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A historic day: UN post-2015 negotiations put disability on the agenda

Sightsavers, August 2015
From the cover of Sightsavers annual report 2009: two boys smile with their arms round each other.

“This is a wake-up call that inclusion of people with disabilities is a principle, not an afterthought”

It’s been a busy weekend with people around the world waiting to see what would come out of the post-2015 negotiations in New York.

Finally the post-2015 agenda has been adopted and will be agreed at a meeting of governments in September. It’s a massive step forwards.

Sightsavers’ Director of Policy and Programme Strategy Dominic Haslam said: “The outcome of the post-2015 intergovernmental negotiations at the UN stands us on the brink of history. It finally delivers a consensus that disability must be mainstreamed into development policy internationally. Crucially, it provides a powerful tool that people with disabilities can use nation by nation to argue for their inclusion.

“We see this as a massive step forwards; a wake up call to the international community and to governments, that inclusion of people with disabilities is a principle, not an afterthought. If development efforts do not have the inclusion of people with disabilities as a specific focus, they will often fail to make even small adjustments or efforts to effectively reach people with disabilities.

“Having disability as such a strong focus in so many national policy areas within this document, such as employment, education and transport, gives clear direction for development planners and thinkers. And disability communities in countries across the world can now more effectively argue for their own inclusion i.e. ‘you signed up to this global call, let us help you to make good on it’.

“Decisionmakers in New York will have felt the pressure to get things passed and move to the next stage in negotiations – this often means that a lot of specifics get cut or watered down. For example, using ‘marginalised groups’ or ‘vulnerable populations’ to replace lists of specific groups with histories of exclusion and marginalisation. This hasn’t happened with the Sustainable Development Goals.

“Why is nuance of language so critical? Because we have clear evidence of people with disabilities being left out of the Millennium Development Goals as a consequence – left behind from their peers who benefited from, for example, primary education and employment progress.

What now?

“Next we need to see the governments of the world agree this ambitious text at the UN’s General Assembly in September and ensure that what gets agreed, gets implemented.

“Sightsavers will be continuing to advocate for improvements to the indicators for the framework, to ensure better data is available to measure this progress, and to adjust efforts that aren’t being effective.”

For the past year Sightsavers’ Put Us In The Picture campaign has been pushing for people with disabilities to be included in efforts to fight global poverty.

Get involved with our campaign: see our #Imagine2030 wall

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