COUNCIL OF EUROPE
COMMITTEE OF MINISTERS
of the Committee of Ministers to member states
on the Council of Europe Action Plan to promote the rights and full participation of people with disabilities in society: improving the quality of life of people with disabilities in Europe 2006-2015
(Adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 5 April 2006
at the 961st meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies)
The Committee of Ministers,
Recalling Resolution (59) 23 of 16 November 1959, on the extension of the activities of the Council of Europe in the social and cultural fields;
Having regard to Resolution (96) 35 of 2 October 1996 revising the Partial Agreement in the Social and Public Health Field, whereby it revised the structures of the Partial Agreement, and resolved to continue, on the basis of revised rules replacing those set out in Resolution (59) 23, the activities hitherto carried out and developed by virtue of that Resolution, aimed at, inter alia, integrating people with disabilities into the community with a view to defining and contributing to the implementation at European level of a model coherent policy for people with disabilities, based on the principles of full citizenship and independent living, implying the elimination of barriers to integration, whatever their nature, whether psychological, educational, family-related, cultural, social, professional, financial or architectural;
Considering that the aim of the Council of Europe is to achieve greater unity between its members and that this aim may be pursued, inter alia, by the adoption of common rules in the disability policy field for the purpose of promoting the protection of political, civil, social, cultural and educational rights;
Bearing in mind the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ETS No. 5);
Bearing in mind the principles embodied in the revised European Social Charter (ETS No. 163), namely the right of persons with disabilities to independence, social integration and participation in the life of the community;
Having regard to the United Nations Standard Rules on the Equalisation of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities, 1993;
Having regard to the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) of the World Health Organisation (WHO), 2001;
Having regard to the Convention concerning Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (Disabled Persons) of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) (No. C159), 1983, and the corresponding ILO Recommendation on Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (Disabled Persons) (No. R168), 1983;
Having regard to Recommendation No. R (92) 6 of the Committee of Ministers to member states on a coherent policy for people with disabilities;
Having regard to the Ministerial Declaration on People with Disabilities “Progressing towards full participation as citizens”, adopted at the Second European Conference of Ministers responsible for integration policies for people with disabilities held in Malaga (Spain) on 7 and 8 May 2003;
Having regard to the Action Plan of the Third Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Council of Europe (CM(2005)80 final), adopted in Warsaw on 17 May 2005, which lays down the role and main responsibilities of the Council of Europe in the coming years;
Having regard to Recommendation 1592 (2003) by the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly “Towards full social inclusion of people with disabilities”;
Reaffirming the universality, indivisibility and interdependence of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and the need for people with disabilities to be guaranteed their full enjoyment without any discrimination;
Considering that the estimated proportion of persons with disabilities in the total population in Europe is 10-15%, that the main causes of disability are disease, accidents and disabling conditions among the elderly, and that the number of disabled people is expected to grow steadily due to increasing life expectancy, inter alia;
Considering that failure to promote the rights of citizens with disabilities and to ensure equality of opportunities is a violation of human dignity;
Considering that ensuring equal opportunities for members of all groups in society contributes to securing democracy and social cohesion;
Convinced that the human rights based approach to ensuring the integration and full participation of people with disabilities in society should be incorporated in all relevant policy areas at international, national, regional and local level;
Emphasising the need to mainstream disability issues in all sectors through coherent policies and co-ordinated action;
Acknowledging the work carried out by the Council of Europe Committee on the Rehabilitation and Integration of People with disabilities (CD-P-RR) in the drafting of this Disability Action Plan;
Emphasising the importance of establishing partnerships with non-governmental organisations of people with disabilities in the implementation and follow-up of the Disability Action Plan,
Recommends that the governments of the member states having due regard to their specific national, regional or local structures and respective responsibilities:
a. integrate as appropriate in their policy, legislation and practice the principles and implement the actions set out in the Council of Europe Action Plan to promote the rights and full participation of people with disabilities in society: improving the quality of life of people with disabilities in Europe 2006-2015, as it appears in the appendix to this recommendation;
b. promote the implementation and application of the Council of Europe Disability Action Plan 2006-2015 in areas which are not the direct responsibility of public authorities, but where they nonetheless have a certain power or may play a certain role;
c. assure to this end the widest possible dissemination of this recommendation amongst all parties concerned, for example through awareness-raising campaigns and co-operation with the private sector and civil society, involving, in particular, non-governmental organisations of people with disabilities.
