‘Hypocrisy claim’ after government admits funding 17 foreign DPOs for shadow reports


newslatestThe government has admitted funding 17 disabled people’s organisations (DPOs) in developing countries to produce critical reports for the UN on their own governments, while refusing to fund DPOs for similar work in the UK.
The admission came in a response from the Department for International Development (DfID) to a Freedom of Information (FoI) Act request submitted by Disability News Service.
The shadow reports are a vital part of the process of implementing the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).
Disabled people and their organisations can submit their thoughts on how their government has implemented the UNCRPD in the shadow reports, which give alternative views to the reports submitted to the UN by their own governments.
But the process of preparing shadow reports in the UK has been hampered by a lack of funding for DPOs.
The government originally admitted that DfID was funding DPOs in developing countries to write shadow reports, in a meeting attended by Mark Harrison, chief executive of Equal Lives, and the Liberal Democrat international development minister Lynne Featherstone this summer.
But DfID has now admitted the full scale of this funding.
It said in its FoI response that it had provided money – channelled through international voluntary organisations – to “17 organisations to contribute to the development of alternative (non-state) reports on the implementation of the UNCRPD in their countries”.
As some of this funding has been spread over a number of years, DfID has been unable to say how many organisations have received funding each year.
Harrison said the government’s decision to refuse to fund UK DPOs to prepare shadow reports was “hypocritical” when it was so funding so many DPOs from the global south to do the same work.
He said that DfID had been excluding UK DPOs from its work in developing countries since ratifying the UNCRPD in 2009.
Harrison said DfID funding was fed instead through international disability charities, a policy which contradicts the convention, which requires governments – in implementing policies relating to disabled people – to “closely consult with and actively involve persons with disabilities… through their representative organizations”.
He said: “The UK government and its agents, like the Equality and Human Rights Commission, have refused to fund a [UK] shadow report.
“It is a requirement of the UN convention that they support that process and they have refused to do it.”
He said there had been “good support” and “good cooperation” from DfID with UK DPOs between 2000 and 2007, but that this stopped after ratification of the UNCRPD.
He said: “At a time when it should have increased resources to UK DPOs to work with our sister organisations in the south to promote the convention, we were cut out in favour of working with the disability charities.”
Harrison said the big international disability charities had a “different approach” to DPOs, and “do not want to rock the boat because their funding depends on them being compliant and less critical” when working in developing countries.
15 October 2014