NEWS: US Secretary of State Clinton on International Disability Rights

Posted on 25 February 2009. Filed under: Human Rights, News, Women | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

This was from a State Department town hall meeting on February 4, see:

QUESTION: Good afternoon, Madame Secretary. It’s an honor to be working under your leadership, and I look forward to the challenges that you present. My name is Stephanie Ortoleva. I work in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor.

I basically wanted to ask you a question about what do you think can be the role that we can play, which you’ve illuminated – you’ve given us a little bit of illumination on that – but also what role can our colleagues who work in women’s rights organizations and disability rights organizations, what role can those colleagues play in supporting you in your efforts to advance the rights of women and the rights of people with disabilities as part of an integral part of United States foreign policy?

SECRETARY CLINTON: That’s a wonderful question. I thank you for it. You know, I think it was 1997, I came to this auditorium, the Dean Acheson Auditorium, with Madeleine Albright, who was Secretary of State, and addressed a large crowd like this about the commitment that the Clinton Administration had to including women as an integral part of foreign policy, not as an afterthought, not as an adjunct, but in recognition of the fact that we know from a myriad of studies and research that the role of women is directly related to democracy and human rights. And I feel similarly about people with disabilities.
It’s important to recognize that expanding the circle of opportunity and increasing the democratic potential of our own society, as well as those across the world, is a continuing process of inclusion. And I look forward to working on behalf of the rights of women and people with disabilities, and others as well, as we pursue our foreign policy. Because I think it sends a clear message about who we are as a people, the evolution that we have undergone.

I remember as First Lady traveling to many countries that had no recognition of the rights of people with disabilities. They were literally warehoused, often in the most horrific conditions. There were no laws. There were no requirements for education or access. And it struck me then and – we’ve made some progress, but insufficient. It certainly is part of my feeling now that we have to always be hoping and working toward greater inclusion as a key part of what our values are and what we believe democracy represents. So I’m going to look to working with those of you in the Department and at USAID and with our allies and friends outside who have carried on this work over the years. And you can count on my commitment to you on that.

I first received this quote via Joan Durocher.

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Disabled People Must Not Pay for Crisis, Says European Disability Forum

Posted on 27 November 2008. Filed under: Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Employment, Human Rights, News, Poverty | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |


EDF Statement on the Economic Crisis: Disabled People Must Not Pay for the Crisis

Paris, 16 Novembre 2008 – The European Disability Forum, which is the voice of more than 50 million European people with disabilities, calls on the European Council, Commission and Parliament and other European institutions and all the governments of Europe to ensure disabled people and their families do not pay for the worldwide economic crisis by the reduction in their income, benefits, employment opportunities or in cuts in support to our representative organisations.

The crisis was caused by the irresponsible lending and unacceptable negligence by those in charge of the financial institutions and regulatory bodies of the world. Governments’ response to the ‘credit crunch’ has been to create financial resources to bail out the banks. Now as this lack of confidence feeds its way into the general economic system it is vital that poor, elderly and disabled people and their families of Europe do not pay for this crisis. We already in a precarious position prior to the crisis, therefore call for a reflationary approach to spend more on investment in accessible infra structure, on benefits and the provision of tax relief, so that these groups can buy goods and services so improving the economic situation.

The world through the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities has only just recognised the urgent need to extend the international human rights law framework to disabled people. Society cannot afford to dilute its commitment to human rights including the right to employment and family life. Traditionally disabled people have been the ‘reserve army of labour’, ’the last to be hired the first to be fired’, seen as expendable at times of economic crisis. Disabled People, their families, the unemployed and the poor cannot become the scapegoat for a crisis not of their making. Already the worsening economic position has led to attempts to cut benefits in many countries such as Ireland, Hungary, Sweden and Italy.

The lesson of this crisis – the value of investing in people – is far more important than speculative investment and it benefits the whole of society and strengthens its resistance to such crisis driven changes. If the gap between the disadvantaged and the wealthy widens, it will cost society more in the long run. The EDF will ensure the equality and rights of disabled people come to the top of the political agenda in the forthcoming European Elections.

Cutbacks and mass unemployment will develop a fertile ground for violence, hate crime, undermine solidarity and produce dangerous attitudes for democracy. We call on all those with political and economic decision making responsibility to do all they can to ensure that disabled and poor people are treated with equality and their economic well being is assured by the measures they take at this time. Now is the time for strong action so that in 2010-European Anti Poverty Year- disabled people and other disadvantaged groups do not again come to the top of the agenda.

