disabilities, enhancing intergovernmental co-operation in the framework of the Partial Agreement in the Social and Public Health Field;

12. the achievements of the Council of Europe and other international organisations, institutions or events as listed in the Appendix to this Declaration;

2. Reaffirm

13. our commitment to securing human rights and fundamental freedoms for everyone under our countries' jurisdiction, as set out in the European Convention on Human Rights, and that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights, and with a potential to contribute constructively to the development and well-being of society, and that all persons are equal before the law and entitled to equal protection of the law;
14. that arrangements for the full and effective implementation of all human rights, as enshrined in European and other international human rights instruments, must be applicable without any discrimination or distinction on any ground, including disability;

15. our will expressed in the First Conference of Ministers responsible for policies for people with disabilities, held in Paris in 1991, to promote a coherent and integrated policy for persons with disabilities, and that Recommendation No. R (92) 6 on "A coherent policy for people with disabilities" has inspired countries to adopt legislative and policy measures leading to progress on the way to full participation, and that it is a basic reference document which should serve as a platform for future action;

16. that enhancing citizenship and full participation of people with disabilities requires empowerment of the individual so that he/she can take control of his/her own life, which may require specific support measures;

3. Consider

17. that our main aim in the next decade is to improve the quality of life of people with disabilities and their families, putting the emphasis on their integration and full participation in society, since a participative and accessible society is of benefit to the whole population;

18. that measures aimed at improving the quality of life of people with disabilities should be based on a sound assessment of their situation, potential and needs, developing innovative approaches in services, taking account of their preferences, entitlements and circumstances;

19. that appropriate strategy to reach this aim should be expressed in a future Action Plan to promote the elimination of all forms of discrimination against people with disabilities of all ages, with special focus on disabled women and people with disabilities in need of a high level of support, so that they will all be able to enjoy their human rights, fundamental freedoms and full citizenship;

20. that it is necessary to adopt an integrated approach towards the elaboration of national and international disability policies and legislation, and to duly reflect the needs of people with disabilities in all relevant fields of policies, particularly in key areas such as access to housing, education, vocational guidance and training, employment, the built environment, public transport, information, health care, and social protection;

21. that it is a basic objective to develop economic, social, educative, employment, environmental and health measures in order to maintain every disabled individual's maximum capacity over the life course and in order to help prevent disability;

22. that education is a basic instrument of social integration and efforts should be made to give the opportunity to children with disabilities to attend a mainstream school, if it is in the interest of the child, to facilitate the transition from school or higher education to employment, and to develop the concept of life-long learning;

23. that equality of access to employment is a key element for social participation; therefore progress should be made towards the integration of people with disabilities in the labour market, preferably in the open market, shifting our focus to assessing abilities and implementing active policies, and that having a diverse workforce by promoting access of people with disabilities in the ordinary labour markets is an added value for society;

24. it vital to understand the social nature of technology and to make the best use of the potential of new technologies, with the aim of increasing autonomy and interactions of people with disabilities in all areas of life;

25. that as a result of scientific advances in the health field and the improvement of living conditions, persons with physical, psychological and intellectual impairments live longer, generating new needs and challenges in relation to the provision of care services, which should be met with innovative approaches;

26. the need to ensure that the benefits of living longer do not result in an increasingly higher number of persons dependent on support services, by fostering, among the population from an early age, healthy habits and life conditions which enable a good state of physical and mental health at a later stage in life;

27. that progress is required to provide for the removal of barriers and the adoption of the universal design principle to ensure that new barriers are not created;

28. that there is a small but growing number of people with disabilities in need of a high level of support and we therefore recognise the need to strengthen structures around those individuals and their families without departing from a model of community-based services;

29. that the situation of women with disabilities in Europe deserves higher visibility and more specific attention in order to guarantee their independence, autonomy, participation and social integration and that action taken should support a gender mainstreaming approach to disability policy development;

4. Undertake

30. to work within anti-discriminatory and human rights frameworks towards mainstreaming equality of opportunity for people with disabilities throughout all policy areas;

31. not to discriminate on the grounds of the origin of the disability or the identity of the disabled person;

