DPI Statement on First Arab Regional Conference
December 16, 2013
Source: Disabled People's International
Final Communiqué of the First Regional Conference for the Establishment of the Arab Office for the Disabled People's International (DPI) under the slogan "Towards the Strategies of Revival - the Movement of Empowerment, Partnership, and Inclusion"
Beirut, Lebanon – 12th-14th December, 2013
The first regional conference for the establishment of the Arab DPI Office was held in Beirut, between 12th to 14th December 2013, under the slogan of "Towards Strategies of Revival - A Movement of Empowerment, Partnership, and Inclusion"
The conference was held following discussions between DPOs and several experts on the rights of people with disabilities in the Arab world. It is based on an initiative by the Lebanese Physically Handicapped Union (LPHU) and the Disabled People's International (DPI) in partnership with Diakonia.
The conference enjoyed the presence of several well-known figures, among whom was the Disabled People's International (DPI) President, Mr. Javed Abidi, and 52 participants, from Lebanon, Jordan, Yemen, Palestine, Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Iraq and Morocco. The Libyan and Syrian delegations were unable to attend due to the political and security situation prevailing in their respective countries.
Taking note of the following circumstances:
- One hundred and thirty eight countries signed and ratified the International Convention for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Accordingly, persons with disabilities, all over the world, were increasingly included in the areas related to inclusive development, national and international policies and programs; additionally, the participation of DPOs and persons with disabilities in monitoring and implementing the CRPD increased substantially; in addition the CRPD enacts regional and international cooperation mechanisms among countries in different regions of the world.
- Sixteen Arab countries have signed and ratified the CRPD since 2007.
- The following indicators show that there was no noted progress in the field of enacting and implementing the CRPD in the Arab World, nor in the areas of national and regional coordination mechanisms:
a) The lack of an effective, influential and regular presence of Arab DPO alliances in international fora particularly at the annual UN Meeting of States Parties.
b) The lack of data, reports and updated information translated into Arabic.
c) The lack of communication mechanisms, resources and tools empowering DPOs to implement the CRPD on a large scale in the Arab world.
d) The wide prevalence of stereotypes based on the medical model still ingrained within disability regulations and legislations in the Arab world; no significant progress was noted to raise the awareness of governmental and non-governmental parties in order to change this prevailing medical model and approach on the legislative level.
e) Arab governments’ attempts to review national legislations in compliance with the CRPD do not conform to our expectations; on the contrary they reveal a low awareness level of the CRPD commitments and spirit. We are still witnessing the ongoing development of discriminatory legislations, policies and programmes.
f) The full absence of any monitoring mechanism on the national level, in conformity with Article 33.2 in the Arab World, coupled with weak governmental coordination mechanisms.
g) The lack of a regional coordination model, and the absence of a database about the disability status in each country in the region. This information, if available, is usually inaccessible, unpublished and difficult to obtain, in addition to the weak regional communication mechanisms on international developments.
- Persons with disabilities in the Arab world still suffer from ongoing exclusion and isolation; according to World Bank estimates, 20% of the poor are disabled persons. Persons with disabilities in the Arab world still suffer from high unemployment and illiteracy rates, weak inclusive mechanisms, and a total absence of some disability sectors including issues related to persons with psychosocial disabilities and short people.
- We gathered at this conference in order to set up a positive and efficient regional civil society framework, this framework aims at reviving the Arab disability movement in favor of a qualitative transformation and the institutionalization of a new regional rights-based movement;
Therefore, we take the following decisions:
- i. Unanimously support the decision of the DPI to give the mandate to the Lebanese Physically Handicapped Union in order to coordinate establishing the DPI office in the Arab region, in addition to establishing the national alliance in Lebanon.
- ii. Open the DPI membership to Arab DPO associations encouraging them to participate and adhere to DPI according to the norms they set up themselves; and encouraging unorganized groups to form disability networks provided that the majority of them represent persons with disabilities; while giving a special focus on parents associations, and organizations of psychosocial disabilities, short people associations, in addition to other marginalized groups.
- iii. Support national alliances to enable them to enact their role in monitoring and implementing the Convention.
- iv. Seek to enhance policy making mechanisms on the national and regional levels.
- v. Endeavor to promote DPO participation in regional fora and set up partnerships in order to institutionalize their inclusion among stakeholders in the private and public sectors, to achieve inclusive development.
- vi. Elect a representative to coordinate the process of setting up a national coalition, convene a national meeting for DPOs to discuss the results of this conference, receive applications from alliances and submit applications to the LPHU to present them to the DPI world Council,
- vii. The representatives were elected according to the information below:
- LEBANON: Hassan MROUE – LPHU
- JORDAN: Adnan AL ABBOUDI - " Disability Equality Forum " (under establishment)
- MOROCCO: Ahmed BARKIYA - "Morocco Forum for Disabilities and Rights"
- IRAQ: Al Hassan AL RIFAEH - "Short Stature People in Iraq"
- ALGERIA: Samir MIDANI - "The Algerian Federation for the Disabled"
- PALESTINE: Shatha Abu Srour from the General Union of Disabled Palestinians
- EGYPT: Reham AL MASRY - "Association of the Seven Million for the Disabled"
- TUNISIA:Yousri AL MAZATY - "The Tunisian Organization for Defending the Rights of Persons with Disabilities"
- YEMEN: Manale AL ASHOUL - "Al Saeda Deaf Girls Association"
- viii. Meet within six months, if possible, to highlight the achieved progress in the establishment of the DPI Arab Regional Office.