The European Disability Forum (EDF) is the European umbrella organisation representing the interests of 50 million disabled citizens in Europe. EDF membership includes national umbrella organisations of disabled people from all EU/EEA countries, as well as European NGOs representing the different types of disabilities, organisations and individuals committed to disability issues. The mission of the European Disability Forum is to ensure disabled people full access to fundamental and human rights through their active involvement in policy development and implementation in Europe.

Forum européen des personnes handicapées
>>> Communiqué de presse

Déclaration du Forum Européen des personnes handicapées à propos de la crise financière: Les personnes handicapées ne doivent pas payer la crise

Paris, le 16 novembre 2008 – Représentant 50 millions d’européens en situation de handicap, le Forum Européen des Personnes Handicapées appelle le Conseil Europeén la Commission Européenne et le Parlement Européen, les Institutions Européennes et tous les Gouvernements des pays européens à s’assurer que les personnes handicapées et leurs familles n’aient pas à payer les conséquences de la crise financière internationale par une réduction de leurs revenus, de leurs accès à l’emploi, de leurs moyens de compensation ou par une réduction des moyens attribués à leurs organisations représentatives.

La crise financière a été causée par des accords de prêts irresponsables et des négligences inacceptables de la part des responsables d’Institutions financières et de régulation financières. La réponse des Gouvernements à cette déroute bancaire a été la création de ressources financières pour sauver les banques. Maintenant que la perte de confiance gagne l’économie réelle, il est essentiel que les européens exposés à la pauvreté, à la maladie et aux situations handicap n’aient pas à faire les frais de cette crise. Déjà affectée par la précarité avant cette crise, nous pensons au contraire qu’une politique de relance devrait augmenter les allocations, investir dans l’accessibilité et accorder des avantages fiscaux pour que ces groupes puissent consommer des biens et des services et ainsi soutenir le développement économique.

Avec l’adoption par les Nations Unies de la Convention Internationale pour le droit des personnes handicapées le monde vient juste de reconnaître le besoin urgent d’un élargissement du cadre des Droits de l’Homme aux personnes handicapées. La société ne peut pas se permettre maintenant de d’affaiblir son engagement pour les Droits de la Personne et notamment le droit à l’emploi et le droit à fonder une famille.

Il est depuis longtemps d’usage que la réponse aux besoins des personnes handicapées représente une « réserve d’emploi », ce sont les dernières à être engagées et les premières à être licenciées, perçues comme quantité négligeable. La dégradation de la situation économique a déjà conduit plusieurs pays à vouloir supprimer des avantages acquis, comme en Irlande, en Hongrie, en Suède et en Italie.

La leçon de cette crise est que l’investissement sur le développement des personnes est beaucoup plus essentiel que les investissements spéculatifs, qu’il bénéficie à l’ensemble de la collectivité et qu’il renforce les capacités de réponse collective à ce type de crise. Si le fossé entre les riches et les pauvres s’élargit encore la crise coûtera plus cher et durera plus longtemps. Le Forum Européen des Personnes Handicapées veillera à ce que l’égalité et les droits des personnes handicapes devienne une priorité de l’agenda politique européen lors des prochaines élection européennes.

Les restrictions et l’augmentation du chômage vont créer un terrain propice au développement de la violence, d’attitudes dangereuses pour la démocratie et constituent une menace pour la solidarité. Nous appelons les responsables politiques et économiques à faire face à leur responsabilité et à prendre immédiatement les décisions nécessaires pour que les personnes handicapées, leurs familles et les personnes pauvres soient traitées avec équité et leur avenir économique assuré.

Le Forum européen des personnes handicapées (FEPH) est la plateforme européenne qui représente les intérêts de 50 millions de citoyens handicapés au sein de l’Union européenne. Les organisations membres du FEPH incluent les plateformes nationales des personnes handicapées de tous les Etats membres de l’UE et de l’Espace économique européen, ainsi que les ONG européennes représentant les différents types de handicap. La mission du FEPH est de garantir le respect total des droits fondamentaux et humains des personnes handicapées par le biais d’une implication active dans le développement et application des politiques européennes.

This press release was circulated on the AsiaPacificDisability listserver.

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FUNDING: United Nations Democracy Fund

Posted on 30 October 2008. Filed under: Announcements, Call for Nominations or Applications, Democratic Participation, Funding, Opportunities | Tags: , , , , , , |


UNDEF Third Round of Funding

The Third Round of Funding for the United Nations Democracy Fund – UNDEF – will be conducted from 10 November to 31 December 2008.

