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New Term, New Opportunities: Strengthening Inclusion

This image shows a group of people sitting in a circle in a big conference room, they all represent different organisations
CBM attended an event at the European Parliament (EP) with Members of the EP, organisations of persons with disabilities and civil society in Oct 2014

CBM along with other leading disability organisations and the civil society met with Members of the European Parliament in Oct 2014 to reaffirm their commitment to the issues of disability and development and to launch a toolkit outlining ways to move ahead (from words into action).

Strengthening Inclusion in EU International Cooperation

This image shows Lars Bosselmann - Advocacy Manager at the CBM EU Liaison Office with Ayassou Komivi, President of the Federation of Associations of Persons with Disabilities in Togo. They are both sitting next to each other at the conference table. ©IDDC
Lars Bosselmann (left) - Acting Director of the International Advocacy and Alliances Team at CBM with Ayassou Komivi, President of the Federation of Associations of Persons with Disabilities in Togo
During an event in the European Parliament (EP) on 15 October 2014, the International Disability and Development Consortium (IDDC) launched its Toolkit for strengthening inclusion in EU International Cooperation, aimed at Members of the European Parliament (MEPs). This toolkit was created as a follow-up to the IDDC Elections Statement, signed by more than 50 MEPs. While the Statement asked for a commitment to the issues of disability and development on principle, this toolkit outlines the way MEPs can move this commitment from words to actions, and clearly explains the main topics at stake. CBM, as an active member of IDDC, has been actively involved in this event, as the follow-up of its activity toward the European Parliament.

The event was hosted by Enrique Guerrero MEP (Spain, Socialists and Democrats Party) and brought together several MEPs along with representatives of the Disability Movement, and the civil society in general. He reiterated the capital role that the European Institutions, especially the Parliament, play in the inclusion of persons with disabilities in Development Cooperation.

“The European Union signed in 2011 the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
And I believe it is not sufficient to sign this convention. We also need to show a clear political willingness through our action, our budget and our priorities” stated Mr. Guerrero, Spanish MEP.

International cooperation required

This image shows four people including Catherine Naughton - - Director of International Advocacy & Alliances at CBM and chairperson of IDDC, sitting at the conference table ©IDDC
Catherine Naughton (centre) - Chairperson of the IDDC
After a presentation of IDDC’s work by its chairperson Catherine Naughton, and an introduction to the contents of the Toolkit, the focus shifted on the role that the European Parliament plays in ensuring the inclusive nature of EU development policies, with interesting interventions by Javier Guëmes of the European Disability Forum (EDF), who has often worked with IDDC in this area.

Finally, we had the chance to hear from our guest, the President of the Togolese Federation of Associations of Persons with Disabilities (and the West African Federation of Associations of Persons with Disabilities), Ayassou Komivi, who spoke of the importance of working with the European Parliament in the context of international cooperation. With his perspective and experience from the field, Mr. Komivi highlighted the importance of inclusive development cooperation, and the role that EU institutions have in making this a reality.

“We believe that reinforcing international cooperation is fundamental. We need bilateral cooperation and multilateral cooperation. This cooperation can happen in our view through programs focusing on the exchange of experience, on the provision of technical and financial assistance to states, in order to implement national and international standards and rules, through the capacity building of organisations of persons with disabilities, so that they can carry out their mission” said Mr. Komivi, President of the Togolese Federation of Associations of Persons with Disabilities.

Conclusion - further committment needed on a global level

Many speakers at the event highlighted the importance of including the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) as the legal framework of the European Union. Even though the European Union ratified the Convention in 2011, many steps remain to be taken to fully implement it. Besides this, there is need of indicators by which civil society, and especially organisations of persons with disabilities, can really assess the impact of inclusive projects and actions that the European Union developed.

After this event, we believe that MEPs involved in development cooperation, through the Committee on Development (DEVE), the Subcommittee on Human Rights (DROI), the Committee of Foreign Affairs (AFET), or any other parliamentary Committee, will have a better understanding of what inclusion of persons with disabilities means and looks like. Hopefully, with the support of dedicated MEPs such as those present at our event, this Toolkit will help make the coming term in the EP one marked by the inclusion of all, especially in Development Cooperation.

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