On 24 March, 2017, in partnership with the European Disability Forum (EDF), the European Network on Independent Living (ENIL), and Light for the World, we coordinated a side-event at the 17th session of the CRPD Committee on Article 19, the right to live and be included in the community.
The purpose of the side event was to share knowledge and raise awareness about what Article 19 means in the lives of persons with disabilities and their families and to develop a shared understanding of what should be included in the CRPD Committee’s upcoming General Comment on Article 19. A general comment is a statement issued by a treaty body that is used to provide a principles statement and/or interpretation of particular aspects of a convention.
INCLUSION INTERNATIONAL’S MESSAGE
Inclusion International’s presentation highlighted that we are seeking an interpretation of Article 19 that:
- Secures a definitive statement that the right to choose where you live is about closing institutions and is a rejection congregated settings
- Increases the understanding of Article 19’s intersectionality with: employment, education, social relationships/networks, safety, housing, poverty
- Highlights the role of families and their need for support to secure the right of their sons and daughters to live and be included in their communities
- Understands the role of informal/natural supports – particularly in the absence of public resources.
The robust discussion during the side event highlighted the need for clarification about the role of institutions and how to support people to be effectively included in their communities. The issues raised included: the issue of choice; the belief that people want to stay in institutions and concerns about lack of supports in the community.
Responses from the presenters challenged the misconceptions behind the questions and highlighted that:
- In the absence of any other support, there is no choice. Choice is a misnomer.
- CRPD Article 3.c (general principles) is: full and effective participation and inclusion in society. Institutions are inconsistent with this principle.
- When people don’t know anything else they can’t dream of anything else
- It is unfair to assume that things need to be perfect before a person can be removed from an institution. Life can be messy and hard for all of us. That is OK.
- We need to build inclusive communities – focus on inclusive education, building inclusion from the early years. That is where investments should be.
- People are scared of the unknown and change. This can’t hold us back from closing institutions.
RELEASE OF DRAFT GENERAL COMMENT
A draft General Comment will be released soon and Inclusion International will host a series of webinars to support the development of our submission and support our members to call for a General Comment that is progressive and positive.