The first meeting of the ESCWA Inter-sessional Expert Group on Disability was held on 20-21 September 2016 at the UN-House in Beirut. The group was formed as a result of a call by the Committee on Social Development (CSD), which oversees the work of the Social Development Division of ESCWA, to intensify cooperation on disability policy between ESCWA and its member states.
Against the background of high levels of commitment in Arab countries to better integrate persons with disabilities into social life, the objective of the network is to exchange experience and information on national approaches towards implementing the UN Convention on the Rights of persons with Disabilities.
The meeting brought together officials from seven countries across the Arab region who were nominated by their governments as disability experts, including from Iraq, Lebanon, Mauritania, Morocco, Sudan, Tunisia, and Yemen. Experts from Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Oman, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, the Syrian Arab Republic and the United Arab Emirates will join the network at a later stage.
In addition to discussing the modalities of the expert group, the meeting participants examined certain aspects of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), particularly Article 33 of the Convention, which deals with the institutional set-up to implement it.
Participants also examined the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, especially the disability-related goals and targets. Experts discussed the challenges of disability data collection and disaggregation methods, including in relation to the questions developed by the Washington Group on Disability Statistics.
The participants emphasized that sustainable development can only be reached through full and productive inclusion of persons with disabilities in all aspects of life in order to use their potential as agents of change.
The network will continue working together on policy development and improving the institutional architecture in member countries in order to facilitate full implementation of the Convention and the 2030 Agenda.