On the occasion of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities on 3. December 2020, the Swiss Disability and Development Consortium (SDDC) launches the website www.leave-no-one-behind.ch. The consortium, which includes CBM, FAIRMED, Handicap International and the International Disability Alliance, will use the website to provide up-to-date information on the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) by Switzerland in international cooperation. The website provides resources on inclusive development for persons with disabilities and sets out recommendations for the further implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
The first review of Switzerland before the UN Commitee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is expected to take place in the fall of 2021, when it will have to demonstrate where it stands in the implementation of the UNCRPD. Switzerland ratified the convention in 2014 and thereby committed itself to making its development cooperation and humanitarian aid inclusive.
The COVID-19 pandemic once again highlights the need for inclusive development cooperation and humanitarian aid. Persons with disabilities are among those most affected by the current crisis. They have had to overcome additional barriers and inequalities in all areas of life since the outbreak of the virus, in Switzerland and in the countries of the Global South.
Against this background, the SDDC is calling on Switzerland to ensure the following:
- the participation of persons with disabilities
- access to information for persons with disabilities
- the full social and economic inclusion of persons with disabilities
- the collection and reporting of data on disability
Participation of persons with disabilities
The current COVID-19 crisis has again demonstrated that persons with disabilities and their representative organizations are not actively involved and consulted enough. Otherwise they would not currently have to deal with far-reaching barriers and inequalities in basic human rights issues such as access to health services, information, assistance and education. Persons with disabilities are the experts when it comes to issues that affect them, and they must therefore be actively involved and consulted in all decision-making processes. Switzerland must ensure this in its national and international efforts.
Access to information for persons with disabilities
The right of access to information has long been an established human right and is anchored in many other human rights treaties in addition to the UNCRPD. Nevertheless, reality is lagging behind: during the Corona crisis, persons with disabilities often received no, insufficient or only late information about the virus, and this was due to interventions by organizations of persons with disabilities. If important information on the virus is missing, no protective measures can be taken, neither for themselves nor for others. All information about the coronavirus must therefore be available in accessible formats, including sign language and Braille.
Full social and economic inclusion of persons with disabilities
Even before the crisis, many persons with disabilities were unemployed and had to struggle to earn their living. The employment situation of persons with disabilities has worsened in the Corona crisis and many employed persons with disabilities have either lost their jobs or have to live with a severe income loss. In countries of the Global South, many persons with disabilities work in the informal sector, for example as day-labourers, and thus without any fixed income security. As a result of the lockdown, their income fell from one day to the next. This is all the more serious because persons with disabilities are disproportionately affected by poverty. All Corona emergency aid programs and projects that aim to secure livelihoods and generate income must therefore be inclusive, so that persons with disabilities also benefit.
Data collection and disaggregation by disability
There is a large data gap for persons with disabilities and their inclusion. But only with data broken down by disability and other criteria, can progress on the inclusion of persons with disabilities be measured. The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation must therefore ensure that it collects disaggregated data on disability in its international corona aid projects. In addition, data collected by civil society organizations on disability must be recognized and supplement official data.
These recommendations are an important basis for the implementation of the UNCRPD and thus for an inclusive Swiss international cooperation. Otherwise, persons with disabilities will be left further behind.