The Committee of Experts on the Rights of People with Disabilities (DECS-RPD) has published their opinion on the Council of Europe’s recommendations promoting equal opportunities for people with disabilities, and their participation at a local and regional level. These are of course core values of the Council’s Disability Action Plan (2006-2015).
The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe held its 27th Session in October 2014, during which it raised a number of recommendations aimed at strengthening local democracy in order to ensure equal rights for people with disabilities. The DECS-RPD opinion published last December endorses a number of key points raised in the Congress.
Strongly welcomed by the report was the Congress’ recognition of the threat posed by economic, financial, and social crises. Experts shared the Congress’ concern that austerity measures and budgetary cuts to social programmes have, and will continue to contribute to exposing people with disabilities to higher risks of exclusion, poverty, discrimination, marginalisation, illiteracy and negative stereotyping. Accordingly, the DECS-RPD welcomed the Congress’ attention to the issue of appropriate funding for local and regional inclusion policies.
Full support was expressed for the Council’s continued backing of a mainstreaming approach. DECS-RPD concurred that mainstreaming disability in national, regional, and local policies is key to promoting equal opportunities for people with impairments. The participation of persons with disabilities and their representative organisations (DPOs), it agreed, would naturally be an integral part of this process. It recommends supporting empowerment programmes, strengthening DPO capacity and effectiveness in participating in various policy discussions.
Also endorsed was the Congress’ conviction that local and regional authorities are in a position to make a genuine difference in ensuring equal opportunities for persons with disabilities. As governmental stakeholders close to citizens, they are able to design tailor-made strategies for the implementation of both the Disability Action Plan 2006-2015, as well as the CRPD, whilst taking into account local and regional realities.
The DECS-RPD will now prepare a new Council of Europe disability roadmap, which will include targeted objectives for the next year to come, and will take into account the Congress’ suggestions. Meanwhile, the Disability Action Plan’s implementation is currently under assessment on a national level, and will allow the Council of Europe and its Member States to adapt their current programmes, or impose corrective measures in order to meet future challenges in the field.
Note to editors
What the Council of Europe’s Congress of Local and Regional Authorities is?
The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe is a pan-European political assembly, the 636 members of which hold elective office (they may be regional or municipal councillors, mayors or presidents of regional authorities) representing over 200,000 authorities in 47 European states. Read more
What the Committee of Experts on the Rights of People with Disabilities is?
The Committee of experts on the Rights of People with Disabilities is one of the working groups within the Council of Europe’s Committee for Social Cohesion, Human Dignity and Equality (CDDECS). This Committee oversees and coordinates the intergovernmental work of the Council of Europe in the fields of social cohesion, human dignity, equality and antidiscrimination, and advises the Committee of Ministers on all questions within its area of competence. Read more