International Cooperation

Background information

In February 2019, EDF Board adopted the new EDF’s strategy for international cooperation 2019-2022. EDF has made a strong and positive change in the world, beyond Europe, since its creation. As a founding member of the International Disability Alliance (IDA), EDF was also an active participant in the negotiations of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). EDF has always aimed to contribute to a diverse and effective disability movement globally. In all of our international work, we cooperate with IDA, which is the representative voice of persons with disabilities in the world; and is acknowledged as such by the United Nations system both in New York and Geneva. We are also currently actively involved in the Stakeholder group of persons with disabilities, working closely to ensure the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are inclusive of persons with disabilities.

EDF's role in international cooperation

The primary role of EDF is to promote the rights of persons with disabilities in Europe. However, the CRPD, the European Disability Strategy, the EU budget as well as other European Union (EU) policies and programmes include international components which can be very effective in ensuring the EU plays a positive role as a leading international donor and partner. The EU plays an important role in the world in trade, development cooperation, humanitarian action and human rights and it is important that we use this opportunity to ensure the CRPD is incorporated. Our advocacy to ensure the EU takes a leading role in promoting the CRPD globally was already outlined in our 4-year organisational strategy. (Annex 1 - Objective four of EDF Strategic Framework 2017-2021 on international cooperation).

There are some strong foundations for us to work from. The EU and all its 28 member states have ratified the CRPD. The “Concluding observations on the initial report of the EU” (2015) by the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities were extensive on external policies and programmes, giving the EU, and EDF many points to follow-up on. (Annex 2 - Recommendations from the CRPD committee to the EU on Article 32). The EU is also the largest development donor and has just published its draft budget, for the period 2021-2027, devoting €123 billion for external actions. The “EU Consensus for Development” (2017), which is the European strategy for international cooperation, will frame the spending of the external actions budget. It referred for the first time to persons with disabilities and the CRPD. The EU Consensus on Development is binding on both the EU itself but also on its member states.

Our strategy

Considering the above, we believe that EDF has an active role to play to ensure persons with disabilities and organisations of persons with disabilities (DPOs) are included in EU international cooperation.

The purpose of EDF’s strategy is to outline the scope of our work beyond the European region. Our strategy will serve the following purposes:

  1. Clarify the role of EDF in international cooperation - within the international disability movement and towards the UN structures and EU policy initiatives;

  2. Formulate clear objectives;

  3. Communicate to our members and partners the scope of our international work;

  4. Define EDF’s approach to international cooperation projects.

Because this area of work is under development, this strategy outlines our direction but also activities will be built up on the basis of available resources. Each year, an implementation plan will be presented for adoption. This will include the activities for the year, but also the resources which will be used.

This strategy does not include our work towards the Council of Europe in relation to the Oviedo protocol which is included in EDF’s work on human rights.

The CRPD is the basis of this strategy, therefore, all policies and programmes EDF engages in will be aligned to the CRPD committee General Comments. This is important to note; EDF does not intend to support, and will actively challenge, any activities which would export outdated European practices, such as institutionalisation or coercive treatment.

Our objectives

EDF will work more specifically around the achievement of the five following objectives:

  1. Influencing the European Union;

  2. Strengthening regional level advocacy among regional DPOs;

  3. Advocating for evidence;

  4. Promoting the engagement of DPOs in international cooperation;

  5. Innovation and learning.

Current projects