A vision for inclusive development

The Charter for Change was a superb outcome of the first Global Disability Summit (GDS), but now, while we are working on the next GDS, it is time to take the next steps and honor the ambition of the Sustainable Develpment Goals (SDGs) and the Agenda 2030. The Atlas Alliance’s vision for a declaration, along the lines of GDS 2018’s Charter for Change, reads as follows.

The Oslo Protocol 2022: A Global Disability Reset

The COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to and hastened the disruptive change within our global economic, social, and political systems. The world has witnessed unprecedented healthcare challenges, economic hardships, social upheavals, political volatility, and human costs which has exacerbated the marginalization and exclusion of persons with disabilities, in countries from the Global South and Global North.  

Amid this post-pandemic reality, we have come together in unison in Oslo to reimagine and revamp our societies and to write a new social contract which ensures human rights, respects diversity, and realizes equitable human flourishing for all persons with disabilities, and which promotes and secures a rights-based development agenda.

We want to revitalize and build upon the important work emerging from the Global Disability Summit 2018 and the London Charter for Change: To reiterate that disability rights are human rights, and to rebuild together the post-pandemic world on an inclusive, resilient, and sustainable foundation. We acknowledge that the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) are two pivotal pillars to ensure that persons with disabilities are not left behind but are at the center of all international development cooperation.  

However, post-pandemic the trajectory of inclusion of persons with disabilities has faltered; therefore we hope to usher in a global disability reset for global solidarity in international development, humanitarian aid and human rights advocacy domain. We express unwavering joint international commitment to mobilize political will, change negative attitudes and rebuild equitable societies which ensures human rights, human dignity, and human flourishing for all persons with disabilities.  

As the world gradually recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, we believe that great human tragedy need not be its only legacy. We find ourselves confronting a rare window of opportunity to utilize our human ingenuity, lean on the state-of-the-art technology and to adopt progressive regulatory frameworks to reflect, reimagine, and reshape our shared world. We can seize this opportunity to create a more resilient, equitable, and sustainable common future where all persons with disabilities will be recognized as rights-holders, valued as full citizens, and included in every walk of life.  

The time is right for a new social contract and a global disability reset.

Today we commit to:

  1. From London 2018 to Oslo 2022: Walk the talk

We reconfirm our commitment to catalyse political will and leadership to turn our promises into change; in long-term plans that we invest in, implement and review, and to eliminate stigma and discrimination through legislation and policies that make a difference.

Persons with disabilities ought to be included in the economic sphere, social arena, and political life, on an equal basis with others. We plan to build political consensus, galvanize civil society members, secure public private partnerships, and collaborate with old and new media institutions to usher in a global disability reset for Disability in Development and for the implementation of the CRPD.  
We will follow up on the commitments and revamp the trajectory of the London Charter for Change through monitoring and evaluation of the plans, programs and policies implemented at both global and national level.  

We will secure tracking of inclusion in all development efforts, and to use tools for accountable tracking systems like the OECD-DAC disability marker. We will encourage the collection of quality data on disability to ensure that all groups of persons with disabilities, including the most marginalized, are reached by our interventions and efforts.  
We aim to realize the vision “A Society for all”.   By walking the talk on disability inclusion, we will bring persons with disabilities from the margins to the center in policy, political and public discourse.  

  1. Representation matters: “Nothing about us without us”

We reaffirm our commitment to promote the leadership and diverse representation of all persons with disabilities to be in the front and centre of change; as leaders, partners and advocates. This includes the active involvement and close consultation of persons with disabilities of all ages. 

We acknowledge that resource redistribution and rights recognition is necessary, but not sufficient for disability inclusion and full participation.  

We will promote broad engagement with all persons with disabilities coming from diverse backgrounds and different geographies and consult with Disabled Persons’ Organizations (DPOs) to ensure that diverse perspectives are adequately represented in the society.  

  1. Promote Human Rights and combat Ableism

We reaffirm our commitment to eliminate stigma discrimination through legislation and policies that make a difference, promoting meaningful leadership, and consistently challenging harmful ableist attitudes and practices.

Ableism is a prejudice against persons with disabilities simply because they have a visible or invisible disability and is a violation of basic Human Rights. Persons with disabilities are not inspiring heroes or tragic victims, but they are human beings who possess dignity and worth, and they ought to be treated as equal citizens and must have the same access to human rights as all citizens. Often the discourse on diversity, equity and inclusion fails to include persons with disabilities. Diversity is predominantly understood as gender diversity, equity as racial equity and inclusion as ethnic or minority inclusion. Persons with disabilities who are one of the largest minority groups are excluded from this vital policy, political and public discourse. We will work with the political leaders, corporate heads, civil society members and media moguls and epistemic community representatives to popularize the adoption of disability as diversity.