Appendix to Recommendation Rec(2006)5
Council of Europe Action Plan
to promote the rights and full participation of people with disabilities in society: improving the quality of life of people with disabilities in Europe 2006-2015
1. Executive Summary
3. Key action lines
3.1. Action line No. 1: Participation in political and public life
3.2. Action line No. 2: Participation in cultural life
3.3. Action line No. 3: Information and communication
3.4. Action line No. 4: Education
3.5. Action line No. 5: Employment, vocational guidance and training
3.6. Action line No. 6: The built environment
3.7. Action line No. 7: Transport
3.8. Action line No. 8: Community living
3.9. Action line No. 9: Health care
3.10. Action line No. 10: Rehabilitation
3.11. Action line No. 11: Social protection
3.12. Action line No. 12: Legal protection
3.13. Action line No. 13: Protection against violence and abuse
3.14. Action line No. 14: Research and development
3.15. Action line No. 15: Awareness raising
4. Cross-cutting aspects
4.2. Women and girls with disabilities
4.3. People with disabilities in need of high level of support
4.4. Children and young people with disabilities
4.5. Ageing of people with disabilities
4.6. People with disabilities from minorities and migrants
5. Implementation and follow-up
Appendix 1 Malaga Ministerial Declaration on People with Disabilities “Progressing towards full participation as citizens”, adopted at the Second European Conference of Ministers responsible for integration policies for people with disabilities, Malaga (Spain), 7-8 May 2003
Appendix 2 Reference texts
1. Executive Summary
1.1.1. Malaga Ministerial Declaration on People with disabilities
In 1992, following the first European Conference of Ministers responsible for policies on people with disabilities, Recommendation No. R (92) 6 on a coherent policy for people with disabilities was adopted by the Committee of Ministers.
This pioneering recommendation influenced disability policies for more than ten years and prompted new inclusive policy plans that have positively benefited people with disabilities both nationally and internationally.
However, major changes have taken place in society and new strategies are needed to further progress a social and human rights based approach to disability issues in the next decade.
In May 2003 at the Second European Ministerial Conference, which took place in Malaga, Spain, the Ministers responsible for policies on people with disabilities adopted the Malaga Ministerial Declaration on People with disabilities “Progressing towards full participation as citizens”.
An appropriate strategy was set out to elaborate a Council of Europe Disability Action Plan aimed at promoting human rights and improving of the quality of life of people with disabilities in Europe.
1.1.2. Mission statement
The Council of Europe Disability Action Plan 2006-2015 seeks to translate the aims of the Council of Europe with regard to human rights, non-discrimination, equal opportunities, full citizenship and participation of people with disabilities into a European policy framework on disability for the next decade.
This Action Plan aims to provide a comprehensive framework that is both flexible and adaptable in order to meet country-specific conditions. It is intended to serve as a roadmap for policy makers, to enable them to design, adjust, refocus and implement appropriate plans, programmes and innovative strategies.
The Council of Europe will seek to implement the Disability Action Plan by providing assistance to all member states in the form of recommendations, advice and expert information.
1.2. Fundamental principles and strategic goals
1.2.1. Fundamental principles
Member states will continue to work within anti-discriminatory and human rights frameworks to enhance independence, freedom of choice and the quality of life of people with disabilities and to raise awareness of disability as a part of human diversity.
Due account is taken of relevant existing European and international instruments, treaties and plans, particularly the developments in relation to the draft United Nations international convention on the rights of persons with disabilities.
The Council of Europe’s New Strategy for Social Cohesion (2004) points out that there has to be particular commitment to ensure access to human rights for people who are at risk of becoming vulnerable, such as children and young people, migrants and ethnic minorities, people with disabilities and the elderly.
The Disability Action Plan acknowledges the basic principle that society has a duty towards all its citizens to ensure that the effects of disability are minimised through actively supporting healthy lifestyles, safer environments, adequate health care, rehabilitation and supportive communities.
1.2.2. Strategic goals
The key objective of the Disability Action Plan is to serve as a practical tool to develop and implement viable strategies to bring about full participation of people with disabilities in society and ultimately mainstreaming disability throughout all the policy areas of the member states. The Action Plan aims at meeting country-specific conditions as well as transition processes that are taking place in various member states.
It comprises recommendations to take specific actions at national level and also illuminates aspects of vulnerable groups of people with disabilities who face specific barriers and problems that require a cross-cutting response.
It encourages member states to respond to the needs of people with disabilities by providing quality and innovative services and consolidating measures already in place.
