Joint working and co-operation between organisations led by disabled people (DPOs) at an international level

On 1st June, this was the focus of an event co-hosted by the Department of International Development (DFID) and the Reclaiming Our Futures Alliance (ROFA). DFID is a government department responsible for providing international aid. A stated aim of DFID is to draw both on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) and to work closely with DPOs to achieve its aims. ROFA is an alliance of disabled people and their Disabled Peoples Organisations (DPOs) which campaigns for equality, drawing on the UNCRPD as its base.

The event was not without controversy. One strongly voiced concern was DFID’s co-hosting of the Global Disability Summit with Kenya, despite the country’s intensely homophobic regime and the impact of that for DPOs representing lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or intersex plus people (LGBTQI+). Another challenge was that, in focusing on four particular issues, inclusive, education, social protection, economic empowerment and humanitarian aid, DFID is failing to address the need also to enshrine fundamental human rights in law, for example to address the UNCRPD’s call for a progressive end to coercive mental health law. A further point made was that the UK government strongly needs to address the crisis for DPOs in this country, the fact that many DPOs are having to close because they are not being resourced.

However, there was some important discussion about the value of a mutual sharing of models, resources and ideas between DPOs across the world, together with suggestions about ways of achieving joint work. We also heard more about attempts to gain representation in groups such as the Commonwealth Disabled People’s Forum, which is meeting in New York shortly, and about the European Disability Forum, an umbrella organisation of disabled people across Europe which is run by disabled people and their families.

Dorothy Gould

Further reading Reclaiming Our Futures Alliance (ROFA) response to DFID Disability Inclusion Strategy Consultation