On 31 May, the International Disability and Development Consortium (IDDC), the European Disability Forum (EDF) and Human Rights Watch (HRW) gathered Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), representatives of the European Commission, as well as human rights and humanitarian stakeholders for a breakfast meeting at the European Parliament on the Charter on Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action. The event, hosted by MEPs Heidi Hautala (Greens) and Enrique Guerrero Salom (S&D), marked the first anniversary of the Charter after its launch at the 2016 World Humanitarian Summit. It was an opportunity to further engage European stakeholders on disability inclusion and to discuss the role of the European Union and Member States in the implementation of the Charter.
About 30 participants attended the event, including MEPs Helga Stevens (ECR) and a representative of Brando Benifei’s (S&D) office, as well as representatives of the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) Directorate and the European External Action Service (EEAS).
Concrete suggestions were shared. The European Commission could take the forthcoming international fora as opportunities to showcase the EU commitment to the Charter and call on other donors’ and humanitarian actors’ support. It could also mobilize Members States on the Charter via its regular coordination mechanisms. As of today, only nine EU Member States endorsed the Charter. The European Parliamentarian also has a key role to play in ensuring that the EU remains strongly committed politically and in the field to a humanitarian action that is inclusive of persons with disabilities.
All participants, both from civil society and from European institutions, agreed on the necessity for the EU to show leadership to ensure that humanitarian actors dedicate enough time and resources to the inclusion of persons with disabilities, and the need to gain more support to implement the Charter. Specifically, Member States of the European Union should endorse the Charter and support the elaboration of the Inter Agency Standing Committee’s guidelines on the inclusion of persons with disabilities in humanitarian action.
Hosting MEPs, Heidi Hautala (Greens) and Enrique Guerrero Salom (S&D), concluded the event by stating the pivotal role of the European Parliament to influence and support the political effort towards a humanitarian action that is inclusive of persons with disabilities.
Please find a more in-depth article on this event on Handicap International's blog.