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Statement by Estonia at the 10th Session of the Conference of the State Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

13.06.2017

10th Session of the Conference of the State Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

General Debate “The Second Decade of the CRPD: Inclusion and full participation of persons with disabilities and their representative organizations in the implementation of the Convention” on 13 June 2017

Statement by Estonia

Mr. President, Distinguished delegates

A lot of progress has been made since the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities just over a decade ago. However, it is time to ask ourselves – have we included and involved the people most affected by the Convention in truly effective and fulfilling ways? Have we made their full participation possible and welcoming?

Estonia recognizes the importance of full participation of organizations representing people with disabilities in the implementation of the Convention and related national policies. Surely, it is our citizens with disabilities who face the tangible challenges in their everyday lives that have the most relevant experience, insight and knowledge of what needs to be done to improve their lives. Their perspectives and views on disability related issues provide valuable input for developing necessary services and policies and they must not be ignored.

Since the ratification of the Convention in 2012, consultations between Estonian governmental and non-governmental organizations on the implementation of the Convention have been held on an ongoing basis. The Estonian Government and the representative organisations of disabled people signed a Memorandum of Cooperation Principles and formed a consultative Cooperation Assembly to mainstream disability issues and coordinate activities to ensure the protection of the rights of our citizens with disabilities. Furthermore, an accessibility council was created to find solutions to the problems of accessibility and to promote the implementation of the universal design.  
Organizations representing people with disabilities have been actively involved in the preparation of various policies and strategies. Important examples include the Estonian Lifelong Learning Strategy 2020 which promotes the implementation of inclusive education; and the Welfare Development Plan 2016-2023, which lays out the strategic objectives of the labour market, social protection, gender equality and equal treatment policies. 

Like many states, Estonia can certainly improve its achievements. Currently we are in the process of appointing the Independent Monitoring Mechanism for the promotion, protection and monitoring of the Convention which will come into operation in 2018. We do acknowledge that we are still learning how to work in more considerate, sensitive and trustworthy ways with our partners from affected communities.

Estonia is passionate about the use of technology to empower civil society. We believe that use of technology can make a significant difference in the lives of our citizens with disabilities. Many websites of Estonian authorities have been designed and built in a way to meet the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 accessibility criteria in order to help to access their content in an easy manner. Our aim is to meet the same accessibility criteria for all public sector websites. Estonia looks forward to seeing more technological advances to support our goals to empower our citizens with disabilities through assistive technologies and e-inclusion. However, it is important to include the affected citizens in the design and testing of ICT systems and services, as they are the people who can validate if the solutions will meet their needs.

Mr. President

Estonia remains committed to the goals and objectives of the Convention, especially to achieve greater and more influential roles for our citizens with disabilities in the elaboration and implementation of policies regarding disability issues.  
Thank you.   

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