Tuesday sees the UK Department for International Development (UK DFID), along with co-hosts International Disability Alliance (IDA), and the Government of Kenya host the first-ever Global Disability Summit in London, UK. The program however shows it’s not very globally oriented.
So the much publicized Global Disability Summit is upon us. On tuesday “high level” disability experts and companies will come together to discuss disability rights across the globe and what they can do to improve them.
Well that’s what you’re supposed to think. Actually it is about advancing disability rights in the developing world. Of course that’s not how the Tories have spun it. If it was really about global rights, shouldn’t our Minister of State for Disabled People, Health and Work Sarah Newton MP be the main UK representative?
Instead it’s the International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt MP Why her? Well that is because the agenda is focussed on developing countries which the DFID deals with.
Also it avoid any awkward questions on the UK’s disability rights being raised. After all how embarrassing would it be if somebody asked about the United Nations Human Rights body carrying out a visit to the UK in November.
Not for the public
Let’s be clear this is not for the public. The event website states;
“Attendance will be high-level: Government Ministers, heads of donor agencies and civil society organisations and CEOs of private sector companies.”
In other words; money.
Another clue that the event is not truly “global” is this statement made by co-hosts International Disability Alliance. This is regarding the selection of attendees representing disability organisations.
“IDA undertook a very detailed nomination and review process to identify a diverse group of (Organisations of Persons with Disabilities) DPO representatives from the Global South.”
At no point is the global north mentioned nor any other attendees. Just the 60-70 from the south are listed as attending.
The final nail in the global claim is this;
“The Summit will generate action in all developing countries. DFID has already started influencing efforts in certain countries, namely: Kenya, Rwanda, Malawi, South Africa, Ghana, Nigeria, India, Uganda, Zambia, Bangladesh, Jordan, Pakistan and Zimbabwe.”
It’s not about disability rights globally, it’s about improving them in developing countries. I have no problem with this as it is indeed a very important point. Why is it being advertised as global though? It appears that misleading seems to be contagious in the Tory party lately.
What’s the agenda?
It starts with an invite only ministerial breakfast and then is followed by what are called “Spotlight Sessions.” The description of these sessions are somewhat vague in nature with terms like “two high profile speakers” and “reaffirm commitment of policy commitments,” being bandied about.
Some of the sessions do look interesting and I hope that ideas and action can be taken to forward disability rights in the countries targeted by the DFID.
There are a few Invite only sessions and nothing is noted on those but one thing there will be plenty of is sales.
There are two market places in the summit hall for attendees to visit and spend at. Microsoft, the Kenyan Government, DFID of course and many others will showcase what they have to sell in the world of disability technology.
Before the keynote speech it aims to end with; “sustainable commitments from developing country governments, donors, civil society, foundations and the private sector.”
Mordaunt has little regard for the disabled
Now it’s worth noting that it was while Penny Mordaunt was Minister for Disabled People that the UN issued a report lambasting the UK for committing ‘systematic violations of the rights of disabled people.’
Before I start, here are a few key votes that the supposed saviour of disabled people, cast in the House of Commons. Click here for source
- 11 Feb 2014: Voted NOT to investigate the impact of austerity measures on the incidence of poverty and inequality.
- 4 June 2015: Voted in favour of proposed spending cuts and changes to the welfare system and in favour of spending on new nuclear weapons.
- 27 October 2015: Voted to remove the “work-related activity component” from the Employment and Support Allowance.
- 8 June 2016: voted for reductions in benefits for disabled and ill claimants who are deemed capable of work.
- 16 November 2016: Voted in favour of reductions to the work allowance element of universal credit and reductions to employment and support allowance and against analysing how changes impact those in different incomes.
Does this look like someone who can advocate for disabled people? In my opinion no. She removed the £30 disability premium and twice voted against analysing how this might impact people.
Yet now she is attempting to advocate for those in developing countries when the Tories are turning ours into one.
This is little more than grandstanding by the Tories to try and look good on disability rights.
Almost daily they are losing court cases and facing investigations over their treatment of some of the most vulnerable in society.
A Brexit Secretary who doesn’t like human rights laws, a Work and Pensions Secretary who well just cannot think of enough ways to target anyone not able to work and rounding off the Brexit Trinity is Penny Mordaunt who talks big on disability rights then votes another.
While I hope that progress is made on improving disability rights in developing countries it is absolutely farcical that the UK is a co-host given its current state of affairs.
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