Ottawa to host meeting of the "Global Action on Disability" - CCD to attend as an observer

From April 29 – May 1, 2019 Canada’s Minister for International Development, Maryam Monsef, will host an International Conference focusing on the situation of people with disabilities in developing countries.  

Minister Monsef will welcome members of Global Action on Disability (GLAD) to Ottawa.  GLAD is an international organization that brings together bilateral funding agencies from donor governments around the world.  Global Affairs Canada, and donor partners from the United States, several European countries, Japan, Australia, New Zealand are expected to attend the meetings.  GLAD brings together national development agencies that have an interest in supporting people with disabilities as part of the work that they do in developing countries.  The role of GLAD is to help coordinate and understand how to do that work better. 

GLAD is co-chaired by the International Disability Alliance (IDA), which is an umbrella organization of international disability organizations that focuses on implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). While the IDA is a permanent co-chair, the other co-chair seat is occupied by a donor agency, on a revolving basis.  The current development agency co-chair is the United Kingdom. It was previously Australia, as the founding co-chair.

GLAD meets two times a year - one time at the Conference of States Parties in New York in June and usually one time before that in another country. Canada is hosting a GLAD meeting in 2019 at the end of April in Ottawa. 

This three-day meeting will bring together Disabled Peoples Organizations (DPOs) and donors from around the world to focus on issues related to disability and development.  CCD, which has a long standing interest in this work has been invited to attend as an observer; Steven Estey, CCD Government and Community Relations Officer, will represent CCD.

On development assistance, CCD has a unique perspective, gained through three significant activities: membership in international organizations, conducting international development projects, and an active engagement in the development of human rights law, both domestically and internationally.

Since its founding in 1981, CCD has been a member of Disabled Peoples’ International (DPI).  From 1984 - 2000, CCD undertook disability awareness education with Canadian development agencies, encouraging the inclusion of people with disabilities in development projects, and, in collaboration with DPI member organizations, CCD sponsored capacity building initiatives with DPOs, primarily in the Caribbean but also in Latin America and Africa.  This work raised CCD’s awareness about the barriers to people with disabilities and their organizations in Canada’s international aid programming. In the 1990s, CCD, through its International Committee, began to call upon Canada to develop a specific policy on disability and development, which would serve to ensure that Canada’s development assistance is inclusive and accessible to persons with disabilities and their organizations in developing countries. 

CCD was deeply involved in the process that led to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and Canada’s Ratification.  Article 32 of the CRPD specifically addresses international development assistance and cooperation, calling upon governments to work in partnership with the organizations of people with disabilities along with other sectors. It suggests the following measures:

“a) Ensuring that international cooperation, including international development programmes, is inclusive of and accessible to persons with disabilities;
b) Facilitating and supporting capacity-building, including through the exchange and sharing of information, experiences, training programmes and best practices;
c) Facilitating cooperation in research and access to scientific and technical knowledge;
d) Providing, as appropriate, technical and economic assistance, including by facilitating access to and sharing of accessible and assistive technologies, and through the transfer of technologies.”

Clearly GLAD is a key global player in the implementation of Article 32.  Through its participation in the GLAD meeting, CCD will be encouraging Canada to begin to fully implement Article 32, in its overseas development assistance, and to do so in collaboration with people with disabilities and our organizations.

CCD believes that Canada’s hosting the GLAD meeting is a very positive step.  We see it as a sign that there is a growing interest to do more in the area of disability and development.  It’s an opportunity that CCD’s International Committee has been anticipating for many years!