On the 24th – 25th of April EUD participated at the EU-Arab High-level Meeting on Disability Rights in Malta, organised by Maltese government. The meeting brought together the EU’s Disability High-Level Group (DHLG) and the Inter-Sessional Group of Experts on Disability (IGED), as its counterpart for Arab states, hosted by the UN’s Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (UN ESCWA). During the high level meeting participants discussed a number of key issues, both procedural and substantive, how to implement the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD), and set up a standing Forum for continued cooperation.
During the panels and workshops, participants discussed how to ensure the UN CRPD implementation and governance, independent and community living, accessibility, inclusive education, establish sustainable networks for inclusive employment, ensure cross-sectorial coordination, international cooperation and address civil society-specific issues. During the workshop on accessibility Ms Inmaculada Placencia-Porrero, Senior Expert, Disability and Inclusion Unit, DG – Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, European Commission, presented EU’s policies, legislation and harmonised standards that aim at increasing accessibility for people with disabilities. Participants from EU and Arab states had a chance to exchange their views how to learn from each other and exchange with best practices to ensure that rights of people with disabilities are respected and guaranteed in both regions.
During the panel that explored the best practices of implementation and monitoring of Article 33 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Dr Humberto Insolera gave a presentation and highlighted that while implementing Article 33 State Parties to the UN CRPD must involve civil society and in particular persons with disabilities and their respective organisations in the monitoring process, in line with the principle of participation of persons with disabilities that permeates the UN CRPD. State Parties to the UN CRPD in the EU as well as in Arab countries must consult with and actively involve persons with disabilities and their respective organisations while implementing the Convention.
The meeting was closed in the House of Representatives in Valletta where Valletta Declaration on EU–Arab Cooperation in Affirming Disability Rights was signed and the EU–Arab Cooperation Forum in the field of Disability Rights (“Valletta Forum”) was established.