The United Nations has made significant contribution towards promoting and protecting the rights of persons with disabilities. Starting from the International year of Disabled Persons 1981, there have been many milestones that testify the UN’s role in advancing human rights of persons with disabilities. The UN Disability Inclusion Strategy (UNDIS) 2019 is a result of an institutional assessment that was undertaken on the basis of the decision taken by the Executive Committee of the Secretary -General on the inclusion of persons with disabilities. One of the main elements of the strategy is ‘Inclusiveness’ and calls for consultation with organization of persons with disabilities.
The 2020 report of the UN Sec- Gen on the implementation of the UNDIS states that only 20% of UN entities have actually met /exceeded the requirements of inclusion and have reported progress against the indicators identified in the strategy. 80% of the UN entities are yet to consult OPDs as required under the strategy. In this kind of a scenario, it is important for the OPD networks at the national level to actively advocate for the implementation of the UNDIS and also to be consulted by the UN entities on issues that impact them.
Responding to the question on the discussion forum on increasing the level of engagement between OPDs and UNCTs, there have been many valuable suggestions and comments registered in the discussion forum on how OPDs could engage with UNCTs on disability inclusion. Building the knowledge and capacities of the UNCTs to engage with OPDs and sustained engagement with all types of representative organizations of persons with disabilities could be the first step. There are some good practices on OPD engagement by the UNCTs in countries like Lao PDR which could be replicated by UNCTs in other developing countries. One of the suggestions for UNCTs is on hiring persons with disabilities by UN entities and we already have entities such as UNDP, UNICEF and WFP having persons with disabilities within their organizations as disability advisors and specialists.
Engaging persons with disabilities from the very beginning rather than consulting them at a later stage is one of the key recommendations of the discussion forum. Joint advocacy is yet another brilliant suggestion that can cement partnership between UNCT and OPDs in influencing the government to take on the leadership of disability inclusion. Regarding the suggestion on accountability, the UNDIS has an inbuilt mechanism in the form of accountability framework with 15 common system indicators and a UNCT Accountability Score Card on disability inclusion across all pillars of the work of the UN.
Proactive role of UN staff having persons with disabilities in their families in promoting disability inclusion and an effective communication strategy to engage with UNCTs are among the thoughtful recommendations registered in the discussion forum. Last but not the least having periodic events to foster partnership between UNCTs and OPDs is one of the key suggestions made and once again the initiative of the OPDs in Lao PDR collaborating with the government in organizing annual disability policy dialogue in which UNCTs are invited to participate to discuss disability inclusive development could be cited as a good practice and to be emulated by OPDs in developing countries.
Regional Inclusive Governance Specialist
Humanity & Inclusion