Towards a disability-inclusive, accessible and sustainable post COVID-19 world


Disability is an issue that concerns everyone. Any of us could develop a disability throughout our lives resulting from illness, genetic disorder or accident. Today we observe the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. This reminds us to promote the full and equal participation of persons with disabilities and to take action for their inclusion in all aspects of society and development.

The global crisis of COVID-19 is deepening pre-existing inequalities, exposing the extent of exclusion and highlighting that work on disability inclusion is imperative. People with disabilities—one billion people— are one of the most excluded groups in our society and are among the hardest hit in this crisis in terms of fatalities.

This year, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities is being commemorated throughout the week of 30 November to 4 December, in conjunction with the 13th session of the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, with the theme “Building Back Better: toward a disability-inclusive, accessible and sustainable post COVID-19 World”.

The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) is the first international, legally binding instrument setting minimum standards for rights of people with disabilities, and the first human rights convention to which the EU is a party, as reflected in the European disability strategy.

The EU provides financial support through an annual grant to a number of EU-level disabled people's organisations (DPOs) and NGOs (under the rights, equality and citizenship programme) to make their participation in EU-level processes easier. For example, they provide views on the development of EU legislation and policies. These bodies include:

The European structural and investment funds (ESIF) are the EU main financial instruments to strengthen economic and social cohesion. They help ensure social inclusion of the most vulnerable citizens, including those with disabilities.

The Academic Network of European Disability Experts (ANED) provides the European Commission with analysis of data and policies from the EU Member States. It manages DOTCOM, a database which monitors policy instruments related to the UNCRPD in the EU and Member States.

As we observe this special day, let us do all we can to help inclusion of persons with disabilities into the society and workplace. Disability inclusion is an essential condition to upholding human rights, sustainable development, and peace and security. It is also central to the promise of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to leave no one behind. The commitment to realizing the rights of persons with disabilities is not only a matter of justice; it is an investment in a common future.