European NHRIs meet to discuss implementation of UN CRPD, with a focus on inclusive education
On 14 May, ENNHRI’s Working Group on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities met in Brussels to discuss the implementation of the Convention at the national and European levels. Together with key partners, such as those composing the EU CRPD Framework and civil society organisations, European NHRIs addressed the topic of inclusive education, explored regional engagement opportunities and elected a new Chair.
At the meeting, an exchange on past, current and planned work on the rights of persons with disabilities showed that most institutions represented worked on 3 key topics: inclusive education, models of supported decision-making and political participation and representation of persons with disabilities.
However, a particular focus was placed on inclusive education, with interventions delivered on the topic by Belgian NHRI, Unia (the Belgian Interfederal Central for Equal Opportunities), the European Agency on Special Needs and Inclusive Education, the European Network on Independent Living and Human Rights Watch.
During the discussion, emphasis was placed on the importance of: working with civil society actors when working on inclusive education; moving from formal consultation with persons with disabilities towards effective cooperation; going beyond formal equal access to schools towards equal opportunities of learning in practice; and raising awareness of the rights of students with disabilities and explaining to all segments of society what inclusive education entails in practice.
Engagement at European level
The Working Group also explored opportunities for engagement at the European level. For instance, the it agreed to take part in the forthcoming evaluation of the current European Disability Strategy (2010-2020) and to provide comments on the elaboration of the new Strategy (2020-2030).
Participants also discussed with the member organisations of the EU CRPD Monitoring Framework (European Ombudsman, EU Fundamental Rights Agency, European Parliament, European Disability Forum) possible gaps and priorities for the monitoring of the EU’s implementation of the CRPD Convention.
At the level of the Council of Europe, the Working Group agreed to follow the developments before the Committee on Bio-ethics (DH-BIO). In 2018, ENNHRI released a statement raising concerns about the Additional Protocol to the Oviedo Convention.
There was also an agreement to continue work on a compendium on Article 12 of the CRPD, with a focus on models of supported decision-making. The Working Group will collect examples of challenges, good practices and NHRIs’ work on this issue and work closely with civil society organisations, including disabled persons organisations.
Election of a new Working Group Chair
The meeting was the last for Sara Brunet from the Great Britain NHRI (Equality and Human Rights Commission) in her role as Chair, as she stepped down after years of dedication and commitment to the Working Group. ENNHRI’s Secretary-General, Debbie Kohner, thanked Sara for her outstanding leadership and for making ENNHRI a key actor in disability rights in Europe.
The Working Group also selected its new Chair: Rusudan Kokhodze, from the Georgian NHRI (Ombudsman of Georgia). Rusudan works as the Deputy Head of Department of Rights of Persons with Disabilities and is an active member of the Working Group.
Photo: ENNHRI CRPD Working Group meeting – 14 May 2019 – Brussels, Belgium