We will in unison challenge negative attitudes, spurious assumptions and harmful misconceptions encountered by persons with disabilities and eliminate all forms of stigma and discrimination, by introducing hate speech legislations, diversity codes, inclusion policies and equity norms.  

We acknowledge that there is no place for racism, sexism or discrimination based on immutable individual characteristics in the 21st century.  

We will create a society without ableism and create fair, inclusive, and just international development.

  1. Universal healthcare and vaccination for all

We commit to ensuring access to universal healthcare and vaccination for all, also in the countries in the Global South.  

The COVID-19 pandemic has surfaced the international and intra-national fault lines with regards to health disparities, and human fragility on one hand and the general inequity concerning access to and quality of healthcare services on the other.  Throughout the pandemic, persons with disabilities have been discriminated against and left out of national and global responses.  
We shall support policies, programs and actions which provide universal, accessible, affordable primary healthcare and competent tertiary healthcare services to persons with disabilities who are one of the most vulnerable groups, and especially support and promote the lift on vaccine-patents to secure vaccination for all, to combat the vaccine inequity that the COVID-19 pandemic is demonstrating.  

We shall build healthcare systems that allow persons with disabilities to secure mental, physical, and psycho-social well-being. Universal healthcare is a good-in-itself as sustainable societies are built on the back of equitable healthcare systems, which facilitate in creating healthy individuals, resilient communities, and flourishing populations.  

  1. Education for all

We reaffirm our commitment to progress and support actions that advance inclusive quality education for persons with disabilities, with the necessary resources to put plans into practice: every child has the right to learn from birth.

Education is the currency of our knowledge economies and the first step to build resilient societies. Every child and youth have a right to quality education, and ought to grow, learn and thrive in inclusive education institutions. Children and youth with disabilities fail to secure accessible, inclusive, and affordable education in schools.  

We will allocate resources, support programs, and promote actions which universalize education and enhance inclusion of all persons with disabilities in schools through concerted collective effort.  

  1. Work is indispensable

We reaffirm our commitment to open up routes to economic empowerment and financial inclusion so that persons with disabilities can enjoy decent work and achieve financial independence.

Beyond the obvious merits of financial autonomy and economic empowerment, work is indispensable for building social networks, increasing community participation, enhancing political engagement, securing psycho-social well-being, and realizing human dignity. We support policies, programs, and actions which contribute to the financial inclusion, material well-being, and economic emancipation for all persons with disabilities as they lack access to livelihood opportunities and gainful employment.  

We will work together to create avenues which provide decent work, offer vocational rehabilitation and skills training, recruit persons with disabilities, organize inclusive, universally designed, and accessible workplaces.  

We will ensure to strengthen policies which promote skill acquisition, lifelong learning, and labor market participation, tweak the social security programs to avoid locking persons with disabilities in the disability benefit traps.  

  1. Technology a promising great leveler

We reaffirm our commitment to revolutionise the availability and affordability of appropriate assistive technology, including digital, which will enable persons with disabilities to fully participate and contribute to society.

Technology has rapidly advanced, profusely diffused and immensely altered economic development, social arrangements, and political priorities. The adoption and proliferation of technology has opened new pathways for persons with disabilities to access education and employment, participate in community and civil society and partake in democracy and governance. At the same time lack of access to the technology, knowledge and financial resources has created a digital divide which enlarges the gap between those who have access to appropriate technology and those who have not.

We will ensure that persons with disabilities get access to affordable and accessible assistive tools and technology on one hand and we will promote the adoption of universally designed products, services, and environment on the other.  

By leaning on state-of- the-art technology that is adapted to and made available to low income countries and communities we would collaboratively work to lower or eradicate attitudinal, institutional, and environmental barriers and simultaneously create a level playing field wherein all persons with disabilities irrespective of their age, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, socio-economic background, and geographical location could fully participate and be included in the society.  

We will actively support policies, programs and actions which help to overcome the digital divide and build a more fair, equitable and sustainable world.

 8. Human caused catastrophes and natural disasters

We reconfirm our commitment to change practices to make all humanitarian action fully inclusive and accessible to persons with disabilities. We will mainstream inclusion across all Disaster Risk Reduction and humanitarian sectors and implement our commitments in the Charter ‘Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action’.i

A large proportion of disability results out of wars, violent conflicts and human caused ecological displacement on one hand and the recurrence of famines, floods, and other natural disasters on the other. Nearly one of four refugees from crisis and conflicts are disabled. Persons with disabilities who are trapped in these situations of human caused catastrophes and natural disasters are not protected according to their basic human rights and are often left behind. .  

