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UN criticism: Rights of people with disabilities neglected in Switzerland's international cooperation

In mid-March, the UN Committee reviewed how Switzerland implements the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities at home and abroad. Switzerland is still a long way from inclusive development cooperation and humanitarian aid. The committee's recommendations are in line with the long-standing demands of the Swiss Disability and Development Consortium - of which FAIRMED is also a member - on the federal government.

From March 14 to 16, Switzerland had to take a stand for the first time on the status of the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD). Switzerland ratified the UN CRPD in 2014. The purpose of the Convention is to ensure the rights of all persons with disabilities. The review covered both the implementation of the Convention in Switzerland and in its international cooperation. After hearing the Swiss delegation, the UN committee published recommendations that the federal government must now implement by the next review in 2028.

Far-reaching recommendations

With regard to its international cooperation, Switzerland receives fundamental criticism from the committee: In its strategies and projects, it disregards the cross-cutting nature of disability. Moreover, the Confederation does not involve organizations of persons with disabilities in the development of these strategies and projects.

For Switzerland's development cooperation and humanitarian aid, the Committee comes to the following recommendations, among others:

Guidelines: The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) must develop and adopt guidelines to ensure that all of its projects ensure the concerns and rights of persons with disabilities and are consistent with the UN CRPD.

Participation: Persons with disabilities and their self-advocacy organizations must be consulted by the federal government as well as actively involved in the planning, development, monitoring and evaluation of its international cooperation strategies and projects.

Humanitarian Action Plan: in 2016, the Charter on the Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Assistance was adopted. Switzerland adopted the Charter in 2020, but has not yet provided evidence of implementation. Therefore, the UN Committee recommends adopting an action plan that demonstrates the implementation of the Charter and includes clear and measurable targets and indicators.

Data: In future, SDC development and humanitarian projects must collect and evaluate data that is explicitly disaggregated by disability. Only in this way can it be seen to what extent the living conditions of people with disabilities are improved by Swiss projects in countries of the Global South.

The Swiss Disability and Development Consortium (SDDC) welcomes the recommendations of the committee. They reflect the gaps that still exist and coincide with what SDDC has long been calling for from Swiss international cooperation: Switzerland must finally take elementary steps. In particular, the adoption of guidelines to ensure that all international cooperation projects include people with disabilities. These guidelines should serve as the basis for the inclusion of persons with disabilities in all of Switzerland's development and humanitarian work.