Building on long-standing dialogue and cooperation between Arab and European countries, ESCWA, in collaboration with the Government of Malta and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities, established the Arab-European Research Network on Disability in January 2022.
The Network acts as an interregional platform for knowledge exchange and capacity-building. It brings together academics, researchers and institutions from Europe and the Arab region, with a shared objective of conducting research that drives change to ensure greater social inclusion of persons with disabilities.
The Network was established under the umbrella of the Valletta Political Declaration, which affirms the rights of persons with disabilities, and which also established the European-Arab Cooperation Forum on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (also known as the Valletta Forum). The Declaration was signed on 25 April 2019 at a forum co-hosted by the Maltese Government and ESCWA. A total of 22 countries and entities have adopted the Declaration, namely Croatia, Cyprus, Egypt, France, Greece, Hungary, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Jordan, Kuwait, Luxembourg, Malta, Mauritania, Morocco, the State of Palestine, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Spain and Tunisia, together with ESCWA and the League of Arab States.
ESCWA is working with its Network partners to undertake the following:
- Enable organizations of persons with disabilities (OPDs) in the Arab region to close data gaps, and access research and knowledge on disability inclusion.
- Build the capacity of OPDs, academia and disability researchers, especially researchers with disabilities, to conduct evidence-based research that informs policymaking for the inclusion of persons with disabilities.
- Strengthen intraregional and interregional cooperation between Arab and European countries, and support knowledge exchange and mutual learning towards disability inclusion.
The Network founders include ESCWA, in collaboration with the Government of Malta, and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities.
The Network partners include OPDs, universities and disability research institutions in Arab and European countries.
The project is implemented through the following activities:
- Conducting consultations with OPDs to formulate disability-inclusive policy recommendations.
- Organizing research workshops and conferences to support disability research and facilitate exchange between Arab and European researchers.
- Publishing research papers and briefs to fill knowledge and data gaps on disability.
- Organizing trainings for OPDs and creating learning opportunities through exchange programmes between Arab and European OPDs.
- Establishing a fellowship programme for disability research.