Disability and the Post 2015 Framework: A Politics of Hope

As many readers of this blog will know, the UN Secretary General's High Level Panel (HLP) of Eminent Persons on what comes after the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) expire in 2015 is due to report at the end of May.

As many readers of this blog will know, the UN Secretary General's High Level Panel (HLP) of Eminent Persons on what comes after the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) expire in 2015 is due to report at the end of May.

The report will be one of the most significant inputs into the post 2015 discussions so far and will doubtless generate reams of commentary and analysis. Key questions that civil society might ask while reading the report will include:

  • Is the report strong enough on sustainability as well as development?
  • Does it focus enough on human development or is the primary focus economic development?
  • Will the report be based on learning from the existing MDGs strengths and weaknesses and also seek to address new challenges and equity. Or are the report's inputs primarily a continuation of the MDGs?
  • Does the report clearly reflect inputs from the worldwide consultative process followed up to this point?

And so on.

The report is currently being drafted, shared within the HLP, and then re-drafted. Part-leaks are being seized on with gusto and then discarded as they become obsolete within days or even hours.

In the calm before the anticipated storm to come, now is a good time to re-establish some clear positions, allowing for these to shape responses to the HLP's report, even if too late to influence its content.

In that space, Ivan Lewis MP, the shadow Secretary of State for International Development, has been developing a set of goals. His vision Equality 2030 a "social contract without borders" was officially launched on Tuesday at an event co-hosted by Beyond 2015 UK.

Lewis set out ten goals that he said he hoped would make Equality 2030 possible and which represented the basic entitlements that any citizen, no matter where they lived should be able to expect: access to universal health and social care; stronger health systems; quality primary and secondary education that allows all children to reach their full potential; basic food security and the eradication of hunger and malnutrition; women's empowerment and equality; a focus on good governance and the importance of fostering active and responsible citizenship.

What was particularly good to hear in this speech however, and stands Lewis' speech out from other policy statements made in public so far, is a clear mention of the importance of ensuring people with disabilities are included in the post 2015 framework. For instance, the importance of decent jobs with a focus on reducing the number of young people with disabilities not in education, employment or training and he insisted on the necessity to provide quality primary and secondary education to all children, include children with disabilities. He also spoke about the importance of measuring progress of these goals; collecting data and setting indicators for the inclusion of people with disabilities in progress against the post 2015 goals.

The inclusion of disabled men, women and children in these goals and the idea that these are basic entitlements for all, is welcome and to be celebrated. Lewis said that it was scandalous that the MDGs had been silent on disability. He's right.

Indeed, it is widely recognised that people with disabilities have disproportionally missed out on progress against the current goals, some argue to the point that the MDGs has actually increased, rather than decreased, the marginalisation of people with disabilities as they are left behind by other population groups.

Hopefully the promises made by the panel at various points over the last 6 months will come to fruition in the High Level Panels' report when it arrives at the end of the month, and reflect similar levels of commitment to people with disabilities as Lewis' speech does.

If so, it could really set the stage for the international community, at the UN General Assembly in September and over the next 18 months, to light the way to a truly inclusive and sustainable development framework. Opening the door to a politics of hope.

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