The Division for Social Policy and Development (DSPD) of DESA will coorganize with the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (UNESCWA) in Beirut, Lebanon, an Expert Group Meeting under the theme “Disability and development: operationalizing the post-2015 development agenda for persons with disabilities” from 11-13 May 2015.
As the post-2015 development agenda is being finalized, the global community needs to establish strategies and mechanisms for the implementation of the agenda. In the design of strategies for disability-inclusive implementation, lessons from past experiences in the mainstreaming of disability need to be drawn on and existing mechanisms reviewed to identify persistent gaps and barriers to effective implementation.
This Expert Group Meeting will convene to take stock of recent progress; review lessons learned from field experiences in the implementation of disability-inclusive programmes; and discuss options for and strategies to operationalize the post-2015 agenda. The Meeting is expected to result in a set of practical recommendations for disability-inclusive implementation of the post-2015 framework, including a ‘road map’ for planning, monitoring and evaluation of plans, programmes and policies to achieve development goals for persons with disabilities. The Meeting is also expected to contribute towards the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the outcome document of the General Assembly High Level Meeting on Disability and Development held on 23 September 2013 which stressed the urgent need to translate international commitments and development goals into concrete, practical actions and results.
The Meeting will invite, in their individual capacity, experts from the region and around the world including those with experiences in: disability, social and economic development, and research. The meeting will incorporate a regional perspective through contributions from experts in the Arab region. The recommendations from the meeting will serve as inputs to global efforts in support of disability-inclusive implementation of the post-2015 agenda, including by the United Nations system and national governments.
General Assembly High-level meeting on disability and development (HLMDD)
The UN held a High-Level Meeting on Disability and Development (HLMDD) at the level of Heads of States and Governments in 2013: “The Way Forward: a disability inclusive development agenda towards 2015 and beyond”. At this meeting, Member States adopted an action-oriented outcome document (A/RES/68/3), to ensure the realization of the Millennium Development Goals for persons with disabilities and that persons with disabilities should be fully included in the emerging post-2015 development agenda. The need to translate these international commitments into concrete actions and results for persons with disabilities was also emphasised by Members States in the Meeting.
As a follow-up to the HLMDD, Member States have invited the President of the General Assembly to convene a panel discussion during the 70th session of the General Assembly to review the status of and progress made towards the realisation of international development goals for persons with disabilities (A/RES/69/142 paragraph 8). It was agreed that this discussion should take place following the establishment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) so as
to ensure discussions could support disability mainstreaming in the implementation of the future global development framework.
The emerging post-2015 development framework and disability
The international community has strongly voiced concern over growing inequality and exclusion of persons with disabilities. Countries have repeatedly stressed that it is impossible to genuinely achieve internationally agreed development goals without incorporating the rights, well-being and perspective of persons with disabilities in development efforts at all levels (See A/RES/69/142; A/RES/68/3; A/RES/67/140).
International commitments to strengthen the mainstreaming of disability in development have been reflected in processes towards the formulation of the post-2015 development framework. The Rio +20 outcome document, ‘The Future We Want’, includes various specific references to disability, highlighting, inter alia, that sustainable development requires the meaningful involvement and active participation of persons with disabilities. The need for development policies that support inclusive housing and social services, as well as a safe and healthy living environment for all, particularly persons with disabilities; and ensuring equal access to education for persons with disabilities and enhancing the welfare of persons with disabilities is also noted in this document. (A/RES/66/288, The Future We Want, paragraphs. 43, 135, 229 and 58. Additional references addressed the responsibilities of States to respect, protect and promote human rights and fundamental freedom for all, paragraph 9).
Recommendations for the inclusion of disability as a cross-cutting issue and the importance of including a disability-perspective in the post-2015 agenda are also highlighted in recent reports of the Secretary General (“A life of dignity for all: accelerating progress towards and advancing the United Nations development agenda beyond 2015”, A/68/202 and “The road to dignity by 2030: ending poverty, transforming all lives and protecting the planet”, A/69/700). Recent inclusion of disability in the ongoing work towards the post-2015 development agenda is very promising. A number of draft goals include targets that specifically identify persons with disabilities as targeted beneficiaries of development, and efforts to address inequalities and inclusion are present throughout working drafts. While the extent nature of the post-2015 agenda, targets and indicators cannot be predicted, there are strong indications of international commitment to ensure the shortcomings in the implementation of disability-inclusive programmes under the MDGs will not be repeated.
