Tomorrow, on 19 April, the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, disability organisations, human rights groups, researchers and others will come together at the United Nations in Geneva to discuss the States’ obligations under Article 19 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The Day of General Discussion (DGD) on the right of persons with disabilities to live independently and be included in the community is the first step in adopting the General Comment, to be published in 2017.
The European Network on Independent Living (ENIL) will be represented in Geneva by Jamie Bolling, the Executive Director, Kapka Panayotova, Co-Chair and Adolf Ratzka, one of the founding members. They will seek to explain what independent living means in practice and what laws and policies are necessary to ensure that disabled people can exercise this right. That independent living is for all disabled people – regardless of impairment, age, gender or geographical location – and that it can work in any cultural context will be among the key messages they will present during DGD.
Drawing on their experiences of barriers faced as disabled people, ENIL representatives will highlight what is not independent living. Coming from Bulgaria, where she leads the Centre for Independent Living, Ms. Panayotova will focus on the new trend of replacing large institutions with small group homes, where the staff continue to be in control. She will call for more focus on the quality of life, rather than quality of care, disabled people’s full participation through access to mainstream services and facilities, and changes in the way services are funded.
The Swedish Independent Living Institute, headed by Mr. Ratzka, has developed a Model Personal Assistance Policy in 2004, but to date personal assistance continues to be misunderstood as home care, under-resourced and seen as suitable only for some disabled people.
ENIL welcomes the DGD on Article 19 as an important step in clarifying the States’ obligations under the Disability Convention. Taking advantage of the process of drafting the General Comment, ENIL will seek to strengthen ties with independent living activists from across the world, to ensure that independent living is a right for all disabled people and to share know how on putting it into practice.
The Day of General Discussion on Article 19 will be webcast live on Tuesday, 19 April starting at 10:00 CET here and will then be available here. To access written contributions for DGD, please click here.
Contact person: Ines Bulic, ENIL Policy Officer and Projects Manager, firstname.lastname@example.org