The Action Plan seeks to provide a useful source of inspiration for private enterprise, non-governmental organisations and other international organisations. It considers non-governmental organisations of people with disabilities to be competent and expert partners in policy development, who should be consulted as stakeholders in decision-making processes which affect their lives. The implementation of the Action Plan will be monitored and regularly evaluated to identify progress at national level as well as to share good practices.
1.3. Key action lines
The Council of Europe Disability Action Plan has a broad scope, encompassing all key areas of the life of people with disabilities. These key areas are duly reflected in 15 action lines which set out key objectives and specific actions to be implemented by member states.
The action lines are the core of the Action Plan. They cover the following areas:
– No. 1: Participation in political and public life;
– No. 2: Participation in cultural life;
– No. 3: Information and communication;
– No. 4: Education;
– No. 5: Employment, vocational guidance and training;
– No. 6: The built environment;
– No. 7: Transport;
– No. 8: Community living;
– No. 9: Health care;
– No. 10: Rehabilitation;
– No. 11: Social protection;
– No. 12: Legal protection;
– No. 13: Protection against violence and abuse;
– No. 14: Research and development; and
– No. 15: Awareness raising.
Participation in political and public life (No. 1) and democratic processes is essential for the development and maintenance of democratic societies. People with disabilities should have the opportunity to influence the destiny of their communities. It is therefore important that people with disabilities be able to exercise their right to vote and participate in political and public activities.
To be fully integrated into society, people with disabilities should also be able to participate in the cultural life (No. 2) of that society. Appropriate measures should be taken to ensure that people with disabilities can participate in cultural activities and associations and can develop and utilise their creative and intellectual potential for their own benefit and that of their communities.
In this regard, access to information and communication (No. 3) is a prerequisite. It is important that public and private providers of information and communication take the needs of people with disabilities into account. Appropriate measures should be taken to ensure that people with disabilities can receive and impart information on an equal footing with other members of society.
Equal access to education (No. 4) is a fundamental requirement for ensuring social inclusion as well as independence for people with disabilities. Education should cover all life stages from pre-school education to professional education, as well as life-long learning. Mainstream education and specialised programmes, as appropriate, should be encouraged to work together to support people with disabilities in their local communities. A mainstream approach can also contribute to non-disabled people’s awareness and understanding of human diversity.
Employment, vocational guidance and training (No. 5) are key factors for the social inclusion and economic independence of people with disabilities. Legislation, measures and services are needed to ensure equality of opportunity for disabled people in obtaining and retaining a job. Equal access to employment should be enhanced by combining anti-discrimination and positive action measures and by mainstreaming issues related to the employment of people with disabilities in employment policies.
An accessible, barrier-free built environment (No. 6) encourages equal opportunities, independent living, active involvement in the community and access to employment. By applying the principles of Universal Design an environment that is accessible to people with disabilities can be established and the creation of new barriers can be avoided.
The development and implementation of accessible transport (No. 7) at all levels should result in a substantial improvement of the accessibility of passenger transport services for all people with disabilities. This is a prerequisite to achieving independence, full participation in the labour market and active participation in the community.
People with disabilities should be able to live as independently as possible, including being able to choose where and how to live. Opportunities for independent living and social inclusion are first and foremost created by living in the community. Enhancing community living (No. 8) requires strategic policies which support the move from institutional care to community-based settings, ranging from independent living arrangements to sheltered, supportive living in small-scale settings. It also implies a co-ordinated approach in the provision of user-driven, community-based services and person-centred support structures.
Disabled people, like non-disabled people, require adequate health care (No. 9) and should have equal access to good quality health care services that are respectful of clients’ rights. In this regard it is important that health care professionals (be trained to) focus more on the social model of disability.
To prevent the deterioration of disability, alleviate its consequences and enhance independence of people with disabilities, comprehensive rehabilitation (No. 10) programmes that include an array of accessible, and, where appropriate, community-based services, should be implemented.
Services provided by the social protection (No. 11) system – including social security, social assistance and support – can contribute to the quality of life of their recipients. People with disabilities should be able to adequately benefit from social protection systems and have equal access to these services. Policies encouraging a shift from benefit dependency towards employment and independence should be promoted, where possible.
People with disabilities should have access to the legal system on the same basis as other citizens. Legal protection (No. 12) entails taking appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against people with disabilities. An adequate legal and administrative framework is necessary to prevent and combat discrimination.