Applications for UNDEF funding can be made online through a link from the UNDEF website that will be open from 10 November 2008. Applications must be written in English or French, the two working languages of the United Nations. Applications can only be made through the UNDEF online facility. Applications sent by E-mail, fax or post will NOT be accepted.

Applicants should be aware that UNDEF funding rounds are highly competitive. In the Second Round there were more than 1800 applications while only 83 projects were funded. Accordingly, the quality of the application will be an important attribute. Applicants are therefore advised to read very carefully the Project Proposal Guidelines (PDF format, 87 Kb) on the UNDEF website. Applications can be saved in the system and should be submitted only when applicants are confident that all the relevant information has been provided.

Finally, UNDEF is a democracy fund, not a development fund or a human rights fund. Project proposals that strengthen the voice of civil society in the various democratic processes will be more likely to gain acceptance than project proposals less directly related to democracy promotion. It is anticipated that the vast majority of applicants and short-listed project proposals will emanate from civil society organisations.

Note to We Can Do Readers: Consult the official website for the United Nations Democracy Fund directly for more information on this organization and their funding opportunities. Queries and applications regarding this funding opportunity should be directed to the United Nations Democracy Fund via the instructions at their web site. Please do NOT post those queries at this page (the UNDEF will not see them here) and please don’t inquire with We Can Do (this blog site is not associated with the UNDEF).

This funding opportunity could be one option for organizations that wish to establish projects that would enable people with disabilities in their countries to participate more actively in the democratic political process. Grants can range from $50,000 to $500,000.

If you miss the 2008 deadline, then consult the UNDEF website for information on similar funding opportunities for subsequent years.

I received most of the text of this announcement via Mobility International USA’s international development and disability email updates. Text after “Note to We Can Do readers” is my own. Only information provided directly by UNDEF should be considered official.

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FUNDING for Better Democratic Participation

Posted on 26 November 2007. Filed under: Announcements, Democratic Participation, Funding, News, Opportunities, Resources | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Disabled People’s Organizations (DPOs), other civil society organizations, governments, and official institutions around the world may want to take note:

The United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF) has opened its second funding applications round. UNDEF wants funding proposals for projects meant to build and strengthen democratic institutions, promote human rights, and ensure the participation of all groups in democratic processes. Its second round is open through December 18, 2007. [Edited 30 Dec. ’07 to add: It may be worth finding out if there might be a third round in 2008 … or a fourth in 2009. Follow the links, review their guidelines carefully, and start preparing your proposal early.] As with UNDEF’s first round, they are accepting applications in the following thematic categories:

  • strengthening democratic dialogue and support for constitutional processes;
  • civil society empowerment;
  • civic education, voter registration and strengthening of political parties;
  • citizen’s access to information;
  • human rights and fundamental freedoms;
  • accountability, transparency and integrity.

UNDEF was established in July 2005 as a United Nations General Trust Fund in order to promote democracy. Their funding applications round could be an excellent opportunity to obtain the funds you need to help disabled people participate more actively in your country’s democratic process.

For example, perhaps disabled people in your country find it harder to gain access to your country’s constitution, the daily news, or the positions of political candidates. Or they may find it harder to register to vote; to vote privately; or to enter voting polls. Or DPOs may find it harder to monitor how well your government implements laws that affect disabled people. Does your DPO, civil society organization, government, or official institution have an idea for a project that could help overcome one of these barriers? If so, you may wish to review UNDEF’s criteria carefully to see if your project would be appropriate for this funding opportunity.

You can learn more about UNDEF at the link.

Their Project Proposal Guidelines are available in PDF format in either English or French.

You can apply in English or in French.

Note that one of their application questions, under “project information,” asks whether your proposed project takes into account the needs of “marginalized or vulnerable groups” or whether it addresses the needs of marginalized or vulnerable groups “as a key objective.” You may wish to use this opportunity to argue that a project targeted at disabled
people would be addressing the needs of a marginalized group “as a key objective.” There is space you could use to briefly explain how disabled people are “marginalized” or excluded from the democratic process in your country and how your project is meant to help.

Are you too late to apply for 2007? Don’t despair. This seems to be an annual opportunity, so there may be another chance next year. Do follow the links to UNDEF’s website to learn more about their organization. You may also wish to review information about, and criteria for, past funding rounds to help you start brainstorming and planning your next project proposal. It is never too early to start preparing proposals for funding grants.

The information for this blog post was gathered from the UNDEF web site. We Can Do first learned about this funding opportunity through Disabled People’s International (DPI) weekly newsletter.

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