32. to enhance the possibilities of people with disabilities to carry on an independent life, within the community, through the progressive adoption of the principles of inclusive technologies and Universal Design inter alia in the building of environments, public facilities, communication systems and housing;

33. to work towards strengthening co-ordination across and between government departments; with a particular commitment to promoting equity in mainstream service provision, health care and the legal system as well as improving accountability between local, regional and national areas of responsibility;

34. to promote the provision of quality services, responding to the needs of individuals with disabilities which are accessed via published eligibility criteria, based on thorough and equitable assessment, shaped by the disabled person's own choices, autonomy, welfare and representation, with proper safeguards, regulation and access to independent adjudication of complaints, and to consolidate and strengthen measures already in place;

35. to champion the inclusion of people with disabilities in all walks of life through education and by making a commitment to people with disabilities as citizens with control over their life;

36. to progress the integration of people with disabilities into the labour market by moving the focus to assessing abilities, in particular vocational abilities, and by making vocational guidance and training as well as employment more accessible;

37. to take full account of the needs of children with disabilities and their families as well as of elderly people with disabilities without detracting from the current commitments to disabled adults of working age, whether or not they are in employment, noting that employment cannot be allowed to stand as the only measure of citizenship, arena for participation and route to human dignity;

38. to continue supporting basic and applied scientific research particularly in the area of new information and communication technologies, in order to improve aids that enable interactive participation in all areas of life;

39. to implement the means necessary for an effective balancing of opportunities between men and women and active participation of persons with disabilities, with special focus on women and girls within the areas of education and training, employment, social policy, participation and decision-making, sexuality, social representation, motherhood, home and family life, and on prevention of violence;

40. to carry out further analyses of the scope of measures and provisions that would effectively improve community living for people with disabilities in need of a high level of support, and to collect the statistical data necessary for the definition and evaluation of disability policies;
41. to have the needs of families of children with disabilities carefully assessed by the responsible authorities with a view to providing measures of support to enable children to grow up with their families, to be included in local children's life, and to receive an education;

42. to have the needs of families as providers of informal care thoroughly assessed, especially those with children with disabilities or caring for persons in need of a high level of support, with a view to providing measures of information, training and assistance, including psychological support, to enable life within the family;

43. to work on the development of programmes and resources to meet the needs of persons with disabilities as they age;

44. to foster among the population from early age health habits and life conditions in order to reach active ageing in the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health;

45. to work towards the development of a positive image of people with disabilities in cooperation with various stakeholders, including the media;

46. to involve people with disabilities in decisions affecting them personally, and organisations of people with disabilities in policy making, paying special attention to people with multiple disabilities or complex disorders and those who are unable to represent themselves;

47. to promote the involvement and collaboration of the social partners and all other public and private stakeholders and actors involved in policy making;

5. Recommend

48. that the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe continues to promote policies aimed at ensuring full citizenship and active participation of people with disabilities, with the full participation of all member states, and to strengthen the role of the Council of Europe as a platform for international co-operation in the field of disability policy-making by inviting the Committee on the Rehabilitation and Integration of People with disabilities and other relevant Council of Europe committees to further mainstream disability policies within their areas of competence;

49. the elaboration, taking into account the considerations raised at this Ministerial Conference, of a Council of Europe Action Plan for people with disabilities: a new European policy framework for the next decade, based on human rights and partnership between different actors, setting up strategic objectives and priority issues in order to achieve full citizenship and active participation of people with disabilities in the life of the community, through workable, affordable and sustainable policies;

50. that the Council of Europe plays an active role in the negotiations in the context of the forthcoming sessions of the United Nations Ad Hoc Committee established "to consider proposals for a comprehensive and integral international convention to promote and protect the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities", by making use of the Council's extensive experience in human rights matters;

6. Invite

51. all Council of Europe member and observer states and representatives from European non-governmental organisations to participate in the activities and work of the Council relating to the enhancing of a coherent policy for and through full participation of people with disabilities;

7. Wish

52. to share the beliefs, values and principles concerning the human rights and fundamental freedoms of people with disabilities, as well as full citizenship and active participation in the life of the community, set out in this Declaration of European Ministers, and identified as common European features, with everybody, including people outside Europe.

* * *

Finally, we thank the Spanish Authorities for the excellent organisation of the Conference and for their generous hospitality.

