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A life of dignity for all: accelerating progress towards the Millennium Development Goals and advancing the United Nations development agenda beyond 2015


I.            Introduction

 Disabled People’s International (DPI) is the largest network of Disabled People’s Organizations (DPOs) in the world with members in over 130 countries. It has been actively participating and contributing to the discussions on MDGs and the Post 2015 development agenda. DPI has gone through the Secretary General’s Report and reviewed it vis-à-vis disability.    

The Secretary General’s Report includes assessment/taking stock of MDGs; highlights the best practices and the measures being taken to accelerate the work to achieve the targets by 2015. It also provides a vision for Post 2015 development agenda. According to the Secretary General, there has been “remarkable progress” with respect to achieving the targets of MDGs. “Many countries — including some of the poorest — have aligned their policies and resources with the Goals to make unparalleled gains. Several critical targets have already been met or will be met by the end of 2015, both at the aggregate level and in individual countries.”  

However, he has also stated that, “progress has been insufficient and highly uneven. Rural areas and marginalized groups continue to lag behind on virtually all goals and targets. Countries in or emerging from conflict, disaster or instability face significant challenges.” The Report does not include specific goals. However, it provides pointers for setting the goals for the Post 2015 development agenda.
DPI’s Response highlights the areas of SG’s report that has covered disability. It also provides an analysis of what more could have been included. In concludes by providing recommendations for effective inclusion of disability in accelerating programmes of MDGs and the Post 2015 development agenda.


II.          Excerpts from the Report


We have listed below the text/statements from the Report where disability has been explicitly mentioned or included as part of marginalized groups or those which seemed relevant. (The full text of the Report can be accessed at http://post2015.org/2013/08/16/report-of-the-secretary-general-a-life-of-dignity-for-all/). The serial numbers mentioned below correspond to the paragraph number of the Report.   

6. Far too many people face serious deprivation in health and education, with progress hampered by significant inequality related to income, gender, ethnicity, disability, age and location.
 

21.    However, progress has been insufficient and highly uneven. Rural areas and marginalized groups continue to lag behind on virtually all goals and targets.
 

25. Much stronger efforts are needed to improve the quality of education and provide lifelong learning opportunities, especially for girls and women, those belonging to ethnic minorities, persons with disabilities and children living in conflict-affected areas, rural areas or urban slums.
 

55. Together, we need to focus on those Goals that are most off-track and on countries that face particular development challenges, including the least developed countries, landlocked developing countries, small island developing States and countries affected by or recovering from conflicts or disasters. In so doing, we must pay particular attention to the needs and rights of the most vulnerable and excluded, such as women, children, the elderly, indigenous people, refugees and displaced families, as well as people with disabilities and those living in poor rural areas and urban slums.
 

87. Improve health. Address universal health-care coverage, access and affordability; end preventable maternal and child deaths; realize women’s reproductive health and rights; increase immunization coverage; eradicate malaria and realize the vision of a future free of AIDS and tuberculosis; reduce the burden of non-communicable diseases, including mental illness, and road accidents; and promote healthy behaviours, including those related to water, sanitation and hygiene.
 

90. Promote inclusive and sustainable growth and decent employment. This can be achieved by economic diversification, financial inclusion, efficient infrastructure, productivity gains, trade, sustainable energy, relevant education and skills training. Labour market policies should focus in particular on young people, women and people with disabilities.
 

91.    End hunger and malnutrition. Addressing hunger, malnutrition, stunting and food insecurity in a world experiencing rapid population growth will require a combination of stable and adequate incomes for all, improvements in agricultural productivity and sustainability, child and maternal care and strengthened social protection for vulnerable populations.
 

92. Countries with an ageing population need policy responses to support the elderly so as to remove barriers to their full participation in society while protecting their rights and dignity.
 

95. Legal empowerment, access to justice and an independent judiciary and universal legal identification can also be critical for gaining access to public services. 

106. The availability of information has improved during the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals. Still, there is an urgent need to further improve data collection, dissemination and analysis. Better baseline data and statistics are needed, especially because the post-2015 development agenda will involve measuring a broader range of indicators, requiring new and disaggregated data to capture gaps within and between population groups. Assessing the quality of outcomes should also feature more prominently in a results-based framework. As suggested by my High-level Panel, targets will be considered to have been achieved only if they are met for all relevant income and social groups. 

111. Goals and targets should take into account cross-cutting issues such as gender, disability, age and other factors leading to inequality, human rights, demographics, migration and partnerships. The new goals should embrace the emphasis on human well-being and include the use of metrics that go beyond standard income measures, such as surveys of subjective well-being and happiness, as introduced by many countries and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. 