Society also has a duty to prevent and protect people against acts of abuse and violence (No. 13). Policies should be aimed at safeguarding people with disabilities against all forms of abuse and violence and ensure appropriate support for victims of abuse and violence.
Research and development (No. 14), statistical data collection and analysis are essential to design and implement well-informed and evidence-based policies. Reliable information is helpful in order to identify emerging issues and helps to design solutions. It is also important to identify best practices and to monitor change in society.
Awareness raising (No. 15) is a key issue that underpins the whole Action Plan. Discriminatory behaviour and stigmatisation should be opposed and replaced by accessible and objective information on the consequences of impairments and disabilities in order to promote a better understanding of the needs and rights of people with disabilities in society. Action should be aimed at changing negative attitudes towards people with disabilities and should promote mainstreaming of disability issues in all government publications as well as publications of the media.
1.4. Cross-cutting aspects
Within the European disabled population there are people with disabilities who face specific barriers or experience two-fold discrimination.
Women and girls with disabilities, people with disabilities in need of a high level of support, children and young people with disabilities, ageing people with disabilities and people with disabilities from minorities and migrant communities have a higher risk of exclusion and generally have lower levels of participation in society than other disabled people.
Women and girls with disabilities often face multiple obstacles to participation in society due to discrimination on grounds of both gender and disability. The specific situation of women and girls needs to be taken into account in the development of both disability and gender mainstream policies and programmes at all levels.
One of the more vulnerable groups of people with disabilities is the group of people who, due to the severity and complexity of their disability, are in need of a high level of support. Their quality of life is very much dependent on the availability of appropriate quality services and specific, often intensive support. Planning and co-ordination across relevant authorities, government agencies and service providers are needed to adequately address the specific problems of this group of people.
Children with disabilities should enjoy the same rights – as laid down in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child – and opportunities as other children. Young people with disabilities are also a vulnerable group in our society. They still face considerable barriers in accessing all aspects of life. The specific problems faced by children and young people with disabilities must be studied in greater depth in order to design and implement well informed policies across a wide spectrum of policy areas.
The progressive ageing of people with disabilities, particularly of those requiring more intensive support, presents new challenges for societies across Europe. Innovative approaches are required to meet these challenges across a wide range of policy and service areas.
People with disabilities from minorities and migrant communities may experience multiple disadvantages because of discrimination or lack of familiarity with public services. A comprehensive approach, taking account of cultural background, language and particular needs, is required to address specific problems these groups may face.
The above-mentioned specific groups of people with disabilities require a cross-cutting response to ensure their inclusion in society. Policy makers need to acknowledge the barriers and challenges faced by each of these groups and ensure that policies include actions that cut across many key action lines to remove those barriers and ensure that individuals can reach their full potential. A twin-track approach, departing from this Action Plan and the Council of Europe’s New Strategy for Social Cohesion (2004), is needed to promote the development of effective cross-cutting and integrated policies.
1.5. Implementation and follow-up
In line with the fundamental principles underpinning the action lines and the cross-cutting aspects, Universal Design principles, quality, training and mainstreaming are vital elements of the implementation strategy of the Disability Action Plan. The application of Universal Design principles is of paramount importance for improving the accessibility of the environment and the usability of products. It is also essential that all policies, actions and services be underpinned by high standards in terms of quality. A mainstream approach in policy development and service delivery plays an important role in promoting a more inclusive society.
Member states have primary responsibility for implementing disability policies at national level and in particular for implementing the specific actions referring to them under each action line. Member states should start by an evaluation of existing policies and underlying basic principles against the blueprint of the Disability Action Plan, to identify in which areas progress has yet to be made and which specific actions have to be carried out.
Based on that evaluation, member states should set up strategies aimed at bringing their policies progressively in line with the recommendations and underlying basic principles of the Disability Action Plan, within the framework of national financial resources.
Member states should seek joint approaches and establish partnerships with relevant stakeholders, in particular with non-governmental organisations of people with disabilities, in the implementation and evaluation of the Disability Action Plan.
All relevant bodies and committees of the Council of Europe have been consulted to ensure an increased awareness and implementation of the Disability Action Plan.
The Committee of Ministers will designate an appropriate forum to manage the follow-up process and could recommend that member states analyse specific priority issues in depth. Effective follow-up to the Disability Action Plan requires member states to provide the designated forum with relevant information on a regular basis.
The designated forum will ensure that the Committee of Ministers is regularly informed about the progress made in the implementation of the Disability Action Plan.