On the 8th of December 2021, the EUD attended a webinar hosted by the Stakeholder Group of Persons with Disabilities. The purpose of the webinar was to provide a ‘how-to’ on the ways in which OPDs can engage in the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) in 2022. The HLPF is the United Nations’ central platform for following and reviewing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals.
Oil Henman, Global Coordinator at Action for Sustainable Development, provided an overview of the process of OPDs’ engagement with the HLPF through voluntary national reviews (VNRs). He explained that through VNRs, countries present and assess their progress toward achieving global goals such as safeguarding and ensuring the inclusion of PWDs. The best way to do this is to collaborate with other members of OPDs and create an independent spotlight report on the progress which can be seen alongside the government’s country report. Asim Dio, the Advocacy and Communications Manager at CBM International, provided his experience of creating a civil society spotlight report. He explained that PWDs in Bangladesh were largely kept out of the government’s mainstream consultations, making it harder for OPDs to contribute to the talks. Despite the late entry to the consultations, the rights of PWDs were mentioned in the country report, a significant win. Still, Mr Dio advised the participants to start the process as early as possible and to view the VNR process as a continuous action rather than a one-time activity.
The event drew on the national experiences of engaging with VNRs, including the challenges and benefits of the process. Civil society needs to engage with the HLPF, as the countries that are parties to the UNCRPD can be held accountable for the progress made in promoting human rights, non-discrimination and accessibility.