114. The General Assembly could launch the final phase of the intergovernmental consultations on a post-2015 development agenda at its sixty-ninth session. Those consultations could draw on the outcomes of several intergovernmental events, including the high-level meeting on disability and development… 

116. I call upon Member States to adopt a universal post-2015 development agenda, with sustainable development at its core. Poverty eradication, inclusive growth targeting inequality... 

120. In so doing we must continue to listen to and involve the peoples of the world. We have heard their calls for peace and justice, eradicating poverty, realizing rights, eliminating inequality, enhancing accountability and preserving our planet. The world’s nations must unite behind a common programme to act on those aspirations. No one must be left behind. We must continue to build a future of justice and hope, a life of dignity for all.


III.        Analysis of the Report vis-à-vis Disability


Given below are some of our observations with respect to disability, after going through the Report: 

1.            There is a general admission that marginalized groups have been left behind on virtually all goals and targets of MDGs. 

2.            Disability has been mentioned at some places in this Report, particularly with respect to Post 2015 Agenda, where it has been clubbed with various other marginalized groups. It states, “Goals and targets should take into account cross-cutting issues such as gender, disability, age and other factors leading to inequality, human rights, demographics, migration and partnerships.” 

3.            It is mentioned in the Report that outcomes that would emerge from the High-level meeting on disability and development to be held in September, 2013 would be considered in the formulation of the Post 2015 agenda. 

4.            It mentions “universal health-care coverage, access and affordability” of health services. The High-Level Panel (HLP) Report had not particularly emphasized on universal coverage or access or affordability of health services in their list of indicative goals and targets. 

5.            Tackling inequality was not mentioned as a specific goal in the HLP Report. However, it has been mentioned specifically in this Report. Under the Section “Vision and transformative actions of the agenda”, one of the points is “Tackle exclusion and inequality”. It states, “In order to leave no one behind and bring everyone forward, actions are needed to promote equality of opportunity. This implies inclusive economies in which men and women have access to decent employment, legal identification, financial services, infrastructure and social protection, as well as societies where all people can contribute and participate in national and local governance.” However, it does not explicitly mention disability. 

6.            There is a mention about mental illness. It states, “reduce the burden of non-communicable diseases, including mental illness”. It is seeing mental illness only as a disease and the focus seems to be more towards prevention rather than rehabilitation or building a supportive society. 

7.            There are a few other general points in the Report which seem crucial and relevant to disability. They are:  Emphasis on baseline data and statistics and disaggregated data to capture gaps within and between population groups.  There is a mention about “legal empowerment, access to justice and an independent judiciary and universal legal identification”. These would be critical for gaining access to public services.  

8.            Many issues (strategies/challenges) and recommendations given in the previous Reports of the Secretary General[1] on inclusion of disability in MDGs and Post 2015 development agenda have not been incorporated in this Report, for example, the very important issues of accessibility, capacity building, having focal points as monitoring mechanisms for disability. 

IV.         Recommendations

 1.              There seems to be a lot of focus on accelerating the progress for achieving MDGs. The UN could launch a focused campaign to include disability in the acceleration campaigns (more than 800 days would be left as on 23rd September 2013[2] for the completion of the MDG period). This could help in getting the various nations to develop action plans, collect baseline data, report on progress and to identify challenges/bottlenecks with respect to disability as a cross cutting aspect of MDGs. 

2.             It is already mentioned that the outcomes of the High-level meeting on disability and development will be taken into account. Hence, effective participation from the disability sector is crucial. Specific recommendations regarding what people with disabilities want from the Post 2015 development agenda should be formulated and incorporated in the ‘outcome document’ of the meeting. 

3.             The UN could initiate discussions and work on gathering disaggregated data (including qualitative data) on various cross cutting issues, as part of acceleration campaigns of MDGs and as preparatory work for developing the Post 2015 development agenda. 

4.         Last but not the least, persons with disabilities should be actively involved in the process of formulating the Post 2015 development agenda, as part of panels/committees/working groups.



[1]Report No. A/67/211- Realization of the Millennium Development Goals and internationally agreed development goals for persons with disabilities: a disability-inclusive development agenda towards 2015 and beyond, dated 30th July 2012, and No. A/68/95 - The way forward: a disability-inclusive development agenda towards 2015 and beyond, dated 14th June, 2013   
[2]High-level meeting on disability and development 

10.09.2013

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