Statement on Mainstreaming Disability in the European Parliament’s Vote on the Ukraine Facility
We, the undersigned, acknowledge and applaud the European Parliament’s Committee for Foreign Affairs (AFET) and the Committees on Budgets (BUDG) for their pivotal vote on the Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on establishing the Ukraine Facility, which took place on October 5, 2023. This proposed regulation is a critical step towards supporting Ukraine’s short-term recovery needs and fostering its reconstruction and modernisation – reconstruction and modernisation that should, among other things, bring much needed reforms.
We welcome an explicit mention of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the preamble of the Facility and expanding further in the text a key message of the need to mainstream inclusivity and equality as underlining principles throughout the Ukraine recovery process.
The implementation of this Regulation should be guided by the principles of equality and non-discrimination, as elaborated in the Union of Equality strategies. It should promote gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls, and seek to protect and promote women’s and girls’ rights in line with the EU Gender Action Plans and relevant Council conclusions and international conventions. Implementation of the Facility should be in line with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and ensure accessibility in its investments and technical assistance.
In particular, we highlight the following achievements within the Ukraine Facility:
- Meaningful Participation: The vote emphasises the right of persons with disabilities and their representative organisations to actively participate in Ukraine’s recovery, reconstruction, and modernisation efforts. This includes involvement in policy shaping, decision-making processes, consultations, and access to timely and relevant information.
- Inclusion Measures: The vote ensures that measures under the Ukraine Plan will actively contribute to the inclusion of persons with disabilities.
- CRPD Alignment: The implementation of the Facility is mandated to align with Ukraine’s obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), ensuring accessibility is mainstreamed in investments and technical assistance programmes.
- Healthcare and Social Care: The vote addresses the healthcare needs of Ukraine and commits to establishing mental health and trauma care systems. It also calls for the reform of social care systems, with a particular focus on accessibility for persons with disabilities.
- Sustainable and Inclusive Recovery: The vote underscores the importance of a people-centric approach to recovery efforts that aligns with the sustainable development goals, enhances inclusiveness, and promotes social cohesion.
- Transparency: The vote advocates for easily accessible data on the allocation of assistance, ensuring transparency and accountability in the implementation of the Ukraine Facility.
While we express our overall positivity regarding the European Parliament’s position, we remain committed to advocating for a stronger text that addresses additional demands. Specifically, we emphasise the importance of prohibiting the use of EU funding to construct, renovate, expand, or rebuild segregating residential institutions in line with the CRPD Committee’s Guidelines on Deinstitutionalization, Including in Emergencies. We underline the crucial importance of preventing investments from reinforcing the old institutional-based system for persons with disabilities, and nor should EU support or promote new forms of segregation such as the creation of so-called ‘group homes’. As the CRPD Committee has made clear, persons with disabilities who have been subjected to policies of institutionalisation have a right to reparations and redress, and institutionalisation per se must be prohibited as a form of discrimination.
We anticipate the European Parliament’s formal approval of its position during its plenary session that will take place in the second half of October. Subsequently, the text will undergo further negotiations with the Council of the EU, representing Member States, and the European Commission. In order to further enhance the Facility, we call for enhanced efforts to address the following issues:
- Ensuring that accessibility is a core principle of the Ukraine Facility with a cross-cutting approach to all Recovery efforts.
- Promoting the transition to independent living for children, adults, and older persons with disabilities in line with the UN CRPD, the General Comments and the Guidelines on Deinstitutionalization, Including in Emergencies; and ensuring full commitment to deinstitutionalisation as primary approach guiding social policy, health and education system reform.
- Guaranteeing timely collection of disaggregated data by gender, age, and disability and needs assessments as baselines to inform programming and support, and regular publication of information collected.
- Establishing transparent and inclusive monitoring mechanisms which include persons with disabilities and their representative organisations, and other human rights organisations, thereby ensuring that implementation of the Ukraine Facility is human rights based and inclusive.
- Establishing a clear prohibition to invest in building, renovating and running segregated settings, including institutions, group homes, day-care centres and sheltered workshops, and committing instead to invest in community-based services and support for persons with disabilities, including personal assistance.
Further, when adopted, we stress that the European Commission will have a crucially important role in ensuring the Ukraine Facility is implemented in a way that promotes, protects and enhances the positions of persons with disabilities in accordance with Ukraines international human rights obligations. Monitoring of deinstitutionalisation and the process of developing an inclusive social protection system should be prioritised and conducted on an ongoing basis in the context of Ukraine’s accession to the EU.
We extend our gratitude to the co-rapporteurs and all MEPs who championed the inclusion of persons with disabilities and their rights in this crucial text.
- Fight for Right
- European Network on Independent Living
- Disability Rights International – Ukraine
- Disability Rights International
- Validity Foundation