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APPENDIX

Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms;

European Social Charter (revised), in particular Art. 15 "The right of people with disabilities to independence, social integration and participation in the life of the community";

European Code of Social Security, Protocol to the European Code of Social Security, European Code of Social Security (revised);

"Strategy for Social Cohesion" adopted by the European Committee for Social Cohesion of the Council of Europe on 12 May 2000;

Recommendation No. R (86) 18 of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on the "European Charter on Sport for all: disabled persons";

Recommendation No. R (92) 6 of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on "A coherent policy for people with disabilities";

Resolution AP (95) 3 on a charter on the vocational assessment of people with disabilities

Recommendation No. R (98) 9 of the Committee of Ministers to member states on dependence;

Recommendation Rec (2001) 19 of the Committee of Ministers to member states on the participation of citizens in local public life;

Resolution ResAP(2001)1 of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on the introduction of the principles of universal design into the curricula of all occupations working on the built environment ("The Tomar Resolution");

Resolution ResAP(2001)3 of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe "Towards full citizenship for people with disabilities through inclusive new technologies";

Recommendation No. 1185 (1992) of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on "Rehabilitation policies for the disabled";

Recommendation No. 1592 (2003) of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe "Towards full social inclusion of persons with disabilities";

Recommendation 1598 (2003) of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe "Protection of sign languages in the member states of the Council of Europe";

Recommendation 1601 (2003) of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe "Improving the lot of abandoned children in institutions";
Resolution 216 (1990) of the Standing Conference of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe (today: Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe (CLRAE) (Council of Europe)) on the rehabilitation and integration of the disabled: role of local authorities;

Final Declaration adopted by the Heads of State and Government of the member states of the Council of Europe, meeting in Strasbourg for the Second Summit of the Council of Europe (October 1997), who recognised that "social cohesion is one of the foremost needs of the wider Europe and should be pursued as an essential complement to the promotion of human rights and dignity";

Council of Europe "Malta Declaration on access to social rights", 14-15 November 2002;

the contribution of the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights;

United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989);

United Nations Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966);

United Nations Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966);

United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948);

United Nations Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities (1993);

Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (Disabled Persons) Convention, 1983, (No. 159) and Recommendation, 1983, (No. 168) of the International Labour Organization (ILO);

UNESCO Salamanca Statement and Framework for Action on Special Needs Education (1994);

International Plan of Action on Ageing, adopted by the Second World Assembly on Ageing, Madrid, 8-12 April 2002;

Regional Implementation Strategy for the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing 2002, adopted by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe Ministerial Conference on Ageing, Berlin, 11-13 September 2002;

International Classification of Impairments, Disabilities and Handicaps (ICIDH) (1980) of the World Health Organization (WHO);

International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) (2001) of the World Health Organization (WHO);

Resolution of the Council of the European Union and of the representatives of the governments of the member states meeting within the Council of 20 December 1996 on equality of opportunity for people with disabilities;

Council Directive (2000/78/EC) of 27 November 2000 establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation;

Council Decision (2000/750/EC) of 27 November 2000 establishing a Community action programme to combat discrimination (2001-2006);

Council Decision (2001/903/EC) of 3 December 2001 on a European Year of People with Disabilities 2003;

Madrid Declaration "Non discrimination plus positive action results in social inclusion", adopted at the European Conference of NGOs held in Madrid in March 2002;

Barcelona Declaration: The City and the Disabled (1995);

Declaration of the European Social Partners on the employment of people with disabilities (Cologne, May 1999)

Declaration of the Social Partners for the European Year of People with Disabilities: Promoting equal opportunities and access to employment for people with disabilities, 20 January 2003

Contribution of the European disability movement to the Council of Europe Second European Conference on disability "From words to deeds", adopted at the European NGO Forum on 8 April 2003 in Madrid.

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Notes:

[1] Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Holy See, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, United States of America.

[2] European Action of the Disabled (AEH), European Blind Union (EBU), European Disability Forum (EDF), European Union of the Deaf (EUD), International Association Autism Europe (IAAE), International Federation of Persons with Physical Disability (FIMITIC), Mental Health Europe (MHE).

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United Nations, 2003-04
Department of Economic and Social Affairs
Division for Social Policy and Development