An estimated one billion people across the globe have a disability, with 80 % of this number living in developing countries. Persons with disabilities are often the poorest and most vulnerable in their communities and face significantly higher levels of discrimination and social exclusion.
The EU is a party to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which recognises that the full enjoyment of human rights by persons with disabilities and their full participation will result in significant advances in the development of societies and the eradication of poverty.
EU institutions and Member States share the commitment 'to take into account the specific needs of persons with disabilities in their development cooperation. In line with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, they will vigorously promote the rights of persons with disabilities and take stronger measures to ensure their full inclusion in society and their equal participation in the labour market' (European Consensus on Development, 2017).
Globally, the number of persons with disabilities is growing as a result of conflict, poor health, malnutrition, preventable diseases, accidents, natural disasters and an increasingly aging population.
A disability raises the chances of a person falling into poverty, due to reduced access to education and employment and having to cope with extra expenses. At the same time, poverty can increase the risk of disability and prevents rehabilitation, due to poor health, reduced access to social services or unsafe living and working conditions.
Following the rights-based approach, the EU's development cooperation promotes equal opportunities, non-discrimination, and the rights of women, men and children with disabilities, in order to:
- Encourage their full inclusion in society and in decision-making processes;
- Support their access to social, health and education services;
- Stimulate their participation in the labour market;
- Ensure that the rights of persons with disabilities are mainstreamed across all development policies, and in particular social inclusion, social protection, education, health and justice;
- Support the ratification, implementation and monitoring of the UN CRPD and support the participation of the organisations of persons with disabilities in these processes;
- Promote commitment to disability inclusion and rights internationally.
The rights of persons with disabilities represent a key crosscutting issue for the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Moreover, persons living with disabilities are specifically targeted by the following SDGs:
Goal 4: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
By 2030, eliminate gender disparities in education and ensure equal access to all levels of education and vocational training for the vulnerable, including persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples, and children in vulnerable situations.
Build and upgrade education facilities that are child, disability and gender sensitive and provide safe, non-violent, inclusive and effective learning environments for all.
Goal 8: Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
By 2030, achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men, including for young people and persons with disabilities, and equal pay for work of equal value.
Goal 10: Reduce inequality within and among countries
By 2030, empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status.
Goal 11: Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
By 2030, provide access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for all, improving road safety, notably by expanding public transport, with special attention to the needs of those in vulnerable situations, women, children, persons with disabilities and older persons.
By 2030, provide universal access to safe, inclusive and accessible, green and public spaces, particularly for women and children, older persons and persons with disabilities.
Goal 17: Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development
By 2020, enhance capacity-building support to developing countries, including for least developed countries and small island developing States, to increase significantly the availability of high-quality, timely and reliable data disaggregated by income, gender, age, race, ethnicity, migratory status, disability, geographic location and other characteristics relevant in national contexts.
The EU and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)
The CRPD and its Optional Protocol were adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2006 and entered into force in 2008. The EU, as a regional organisation, is party to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) since January 2011, making it part of the EU legal order. The EU is therefore bound by the Convention in its work, including in international cooperation and development.
The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) recognises the contributions made by persons with disabilities to the overall well-being and diversity of our communities and that the full enjoyment of human rights by persons with disabilities and their full participation will result in significant advances in the development of societies and the eradication of poverty.
Bridging the Gap project – European commitment to the inclusion of persons with disabilities in development cooperation.
- European Disability Strategy 2010–2020
- Initial plan to implement the European Disability Strategy 2010–2020
- Progress report on the implementation of the European Disability Strategy 2010-2020 (February 2017
- Bridging the Gap - EU project on increasing the inclusion of persons with disabilities at both the international and country level.
- Disability-Inclusive Development Cooperation - Guidance note for EU staff
United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
- Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)
- UN CRPD committee General Comments (GC) GC1 equal recognition before the law (art 12), GC 2 Accessibility (art 9), GC 3 Women with disabilities (art 6), GC 4 Education (art 24)
- The first report on the implementation of the CRPD by the EU
- Concluding observations by the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities for EU
- OHCHR Thematic studies on rights of persons with disabilities
- UN special rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities
- World Report on Disability, World Bank and World Health Organisation (2011)
- UNICEF State of the World’s Children: Children with Disabilities
- Washington group on disability statistics
- The GLAD network (Global Action on Disability)
- Inclusion made easy, CBM