Persons with disabilities around the globe though a very transparent and participatory manner have prepared a position paper entitled, Ensuring that no one is left behind to be submitted to High-Level Political Forum.
The paper intends to reflect the views of persons with disabilities by addressing the annual theme of the High-Level Political Forum: Ensure that no one is left behind. This paper will be an official documentation supporting the work of the High-Level Political Forum; it will be translated into six languages and shared with the UN Member States. The papers strength and significance is based on the number of signatories/endorsements it received before its submission to the UN on 25 April, 2016.
The position paper notes that Persons with disabilities comprise an estimated 15 per cent of the world’s population, or one billion people, of whom 80 per cent live in developing countries and are overrepresented among those living in absolute poverty. Persons with disabilities often encounter discrimination and exclusion on a daily basis. This means, in particular, pervasive exclusion from development programmes and funds, as well as all areas of economic, political, social, civil and cultural life, including employment, education and healthcare.
The paper observes that Persons with disabilities were not referenced in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and as a result were excluded from many important development initiatives and funding streams around the world. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development includes persons with disabilities and has thus opened doors for their participation and recognition as active contributing members of society: who must not face any discrimination or be left out or behind.
It calls for Persons with disabilities to be recognized as equal partners, and be consulted by Governments, the UN system, civil society and other stakeholders. Out of the 169 targets across the 17 Goals, seven targets have an explicit reference to persons with disabilities. Further, all Goals and targets are applicable to persons with disabilities by simple virtue of universality, which applies to all persons, and the overarching principle of “leave no one behind.”
Persons with disabilities strongly believe that only by utilizing the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) as a guiding framework in implementing the SDGs, will it be ensured that exclusion and inequality are not created or perpetuated. This includes institutional, attitudinal, physical and legal barriers, and barriers to information and communication, among other such barriers.
Further, the paper observes that inclusion and the participation of persons with disabilities and their representative organizations in all phases of implementation is critical, not only to ensure that they are not left behind, but also because only they are the true experts when it comes to their complete inclusion in society. Through consultations and by partnering with persons with disabilities, governments will receive technical assistance, capacity building and access to data, which are essential to achieving inclusion and realizing the overarching principle of leaving no one behind.
Bringing persons with disabilities explicitly into mainstream development discourse will not only benefit us, it will enable the world to realize that there is immense untapped potential to transform the world into a better place for all people.