We will ensure and support all humanitarian interventions to mainstream disability in  policies, programs, and action plans. We will ensure that humanitarian action is planned and implemented in an inclusive, accessible, fair and sustainable manner which reasserts the primacy of principle that disability rights are human rights, and they ought to be respected, protected and fulfilled even in the most dire social and humanitarian situations.

   9. Youth with disabilities: Agents of change

We commit to supporting and promoting young people with disabilities as catalysts for bringing inclusive, resilient, and sustainable development across societies in the Global South.

Young people are attributed as being independent, strong, active, entrepreneurial, capable, productive, and mature whilst youth with disabilities have to encounter ableist attributes such as dependent, weak, passive, cautious, incapable, unproductive and childlike.  
We acknowledge that young people with disabilities are also agents of change and we will work in close cooperation with organizations of youth with disabilities on issues concerning human rights, education, employment, healthcare services, social security, and political participation.    

By mobilizing and supporting youth with disabilities and their organizations we will also to address the inter-generational inequities.

   10. Girls and women with disabilities: Beyond multiple discrimination to equitable empowerment

We reaffirm our commitment to cater to the needs of most marginalized, least privileged, and underrepresented groups of all ages, geographies, ethnicities, religious minorities and other vulnerable backgrounds, especially girls and women with disabilities who encounter multiple forms of discrimination.  
Nearly one in five women live with disabilities and in low- and middle-income countries they constitute almost three quarters of persons with disabilities. Girls and women with disabilities bear a dual burden of gender based and disability-based discrimination. In addition, they face an increased risk of physical and sexual violence, socio-economic exploitation, and human rights violations.  
We will reiterate our commitment towards inclusion of girls and women with disabilities across political, policies and public discourse. We will follow an inter-sectional approach to comprehensively analyze and take joint action against the vectors of domination which results into marginalization, oppression and exclusion of girls and women with disabilities and to identify and remove specific barriers that prevent women and girls with disabilities from enjoying equal rights.
We will partner with gender based civil society organizations and work towards raising social consciousness on theme of inclusion and empowerment of girls and women with disabilities. We will find avenues to ensure gender mainstreaming and disability mainstreaming converge across policies, programs, projects in international development aid, humanitarian work and human rights advocacy actions.

   11. Active citizenship

We commit to ensuring security, strengthen autonomy, and increase the influence of persons with disabilities in their societies by enacting legislations, framing policies, and creating incentive/disincentive structures.

Persons with disabilities are often assessed as second-class citizens or objects of charity across many societies. They encounter threat of violence and economic exclusion, confront reduced independence as they cannot make free choices and have limited community participation along with restricted political engagement. The governments should include the CRPD in national laws and frame policies which offers financial and physical security, frame legislations such as personal assistance schemes which allows persons with disabilities to make independent choices, and finally encourage the political representation of persons with disabilities across all levels in the government bureaucracy.  

We will ensure that persons with disabilities are assessed as full citizens who have right to equal participation and appropriate representation of their individual and collective interests.  

   12. Resilient societies and inclusive world

We commit to build stronger consensus among political leaders, businesses and civil society organizations and work in close proximity with multi-lateral agencies such as the United Nations and its affiliated organizations and supra-national organizations such as the European Union, African Union, Union of South American Nations among others to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals and realize the principles of CRPD.

Through our collective actions, we will frame inclusive development policies, design equitable programs and work towards the realization of democratic societies which respect the human rights of all persons with disabilities and realizes our common human rights.

The COVID-19 pandemic has accentuated the health disparities, human fragility, and global inequities on one hand and drive to find common solutions to our common problems on the other. The disruption caused by COVID-19 pandemic offers us an opportunity to collaborate collectively to build inclusive and resilient societies and ensure global equity and equal access to resources and health-services like vaccines for all.  

This pandemic has reiterated the interconnectedness of the global economies, interdependence of nation states and interwovenness of our human destiny and challenged our dominant economic divide into rich and poor countries.  

The questions concerning human mortality, morbidity and mutuality calls us to collectivize our actions, efforts, and resources to build a more inclusive, equitable and sustainable world. By harnessing collective political will, mobilizing human ingenuity, implementing and monitoring progressive policy reforms, we hope to create a just and inclusive world, as whatever affects one directly, affects all.

*Please note the following:

  1. This is a comprehensive blueprint of 12 goals which could be further refined into concise and cogent commitment goals after joint deliberation.  
  1. 12 as a number was purposefully chosen with the view to differentiate the Oslo Protocol from the London Charter. In addition, number 12 has deep historical, metaphysical, and symbolic meaning and it could resonate with wider audience with diverse cultural views.
  1. We have used the London Charter for change, UNCRPD, SDG, Atlas documents (reports, strategies), the great reset, empirical works concerning, disability policies and laws, human rights, youth empowerment, diversity, accessible technology, and influence of DPOs and  scientific/non-scientific publications as a springboard.
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