> Key partner: United Kingdom
> Last updated: 28 June 2021Download PDF
Fifteen per cent of the world’s population live with a disability. In developed and developing countries alike, people with disabilities are subject to discrimination and exclusion, impeding the realisation of their rights and leaving them behind. Relatively few governments and development agencies have made deliberate, concrete commitments to identify, support and involve people with disabilities in development co-operation. This situation reflects a historical absence of political will and the kind of persistent invisibility that advocates of gender equality described decades ago.
In mid-2017, the United Kingdom launched a campaign to build political will and raise awareness of disability inclusion in developing countries. The campaign centred around a Global Disability Summit, which was held one year later in July 2018. Key elements of the UK’s approach included:
Working with key partners: co-hosting the summit with Kenya and the International Disability Alliance (IDA), reflecting the key principle “Nothing about us without us”; involving partners and stakeholders through the Global Action on Disability (GLAD) network.
Building a broad coalition: outreach to governments, multilateral organisations, civil society organisations, the private sector and other stakeholders around a joint vision, the Charter for Change. United Kingdom staff helped build coalitions in developing countries, some of which organised satellite summits.
Requiring concrete commitments: continuous advocacy with co-host Kenya, through embassies and at a political level, to link summit participation to commitments.
Ensuring follow-up: A Global Disability Summit Secretariat has been created to publish and track all commitments, including through follow-up reports, such as those published in September 2019 and March 2021.
Leading by example and living our values:
Ensuring that people with disabilities held key roles in the campaign and that they chaired and spoke at every panel at the summit.
The United Kingdom prepared ambitious commitments for its own development co-operation.
Immediate results from the summit:
More than 300 organisations and governments signed the Charter for Change, an action plan to encourage implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).
More than 900 commitments were made, such as stepping up development programmes for disability inclusion, adapting legislation for greater rights and inclusion in safety nets, and including questions on disability status in censuses.
Self-reported progress indicates that:
By March 2021 implementation was underway for 62% of commitments, with 25% already completed. These include changes in legislation and policy, as well as development co-operation programmes.
68% of respondents to the first survey felt that the summit made it easier for their organisation to work in a more disability inclusive way.
Case studies by governments, multilateral organisations and Disabled People’s Organisations (DPOs) show substantial progress in and awareness of disability inclusion by stakeholders.
The success of the summit was largely due to:
Credibility: working in close partnership with developing countries, notably co-host Kenya and DPOs, putting people with disabilities front and centre of the summit.
Strong political outreach by the UK government and embassies, paired with a communications strategy revolving around the need to move from rhetoric to action.
Ensuring follow-up. This is critical to achieve sustained change. In 2020, the co-hosts of the summit and key stakeholders developed a long-term approach to enable ongoing tracking of commitments and to build on the momentum from the 2018 summit. Some of these actions include:
a follow-up summit in 2022, hosted by Norway and the International Disability Alliance
a partnership approach to accountability, notably national level consultations and workshops facilitated by DPOs and the IDA
creating a full-time secretariat to manage commitment trackers and provide support, linked as much as possible with existing processes such as the CRPD Committee.