Today, during the European Development Days, the EU officially launched the new European Consensus on Development.
Since the latest version of the Consensus was adopted in 2005, we have witnessed many developments relevant to the design of development policies. Most importantly, in relation to disability and development, the ratification by the EU of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which includes international cooperation in its article 32, and the adoption by the UN General Assembly of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals.
In short, a new Consensus was overdue, and disability was poised to take a more prominent place than it did back in 2005.
Broader inclusion of questions of disability
We are glad to note that the new Consensus does indeed address the question of disability. First, in a paragraph emphasizing a rights-based approach to development, then in a paragraph addressing the pledge to “leave no one behind”, a hallmark of the Agenda 2030. More prominently, we find a specific paragraph on disability, mentioning the CRPD, acknowledging links between disability and poverty, and higher levels of discrimination for persons with disabilities. It then goes on to urge the EU and its Member States to take into account the specific needs of persons with disabilities in their development cooperation.
Unfortunately, while questions relating to persons with disabilities are more present in the new Consensus, we have to note the more worrying tendencies. Overall, we are witnessing the ‘instrumentalisation’ of development cooperation, subordinating development of partner countries to self-serving interests of the EU. This is especially evident when it comes to the question of migration and the means to control it, or the ‘securisation’ of the development agenda, opening the door to cooperation with security sectors actors with few human rights safeguards, or even in relation to the role of the private sector
Civil Society involvement
The IDDC EU Task Group, along with other civil society actors, including CONCORD, were involved in the process. After the European Commission published its proposal for a new Consensus, we all provided input into a public consultation launched by the EC. In parallel, we followed the drafting of a report on the new Consensus in the European Parliament’s Development Commttee. In a final phase, we focused our advocacy on Permanent Representations of Member States, and towards relevant ministries in Member States.
Now that the renewed European Consensus on Development is officially launched , we will need to work further to ensure that all future programming actually follow the guidelines set in this new Consensus, especially when it comes to inclusion of persons with disabilities, so while we can find some satisfaction in the Consensus, there’s still loads of work to be done.