A gap between policy and practice continues to exist despite strong commitment of the international community to disability-inclusive development. Disability and persons with disabilities still remain invisible in society and development in many instances. This situation reflects a broad range of institutional barriers to systematically integrate and mainstream disability in policies and programs, capacity gaps, and the dearth of adequate data on disability. References to disability in recent drafts of the SDGs are promising, however, significant efforts will be needed to ensure that this framework translates to practical actions and impact on the ground.
In this regard, significant demands on the United Nations and Member States are anticipated in terms of taking forward lessons learned from experiences in the implementation of the MDGs. Effective disability-inclusive development relies on a strong understanding of persistent barriers, and the implementation of targeted interventions that respond to identified barriers and consistently mainstreaming disability across programme areas. A review of existing mechanisms is therefore called for, to reinforce and promote national and local policies and practices, including coordination, knowledge-sharing and capacity building.
III. EXPERT GROUP MEETING
This United Nations Expert Group Meeting on ‘Disability and development: Operationalizing the post-2015 development agenda for persons with disabilities’ will take stock of what has been achieved in advancing disability-inclusive development and will formulate a set of recommendations and ‘roadmap’ for implementation of the post-2015 framework.
Another objective of the Meeting is to facilitate dialogue between regional and national experts and advocates on disability to devise strategies and actions for implementation of a disability-inclusive post-2015 development agenda. The Meeting will also provide an opportunity for experts to jointly analyze entry points to advance disability within existing global frameworks and mechanisms, to guide future operationalization of a disability-inclusive post-2015 development agenda.
ESCWA will hold a special session dedicated to disability-inclusive development, with a focus on region-specific challenges and entry points. By drawing on regional expertise and lessons learned from the Arab region, the session will identify key priorities for inclusive development from an Arab perspective. Through the formulation of recommendations and guidance, the Meeting will contribute to the ongoing work of the United Nations system and national governments in mainstreaming disability in development policies, programs and monitoring and evaluation. In particular, the outcome of the Meeting will serve as a useful reference to the General Assembly in follow-up to the high-level meeting on disability and development and as an input to guide future dialogue on implementation of the post-2015 framework for persons with disabilities.
IV. EXPECTED OUTCOME AND FOLLOW-UP
The objective of the Expert Group Meeting is to:
- Strategize for the implementation of the post-2015 framework from a disability-inclusive perspective; and
- Formulate a list of practical recommendations for disability-inclusive implementation of the post-2015 agenda.
The Expert Group Meeting will undertake the following activities:
- Review good practices and draw lessons learned from experiences in the implementation of disability-inclusive economic and social development in the Arab region and other regions;
- Identify persistent barriers and take stock of existing mechanisms and strategies to promote disability-inclusive development, including existing technical assistance programs and funding mechanisms targeted interventions and mainstreaming efforts; and
- Discuss how to operationalize the post-2015 development agenda and use existing mechanisms and the UN framework to support its implementation at the regional, national and local levels;
Key outputs of the Expert Group Meeting include:
- Formulation of a set of practical recommendations for stakeholders, including the United Nations system and national governments, to support disabilityinclusive operationalization of the post-2015 development agenda; and
- Establishment of new networks to operationalize the post-2015 agenda for persons with disabilities.
V: ORGANIZATIONAL AND ADMINISTRATIVE MATTERS
The Secretariat for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) in collaboration with the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (UNESCWA) will organize the Meeting at the UN House in Beirut, Lebanon on 11-13 May 2015.
The experts will be identified and invited by the Division for Social Policy and Development in close collaboration with UNESCWA and in collaboration with other entities of the United Nations system as well as civil society organisations with expertise in disability and development.
VI. LANGUAGE OF THE MEETING
The working language of the meeting will be English. Documentation for the meeting will be provided in English.