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Notes on the Busan Declaration

January 9, 2012

-Sherzodbek Sharipov

Government representatives, parliamentarians, civil society organizations and private sector representatives from over 80 countries took part in the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness (HLF-4) in Busan, Korea, from November 29 to December 1, 2011.  This is the latest in a series of gatherings  in Rome, Paris and Accra that have helped transform aid relationships between donors and partners into true vehicles for development cooperation.

Over 3,000 delegates met to review progress that has been made on implementing the principles of the Paris Declaration as well as global progress in improving the impact of development aid. Delegates also made new commitments to ensure that aid helps reduce poverty and to maintain focus on effectively meeting the Millennium Development Goals. The Forum culminated in the signing of the Busan Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation (Busan Declaration) by government officials.

The Government of the Republic of Korea, as the host of the forum, released a Political Statement to express its support for the new vision and commitments of the Busan Declaration.

Inclusion of people with disabilities and disability issues was not prominent in the meeting, but some voices were heard.  Disabled Peoples’ International’s Chair, Javed Abidi, was present at the meeting and lamented that the High Level Forum was “such an important occasion! There were over 300 civil society organizations, lobbying for their respective causes but practically none from the world wide disability movement!”  The Busan Declaration only specifically mentions disability once, however during the forum, representatives of USAID, Disabled Persons’ International (DPI) and the International Disability Alliance (IDA) participated in various panel discussions and thematic sessions, highlighting the necessity of disability-specific issues including inclusive development, international cooperation, and civil society partnerships.

During a USAID side-event on Aid Effectiveness Principles for Disability Inclusive Development, William Rowland from the World Blind Union, representing IDA in the forum, argued that persons with disabilities remain invisible in international development assistance monitoring instruments.  He cited the Millennium Development Goals or OECD-DAC tracking tools as notably lacking disability focus.  He also said that the disability community wants to emphasize that democratic ownership of international cooperation is not only about states and governments.  Persons with disabilities must be involved as well, following the slogan “nothing about us without us.” A key element of his message was the obligation of donors and partners to include persons with disabilities and their representatives in the design and implementation of all policies and programs.

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