The Role of DPI in Europe today

February 2015    

Since its foundation in 1981 with the first financial support from North America[1] and North of Europe[2], Disabled Peoples' International had a continuous positive impact on Disabled People's Organizations, the living conditions of and politics for disabled people. The activities of DPI have been and are still very successful which is recognized by the entire society. DPI also was very much involved in the negotiations for the UN CRPD. Our hard work was successful and resulted in the adoption of the UN CRPD in 2006 and the recognition of the equal value of the Human Rights for all whatever his/her abilities. 

In Europe DPI has held its first meeting in 1985 with 23 National Assemblies. But only in 1990 it found the means to initiate concrete actions with a first meeting in Brussels. DPI Europe has been an active and a key initiator of the European Disability Forum. With the organization of the first Parliament of People with Disabilities in 1993 in Brussels, the DPI Committee for the European Community (DPI/EC) had contributed to the establishment of the first European Actions Plans on Disability.

Today, based on the recognition and previous successess, DPI is everywhere engaged to fight for the implementation of the CRPD where it is ratified, and for its signing and ratification in the countries that have not yet joined the process.  At the same time, at all levels the CRPD implementation mobilizes time, energy and money of more and more stakeholders. Some years ago we were often alone when we fought for our basic human rights, but now the implementation of the CRPD mobilizes a lot of traditional and big organizations in which we disabled people are not automatically partners on an equal basis. It is a fact that our competencies and our knowledge are not systemically mobilized and appreciated, and that the DPI motto is more than ever actual and necessary to  remember that “nothing about us” can’t be done “without us". 

Several challenges are front of us, and if today a coalition of  DPOs, the International Disability Alliance -IDA-, is the permanent interlocutor of the UN and of other institutions, nevertheless the key actors of the implementation today are the national and local governments, the administrations and in fact the entire society that has to be involved. Today the role of DPI is  different to that when it was founded and even more important. 30 years ago the priority was to convince politicians and authorities worldwide to create a legal Human Rights instrument that defines and protect the Human Rights of Disabled People,  the CRPD.

Today we have to stimulate, to analyse and to participate in the implementation of positive changes at the local, national and regional level. Our aim is to empower ourselves, people with disabilities, to get stronger, better trained and well organized.

We people with disabilities are convinced that our expertise and our participation is a golden key to open societies.


[1] In particular the Canadian funds by Henry Enns action.

[2] Finland and Sweden

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