Thematic Working Group on Disability-related Concerns (TWGDC) Sixth Session
Answer for post-meeting questionnaire regarding ESCAP’s role in poor countries during the Asian Pacific Decade of Disabled Persons
Eiichi Takada – Board Member, World Federation of the Deaf
What can ESCAP do for the poor countries in this region?
The goal of the United Nations in relation to disability issues is “full participation and equality”. Here in the ESCAP region, we also have the goals set forth in the “Biwako Millennium Framework”. I believe that endeavors undertaken in accordance with the BMF should consequently result in the alleviation of poverty. We should also ensure that our endeavors would ultimately cover poverty issues. In order to realize the goals of the BMF, we need to follow the following procedures:
1. The translation of the “Biwako Millennium Framework” into as many different languages as possible:
We should endeavor to translate the BMF into all the languages used in the ESCAP region, and then to disseminate the document widely. We should promote support and understanding toward the BMF by the governments, administrative officers, by persons with disabilities themselves, and by the public at large.
ESCAP should encourage governments to take the responsibility of translating the BMF into the country’s language(s), and, where necessary, give technical support to secure the funds needed to translate and document the BMF text.
The realization of equality in the sharing of knowledge about the BMF is our starting point. It would also be advisable to attach the “Evaluation of the Role of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific in the Implementation of the Agenda for Action for the Asian and Pacific Decade of Disabled Persons, 1993-2002, and in the Achievements of the Decade”, which was compiled by ESCAP in May, 2003.
2. Endeavors to increase the number of countries signatory to the “Biwako Millenium Framework”:
We should endeavor to have all the countries of the ESCAP region sign the “Biwako Millennium Framework”. The Asia and Pacific Disability Forum could support this endeavor. The APCD member organizations of persons with disabilities can lobby with their governments to sign the BMF.
3. Cooperation between the government and self-help organizations of persons with disabilities for the dissemination of the BWM:
SHO of persons with disabilities should cooperate with newspapers, television, radio and other mass media sectors for the achievement of nationwide dissemination of the BMF. Also, the BMF text needs to be translated into Braille for the blind people. For the Deaf, television programs on the BMF need to be interpreted in Sign Language.
4. Holding symposiums and workshops:
It would be effective for ESCAP to hold symposiums and workshops in different countries on the Biwako Millennium Framework. These symposiums and workshops should be attended, not only by persons with disabilities in the hosting country, but by the government, administrative officers, and other related persons. ESCAP can call on governments of the advanced countries, the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, and other donors to support the funding of the event. APDF and the SHO in the advanced countries will cooperate in every way possible. The hosting of the symposium should effectively promote the organization and consolidation of SHO in the hosting country.
5. Conditions for hosting these symposiums and workshops:
When holding these symposiums and workshops, it is important that all the organizations of disabled persons in all the countries of the ESCAP region should be able to participate. Sign Language interpretation, Braille text and other enabling support should be offered as far as possible in consideration of the situation in the host country. The door should be open to all persons with disabilities in the country, so as to be able to disseminate the Biwako Millennium Framework as widely as possible. AODF, SHO in advanced countries, and the TWGDC will be able to offer technical support.
6. Host country of the symposiums and workshops:
It would be effective to host these symposiums and workshops in the least privileged countries such as Cambodia, Bangladesh, etc.
7. Working with counterpart organizations:
The TWGDC should offer technical support to form contacts between the SHO of the advanced countries with their counterpart organizations in each developing country, and ensure, through the holding of symposiums etc., that these contacts are further strengthened. These contacts should develop into a strong supporting bond between organizations of disabled persons in the advanced and developing countries. It is important to ensure that this supporting bond involves not only support in the form of funds and materials, but also support in the form of expertise and technology.
8. Responsibilities of self-help organizations of persons with disabilities:
The problem with SHO in the developing countries is that they cannot form individual organizations for all the different types of disabilities. Governments are not only reluctant to offer assistance toward the development of such organizations, but in some cases, do not recognize the establishment of SHO. It is a pressing issue to support the formation and development of as many organizations of disabled persons over as many different fields of disability as needed.
Not all the organizations of disabled persons in the advanced countries have expertise and know-how on ways to offer support to their counterpart organizations in the developing countries. It is necessary to promote a sharing of experiences and know-how among SHO of the advanced countries in order to develop their capacity to offer technical support.
9. Endeavor to change the direction of intergovernmental support:
Assistance from organizations of disabled persons is not enough to alleviate the disability issues in the developing countries. This cooperation among organizations of disabled persons would be meaningful if it could induce and develop into a larger support program by governments, the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and other donors. Furthermore, ESCAP should encourage governments to change the direction of their intergovernmental support from economic and industrial areas to public and social welfare.
10. For poverty alleviation:
We are not at a stage to discuss action programs in detail. What we need to do at this stage is to ensure that the “Biwako Millennium Framework” is fully disseminated. As we disseminate and implement the BMF, the challenges will become evident. It is then that we should develop a program for the big task of “poverty alleviation”.