The first of the reports, in November 2016, found the government had committed “grave and systematic violations” of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities through its policies on independent living, social security and employment.
The second, last autumn, assessed the government’s overall record on implementing the convention, produced an unprecedented number of recommendations for improvements, and led the committee’s chair to tell the UK government that its cuts to disabled people’s support had caused “a human catastrophe”.
Ellen Clifford, who helped organise DPAC’s International Deaf and Disabled People’s Solidarity Summit, which took place two days before the government’s summit (see separate stories), had said that holding the Global Disability Summit so soon after the UN report was like the UK government “sticking two fingers up to the UN”.
But she said she welcomed anything positive that came out of the summit and was “particularly in favour of deaf and disabled people and our organisations making direct links internationally to support each other in our shared struggles.”
She said this could only be done “from the grassroots up”, which was why DPAC had hosted its own summit.
Clifford said that the Department for International Development, which had co-hosted the summit, had said DPAC activists could come inside the summit but would only be allowed in “if you don’t mention the UK government”.
DPAC rejected the invitation, and instead, the International Disability Alliance (IDA), an alliance of disabled people’s organisations which co-hosted the summit, supported DPAC in ensuring that its leaflets were distributed inside the summit.
The leaflets told delegates that the UK government had shown “contempt” for disabled people and the UN convention, had driven its “disabled citizens into degrading and inhumane conditions” and that it appeared to be “attempting to use this event to whitewash its appalling record on disability at home”.
In 2016, the UN’s CRPD told the UK government that it was guilty of “grave and systematic violations” of disabled people’s rights through its policies on independent living, social security and employment.
There has been anger and disbelief that the UK was asking other countries at the summit to sign up to a new charter that calls for governments to be held to account for their progress in implementing the convention, when it had not accepted the CRPD recommendations last September, or in 2016.
Last year, DWP said it was “disappointed” that the UN report “fails to recognise all the progress we’ve made to empower disabled people in all aspects of their lives”.
And the previous year, DWP said that it “strongly disagrees” with CRPD’s conclusions that it had caused “grave and systematic violations” of disabled people’s rights and that the CRPD report “presents an inaccurate picture of life for disabled people in the UK”.
Mordaunt insisted this week that the government had not dismissed last year’s report on the overall implementation of the convention in the UK, and that Newton was now “working through” the recommendations, with announcements expected nest month.
But when asked four times whether she accepted the 2016 “grave and systematic violations” report, Mordaunt declined to do so.
She eventually said that the government had “issues with some of the aspects of the UN process”.
She said: “We think that we have been in some instances unfairly dealt with, but we will continue to engage in that process and I am confident that you will see progress.”
article on opposition party’s reaction
Labour’s shadow chancellor has described the UK government’s decision to co-host a Global Disability Summit – less than a year after its record on disability rights was dismantled by the United Nations – as “the height of hypocrisy”.
The result, last September, was “an outright condemnation of the role that the government has played”.
He added: “It was the height of hypocrisy then for them to host this event.”
He said the summit could have been so much more successful if there had been an “honest discussion about what’s happened to disabled people across the globe but also learning the lessons of what’s gone wrong in this country, and the lessons of what’s gone wrong are that disabled people have born the brunt of austerity”.
The first ever Global Disability Summit took place in London last week, with more than 700 delegates from governments, charities and disability organisations around the world.
In a speech last year to herald the event, Penny Mordaunt – the international development secretary and former minister for disabled people – said the summit would showcase Britain’s “commitment to transform the lives of people living with disabilities”. Theresa May was similarly enthusiastic, pledging the summit would be dedicated to “transforming the lives” of disabled people, and showing how “committed” Britain is to ending disability discrimination.
I can’t help but be reminded of a scene in The Handmaid’s Tale in which the rulers of Gilead put on a grand show to impress visiting international delegates; with the bruised handmaids kept hidden, they are free to present their nation’s treatment of women as something to aspire to.
reported speech from Minister for Women and Equalities
As Minister for Women and Equalities as well, I am particularly conscious of the double discrimination faced by women and girls with disabilities – marginalised for their gender as well as disability. That’s why DFID is committed to amplifying the voices of women and girls with disabilities.
Through the Girls Education Challenge Programme (GEC), UK Aid has supported over 46,000 girls with disabilities to access education. Through the programme’s new Leave No One Behind strand we will back another 15 projects and support 10,000 girls with disabilities.
We are also providing additional funding to the UN Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women to prevent and respond to violence against women and girls with disabilities.
A national disabled people’s organisation is facing accusations that it “betrayed” the UK disability movement after its deputy chief executive failed to condemn the government’s record on rights at a major international gathering of disabled people.
Sue Bott was sharing the stage with a senior government civil servant less than a year after the chair of the UN’s committee on the rights of persons with disabilities (CRPD) said the UK government’s cuts to disabled people’s support had caused “a human catastrophe”.
They were appearing at the Civil Society Forum, an event headed by the International Disability Alliance and intended to “amplify” the voice of disabled people the day before the UK government’s sister event, the Global Disability Forum, was held in the same venue on the Olympic Park in east London.
Bott (second from left) was asked on Monday by the UN’s special rapporteur on the rights of disabled people, Catalina Aguilar, what she would like to ask the UK government to do.
But in front of an audience containing disabled people from organisations across the global south and the UK, Bott failed to criticise the UK government.
Instead, she laughed, and said DR UK wanted to “collaborate” and “learn from disabled people around the world”.
if I may put in a quote by myself….
Eleanor Lisney, a leading disabled activist and member of the Reclaiming Our Futures Alliance network of disabled people and their organisations, said she was “astounded” by Bott’s speech.
She said: “Given that it was such a strong examination by the CRPD she didn’t mention it at all.
“It is not something that is hearsay. This is the UN.”
She said that one of the UN’s key conclusions last year was that one of the strongest elements in the UK was its disabled activists and disabled people’s organisations (DPOs).
Lisney said: “She didn’t mention that, she didn’t give credit to DPOs in her own country, she said she wants to learn from the countries the UK government is giving help to.
“She’s not there for DR UK, she’s there for DPOs in the UK.
“It’s a betrayal, that’s what I call it.”
taken at the protest outside the summit