From 12th to 16th October, CBM EU Liaison Office had the opportunity to exchange expertise with Nelbert Perez, Northern Pacific Program Officer from the Pacific Disability Forum. During his stay in Brussels, CBM participated in an exchange with Parliamentarians from the European Union and from African, Caribbean and Pacific countries.
The European Union and ACP countries
The European Union (EU) has a long history of collaboration with African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries since the ratification of the Cotonou Partnership Agreement (CPA) in 2000, which defines the relations between the ACP countries and the EU around three main pillars: Development cooperation, economic and trade cooperation and political dimension.
The political dialogue is notably translated within the CPA by the organization of, the Joint Parliamentary Assembly (JPA) which establishes a periodical dialogue amongst parliamentarians from the EU and from ACP countries. In 2011, members of the JPA adopted in Togo a resolution on the inclusion of persons with disabilities and as a follow-up of this commitment, CBM has been invited on the 12th October to a dialogue with parliamentarians at the European Parliament (EP). Lars Bosselmann, director of International Advocacy and Alliances, presented the advocacy work that CBM is doing while also highlighting the need to implement such resolution. Lars mentioned the need to look to the future and to create political will to make sure that the rights of persons with disabilities are also taken into consideration in the future agreement between the EU and the ACP countries. Nelbert Perez presented the situation of persons with disabilities in his region. Stigmas amongst communities, lack of access to Education, employment and accessibility remain critical issues where the EU should increase its support to the Pacific Region in order to guarantee minimum standards of inclusion for persons with disabilities.
CBM received several responses from ACP parliamentarians, especially from African countries where some progress towards Disability Inclusive Development has been made. One of the most remarkable success stories come from Chad, where Béral Mbaikoubou has become the first national parliamentarian with disability. CBM collaborated with Mr. Mbaikoubou in 2012 during his first mandate in the Chadian Parliament.
The International Day on Disaster Risk Reduction
On 13th October, CBM organised an informal exchange between Mr. Perez, the International Disability and Development Consortium (IDDC) and the European Disability Forum (EDF). Catherine Naughton, director of EDF, presented the work of EDF which helped to identify common objectives with the Pacific Disability Forum (PDF) as both are regional DPOs.
This exchange raised common challenges such us the full implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) as well as the need to work in collaboration for achieving great impact. One of the issues that has been highlighted by Nelbert is the issue of distance. A lot of islands within the Pacific Region are far from each other which makes the response to natural disaster even more complex. No evacuation center has been created yet and an efficient early warning system is still lacking in some of the islands such as in the Federal state of Micronesia, which leaves the population and those the most at risk without any protection. However, in order to fill those gaps, it has been emphasized during the discussion that capacity building and partnership amongst several organisations remain important. In this regard, PDF is regularly partnering with SPC an NGO specialised on climate change. A collaboration with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) has also been developed in order to facilitate the response to the natural disaster. Finally, in order to prevent, the casualties during natural disasters PDF is working very much on a clear mapping to identify persons with disabilities within the region.
Regional collaboration for the implementation of the SDGs
The 2030 Agenda is one of the current international frameworks for sustainable development, together with the Sendai framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the New Urban Agenda or the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. A full and proper implementation of these frameworks can only be achieved if persons with disabilities are included in its implementation and monitoring. Therefore, there is a need of cooperation among civil society, including representative organisations of persons with disabilities.
CBM will promote collaboration and will keep investing its advocacy efforts on connecting DPOs with international stakeholders such as the European Union in order to ensure that no one is left behind.