In the 1980s, a revolution took place in the lives of millions of people with disabilities across the world when they decided that they themselves will take decisions affecting their lives and thereby rejecting the hold that parents and professionals had on the disability sector and its policy and decision making until then. And thus was born the slogan 'Nothing About Us, Without Us'.
The 80s and the 90s saw a gradual rise in the organisations of people with disabilities, self-advocates who were the front-runners in all the discussions surrounding disability issues. Professionals, parents and NGOs had no choice but to take a back seat. Up until the passage of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).
In my previous blog, I had argued that CRPD is not the gospel that has suddenly dropped down from the heavens. But even then, we do see a spurt of ‘CRPD professionals’ who are now omnipresent. Their mandate is to ‘train’ people with disabilities on implementing CRPD. Never mind the fact that people with disabilities can actually teach them a thing or two about disability and about the rights of people with disabilities!
At all such trainings you will see academics and professionals who have made CRPD their new business. And it is this bunch of so-called CRPD experts who are turning the dynamics of the disability world upside down, taking people with disabilities back to the pre-80s era where we were mere bystanders.
Earlier, we were recipients of charity. Now, we are recipients of charity and their pearls of wisdom. But recipients we were and recipients we are!
This new found exodus of energy and efforts towards Geneva and New York is a direct result of these changes in the dynamics of world’s disability politics. Keeping the focus on New York and Geneva means that these CRPD professionals will decide the agenda, while national, regional, and local issues get relegated to the backburner.
What is very unfortunate is that, this ploy seems to be working. All the money and resources are now being pumped towards work of such CRPD professionals while poor DPOs and people with disabilities are left high and dry. In fact, money to DPOs is now being routed via these professionals. They control the flow of money and thus they control the agenda of the disabled community.
This is imperialism of yet another kind. And the slogan ‘Nothing About Us, Without Us’ remains just that, a slogan. The average, mostly poor people with disabilities are left wondering as to when they let someone enter their life to play God, once again.
Note: This article was published as a blog on the Disability Rights Knowledge Network, hosted by the Commonwealth Connects Portal