Why Disability must be systematically embedded in all International Cooperation Efforts

02/12/2011 at 2:09 pm 2 comments

Guest blog by Mary Keogh*

In October 2011, CBM Ireland and the Centre for Disability Law and Policy (CDLP) National University of Ireland Galway in conjunction with Dochas and the Disability Federation of Ireland organised a major conference: The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities “Promoting Disability inclusion in Ireland and World”. The overarching message of the conference was that Irish International Cooperation must be inclusive and accessible to those with disabilities. The conference programme focused on good practice from around the world – including particularly USAID and AusAID.

The rationale for the conference stemmed from the need to reflect on the positive role of development aid programmes in lifting people with disabilities out of poverty and opening up new opportunities in their lives. As one conference participant commented ‘inclusion does not necessarily require more money – just that existing monies are spent smartly to avoid exclusion and to create pathways into the mainstream.”

A number of distinguished speakers addressed the conference such as Ms Judith Heumann, Special Advisor for International Disability Rights at the U.S. Department of State. Ms Heumann delivered the keynote address by reaffirming that there is a need to acknowledge that disability is unquestionably a development issue. Furthermore, she highlighted that if the Millennium Development Goals are to be achieved then people with disabilities need to gain access to changes brought by development money and programmes.

L to R: Mr Bob McMullan, former parliamentary secretary for international development assistance, Ms Judith Heumann, Special Adviser for International Disability Rights to the US State Department, Dr Maurice Manning, President of the Human Rights Commission, Ireland

Mr Bob McMullan who served as an MP in the Australian Labour government and who championed the inclusion of people with disabilities in the Australian governments overseas programmes also addressed the conference. Starting with what he called an imaginary country, he gave the audience some stark statistics. This country has up to 500 million people, the under 5 mortality rate is up to 80%; the school attendance is 10%; the literacy rate is 3% and the unemployment rate is up to 80%. These statistics in any country would be unacceptable from a human rights perspective. Mr McMullan went onto explain that while the country might be imaginary, the statistics are true when it comes to describing disability within a developing country.

Mr McMullan, then outlined to conference participants the 10 low cost steps that can be taken to make Aid or International Cooperation more inclusive. These steps are

Step 1 Establish reference or advisory group

Step 2 Review mainstream programmes for compatibility with CRPD obligations

Step 3 Develop strategy documents focused on rights

Step 4 Fund DPO strengthening (e.g. DRF)

Step 5 Adapt scholarship programme for PWDs

Step 6 Ensure infrastructure programmes reduce barriers

Step 7 Develop disability focus in volunteer programmes

Step 8 Establish partnerships with NGO’s

Step 9 Undertake research

Step 10 Become a global advocate for the post 2015 priorities

Other speakers at the conference included NUIG Centre for Disability Law and Policy Director Professor Gerard Quinn who described the event as pioneering at European level. CBM Ireland National Director David McAllister called for disability support to be systematically embedded in Ireland’s Overseas Budget. Mr McAllister’s final remarks concluded by stating that Ireland has an opportunity to be a leader in this field through ensuring that the Overseas Development is inclusive and accessible to those with disabilities. However this inclusion will not happen merely because of legislation or the development of discussion papers. It must be dynamically imbedded in Irish Development Policy for Overseas Development Aid.

* Mary Keogh is Advocacy Coordinator at cbm Ireland

Read more:

  • Dóchas resources on Disability and Development
  • More resources on Disability and Development
  • Advertisements

    Entry filed under: NGOs. Tags: , , , .

    Day 3 of the Busan Summit – Video blog by Hans Zomer Busan Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation – The Good, the Bad and the New?

    2 Comments Add your own

    • 1. rowanemslieintern  |  05/12/2011 at 12:10 am

      Do you think the disability agenda is best served via the human rights lobby?

    • 2. Dóchas  |  06/12/2011 at 4:38 pm

      Response from Mary Keogh:
      Yes, I think in ideal terms, the human rights lobby is the best lobby for the disability agenda. The adoption of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has made progress in shifting disability from an issue that traditionally was catered for as ‘special needs’ to one of the need for dignity, respect and inclusion. However, the transition is slow, and there is a lot of capacity building from both sides needed in order for effective lobbying. For example, disability organisations need their capacities built on how to work within a human rights framework, particularly the aspects that engage with the United Nations and its reporting systems. On the flip side then Human Rights organisations need their capacity built to realise that disability is not an issue that can just be just delegated to work on the right to health, the right to education, it is much broader than that. There is a real need also for developing a common human rights language to be used when talking about disability. All of this will take time but having disability recognized as a human rights issue is an important starting point.


    Leave a Reply

    Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

    WordPress.com Logo

    You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

    Google photo

    You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

    Twitter picture

    You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

    Facebook photo

    You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

    Connecting to %s

    Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed

    Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 217 other followers


    Dóchas on Twitter

    The World's Best News - images

    One of the most important graphs. Ever. http://ourworldindata.org/data/health/maternal-mortality/
    Today is World Food Day. A day to celebrate that the days of truly enormous famines are over: http://blog.concern.net/global-hunger-index-2015-mapping-the-worlds-hunger
    Meet "Chocolate Mamas", producers of chocolate in #Tanzania, creating Tanzanian jobs. While #cocoa is grown in West Africa and Asia, most #chocolate (the finished product) is made in Europe or the USA. Meet Jaki Kweka, who is trying to change that.
    By creating protected areas and national parks and by limiting the spread of soy bean cultivation, Brazil has managed to drastically reduce the amount of rain forest being cleared. http://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/deforestation-in-the-amazon-has-plummeted-almost-90pt/
    Costa Rica, #Afghanistan, China, #India and Albania are all embracing renewable energy sources. http://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2015/sep/15/five-developing-countries-ditching-fossil-fuels-china-india-costa-rica-afghanistan-albania?CMP=share_btn_tw
    Social change needs empowered citizens, and empowered citizens need occasional encouragement. Great to hear that we're not the only ones who believe in the power of positive news!
    50,000 rice farmers in #IvoryCoast are now working with better seeds, improving food security in the West African country. As a result, harvests have increased. Source: World Bank, photo: Jbdodane / CC BY
    Sub-Saharan Africa’s first light rail system starts operations. As Ethiopians celebrate their New Year, they also prepare to mark the beginning of operations of a tram system in the #Ethiopian capital #AddisAbaba. Read more: http://mgafrica.com/article/2015-09-20-sub-saharan-africas-first-light-rail-system-starts-operationsyou-guessed-it-in-ethiopia
    Going Mobile in #Malawi”. A mobile phone information service established last year to provide timely information to rural poor farmers in a southern African country, has been used nearly half a million times since its launch. Established in Malawi by Gorta-Self Help Africa last year, the ‘321’ voice-activated service provides subscribers to the country’s largest mobile phone network with farm information and advice that they can access at the push of a button. And it’s all free.
    Read more at http://dochas.ie/sites/default/files/The-Worlds-Best-News-2015_0.pdf
    10,000 copies of "The World's Best News" were distributed all over #ireland today! See how The Irish Times described our newspaper, and click the link to read all the articles online! http://www.irishtimes.com/life-and-style/people/inside-out/have-you-read-the-world-s-best-news-1.2355806

    Visitors Map


    Dóchas Photos

    %d bloggers like this: