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Government fails to attend UN meeting to discuss progress on disability rights

The government has failed to attend a meeting at the United Nations (UN) in Geneva to assess its progress on the treatment of disabled people.

The meeting was scheduled to occur on Monday 28th August, following a report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) which assessed to how much progress the government had made towards 11 UN recommendations made in 2016.

These recommendations suggested that the government ensures:

  1. They conduct a cumulative impact assessment
  2. Welfare reforms are rights-based
  3. Legislation and policy changes respect disabled people’s rights
  4. Public budgets account for rights of disabled people
  5. All communications are accessible
  6. Accommodations are made so that justice is accessible
  7. Disabled people and their organisations are actively consulted and included
  8. Negative or discriminatory stereotypes are reduced
  9. Policies and programmes do not hinder disabled people’s rights
  10. Mechanisms and indicators to monitor impact are established
  11. They respond to these recommendations within the specified timeline.

The report found that while progress had been made in some of the areas, none of the 11 recommendations had been fulfilled entirely.

Given this limited progress, the government pulled out of the meeting, saying it will now give evidence in March 2024.

Government does not want to undergo public scrutiny

According to Disability Rights UK, the government told the UN Committee that monitors implementation of the UNCRPD that it does not want to undergo public scrutiny on its progress at the meeting, and the meeting in March will only be attended by Disabled People’s Organisations and human rights and equality bodies.

However, disability campaigners say the government’s refusal to attend if “offensive” the UN’s disability committee.

Linda Burnip, co-founder of the Disabled People Against Cuts campaign, told the BBC that her campaign group has no paid staff, yet they are still able to meet important deadlines.

“Frankly, if we can meet deadlines I think it’s a disgrace that the government can’t too,” she said.

A kick in the teeth

Kamran Mallick, CEO of Disability Rights UK, said the government’s refusal to attend the meeting “feels like yet another kick in the teeth when we’ve had a mouthful of painful broken molars since the UN’s damning report in 2016.”

“Time and again the Government is refusing to engage with disabled people in a meaningful way. It has launched a Disability Action Plan, but is still not listening to the acute needs of disabled people.

“If disabled people are able to attend this important meeting, despite all the barriers that go with our ability to cross Europe to attend, why can the government not attend?” he asked.

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