EU must push for 'all inclusive' development agenda

The post-2015 development agenda must build upon the millennium development goals and fully support the human rights of persons with disabilities, writes Catherine Bearder.

By Catherine Bearder MEP

02 Apr 2014

Soon we will have reached the deadline for the millennium development goals (MDGs). Back in 2000, 189 United Nations member states gave themselves 15 years to achieve those eight basic goals. It is evident that we have witnessed impressive progress during these 15 years, but there are still gaps in these goals, one of which is the situation of persons with disabilities.

Out of the eight goals, 18 targets, and 48 technical indicators present in the MDGs, none of those addressed persons with disabilities, when we know for a fact that nearly 15 per cent of the world population lives with some form of disability, of whom 80 per cent live in developing countries. This oversight makes it impossible to fulfil several of the MDGs, from eradicating extreme poverty, to universal primary education.

Soon, a new framework of development will be put into place by the post-2015 UN development agenda. The European Union, through the European parliament and the commission, recognises this upcoming new development agenda for the opportunity that it is, and has been very active in order to ensure that it addresses the gaps present in the MDGs.

Now that most countries, and the EU itself, have ratified the UN convention on the rights of persons with disabilities, it is unimaginable that we fail to include persons with disabilities in the post-2015 agenda.

In 2013, September was an especially momentous time in the field of development and disability on the road towards the post-2015 agenda. UN member states, including representatives from the EU, met at the UN general assembly and decided that, in September 2015, they would adopt this new set of goals to replace the MDGs.

Two days before that, the general assembly had organised a high-level meeting on the realisation of the MDGs for persons with disabilities, highlighting in no unclear terms the necessity to include persons with disabilities in the upcoming development agenda.

"Out of the eight goals, 18 targets, and 48 technical indicators present in the MDGs, none of those addressed persons with disabilities, when we know for a fact that nearly 15 per cent of the world population lives with some form of disability"

At the core of the problems faced by persons with disabilities in developing countries, problems that we try to address through frameworks such as the MDGs and the post-2015 agenda, we would like to highlight education.

More than anything, education is the key for realising the rights of all in development, especially when we are talking about more vulnerable groups. It is the key to unlocking the vicious circle of poverty and disability.

With that in mind, on 20 March, my colleague Fiona Hall and I hosted an event in the parliament, presenting a report from the global campaign for education, a civil society movement committed to education for all. And this year, this report focused on inclusive education for children with disabilities.

Alongside the global campaign for education, we find also projects supported by the EU, such as the 'End exclusion - let's enable the MDGs' project, which, during the last three years, worked at raising awareness to the situation of persons with disabilities in developing countries, with a focus on youth actions.

There obviously remains a lot to be done, as the full inclusion of persons with disabilities in the development framework is not something that will happen overnight. But, along with my colleagues in the European parliament, I will continue to advocate for the full realisation of the human rights of persons with disabilities, at home and abroad.

And to do that, I believe that we, as MEPs, must keep working for the European Union's voice to be heard in the upcoming debates, in order to achieve a post-2015 development agenda truly inclusive for all, and accessible to everyone.

 

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