PWD rights in post-2015 UN agenda backed

The Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals is seen to benefit persons with disabilities. (Photo by Mario Ignacio IV)

By Jake Soriano, VERA Files

The National Council on Disability Affairs (NCDA) says it fully supports the international call to firmly include the human rights of persons with disabilities (PWDs) in the post-2015 development agenda.

This comes after a team of United Nations (UN) experts last month appealed to UN negotiators and member states to ensure that no one gets left behind in defining the 17 new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“The inclusion of persons with disabilities in the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is a very good strategy to ensure that everybody benefits from development work as a fundamental right,” the NCDA told VERA Files.

Around 1 billion people worldwide or 15 percent of the world’s populationare PWDs, yet their rights have not been properly acknowledged in global development strategies. In the Philippines, there are around1.4 million PWDs, based on the results of the 2010 census.

“Their rights cannot be ignored,” said UN expert Catalina Devandas Aguilar, Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities, and supported by Hilal Elver, Special Rapporteur on the right to food, and Rosa Kornfeld-Matte, Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons.

“The inclusion of persons with disabilities in the SDGs is fundamental if we are to achieve sustainable development that is genuinely rights-based,” added Devandas Aguilar in a statement.

The NCDA said that it fully supports the call to ensure that PWDs are not left out “in any development activities from basic issues of food security, nutrition and accessible health services, to education and employment, and other social protection programs.”

The SDGs are set to replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in September this year.

Touted as “the most successful global anti-poverty push in history,” the MDGs seek to accelerate action by governments, international organizations and civil society groups on hunger, access to education, improved sanitation, maternal health and gender equality, among others.

Signatory countries which include the Philippines must achieve time-bound goals on several target areas.

But Devandas Aguilar said PWDs were “invisible” in the MDGs, and this should change with the SDGs.

“Whereas people with disabilities were invisible within the MDGs, we have seen promising advances in ensuring that the new development framework is sustainable, inclusive and accessible,” she said.

In the penultimate country progress report on the MDGs, National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Sec. Arsenio Balisacan noted the need to “aggressively recalibrate and strategically rethink our programs, projects and activities” in defining the Philippines post-2015 agenda.

The NCDA meanwhile says it hopes the post-2015 SDGs become instrumental in the “realization of an inclusive society for all.”

(This story is part of VERA Files’ Reporting on Persons with Disabilities project supported by The Asia Foundation and Australian Aid.VERA Files is published by veteran Filipino journalists taking a deeper look into current Philippine issues. Vera is Latin for “true.”)