Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia)
7th-8th October 2005
A permanent office for the WBU
The opening of a permanent or central World Blind Union office, to be named "The Office of the WBU", was the main issue on the AGENDA at the meeting of the WBU Officers Board held in Kuala Lumpur.
The Working Group chaired by Enrique Pérez in charge of setting up a permanent WBU Office has established the crit- eria the new headquarters must meet. In the words of the Secretary General, these include “Accessibility to the world, in that it must be
well located, the banking practises in place, political sta- bility, the local tax regime, salaries and, above all, the government of the country in question must have a proven track record of non-discrimination for reasons of disability and gender.”
Serafin Lizoain, blind and multi-talented
Sport is a marvellous tool for integration and overcoming disability”.
Gloria Rodríguez Figueroa. Fashion fot the blind.
T he pasarela Gaudí Fashion week, held annually in Barcelona (Spain), had a surprise in store at its 2005 Edition: a show titled ”Unseeing eyes”.
European Union co-operation policy
Recent and future enlargement, bringing new Member States into the picture, will have a direct impact on this area of external activities.
PAGES 2 EDITORIAL
A great step forward
Setting up the World Blind Union’s permanent office, due to begin operations at the beginning of 2007, was the major item on the agenda at the last meeting of the WBU Officers Board, held on this occasion in Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) on the 7th and 8th of October. The Working Group in charge of the office met in London (United Kingdom) on the 16th of November to decide exactly what will be needed at the future office. The WBU has been looking forward to having just such an office; it will bring more stability to the organisation and lighten the administrative and bureaucratic burden currently placed on the offices of the Treasurer and Secretary General. The office should also be a reference point for WBU communications and representation. For all of these reasons the future permanent headquarters will play a key role in the Union’s future development and consolidation.
Making the permanent office a reality is just one of the aims that the new Officers Board has set itself, based on the discussions at the last WBU General Assembly in Cape Town (South Africa) last year. We can be happy that little by little the goals laid down are being fulfilled. With three years to look forward to, the WBU has a number of key tasks to perform, and while 2008 seems such a long way away time is always of the essence; the good news about the opening of the Permanent Office is but one part of the
tireless work being done by the youthful new Officers Board, a Board that will have to continue working hard to complete its programme of activities.
PAGES 3 - 5 - CURRENT EVENTS
WBU Officers Board meeting, Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), 7th-8th October 2005 A permanent office for the WBU
The opening of a permanent or central World Blind Union office, to be named "The Office of the WBU", was the main issue on the table at the meeting of the WBU Officers Board held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on the 7th and 8th of October. Also on the agenda were reports from the President, William Rowland, from other officeholders and from the Union’s committees and working groups. Secretary General Enrique Pérez updated the board on the issue of the Strategic Communications Plan that is currently being prepared in co-operation with the ONCE Communication Department and that will be submitted to the next meeting of the Officers in six months’ time.
The Working Group chaired by Enrique Pérez in charge of setting up a permanent WBU Office met in London (United Kingdom) on the 16th of November to analyse the roll-out of the office, due to be up and running by 2007, and establish the criteria the new headquarters must meet, which, in the words of the Secretary General, include "Accessibility to the world, in that it must be well located, the banking practises in place, political stability, the local tax regime, salaries and, above all, the government of the country in question must have a proven track record of non-discrimination for reasons of disability and gender."
The Officers Board, at its next meeting in Baltimore (USA) in March 2006, will be informed of the results of the London gathering.
The Board considered the two bids received to date to host the next WBU General Assembly in 2008. Pattaya (Thailand) and Geneva (Switzerland) are the two cities that, for the moment, are in the running to organise the assembly. The Officers Board gave initial approval to both bids as they met all the conditions laid down.
The Officers Board reached the following agreements during its working sessions in Malaysia:
1 "Vision Australia" has donated 45 000 Australian dollars to the WBU in order to set up a Central Office. The monies shall be deposited in an Australian bank account under the control of the 1st Vice-President until the project is concluded, upon which they will be transferred to the WBU accounts.
2 Maryanne Diamond, the WBU Office project co-ordinator, contacted the Executive Committee to ask members to forward ideas and suggestions by the 1st of November to move this project forward. On the 16th of November the Chair of the Permanent Office Working Group, Enrique Pérez, will meet Maryanne Diamond, Susan Spungin and Colin Low in London to discuss which administrative tasks currently carried out by the Secretary General and the Treasurer are to be transferred to the WBU Office. A final proposal shall be submitted to the Executive Committee in March.
3 The official name of the WBU central headquarters shall be "The Office of the WBU.
4 The Secretary General shall contact national delegates requesting that they name one representative from their national delegation to be the contact person in charge of
updating the delegation list for the country in question and forwarding it to the Secretary General in a timely manner. Regional Presidents shall be sent a copy of this communication. The master list shall be updated every six months.
5 The Finance and Nominations Committees do not need to make use of the 5 000 US dollars earmarked for each in the annual budget. It was agreed the surplus 10 000 dollars shall be used to fund the work of other committees and the UN Working Group.
6 Work on the WBU leaflet is ongoing. Once finalised, it shall be posted on the Union’s web site and a link to it shall be placed on the home page.
7 A Working Group composed of William Rowland, Maryanne Diamond and Penny Hartin shall contact the countries that have bid to host the 7th WBU General Assembly with a view to finalising procedures. A final recommendation shall be submitted to the Executive Committee at its meeting next March.
8 The Governance and Democracy Working Group shall draw up a "WBU Procedures Handbook" for the Executive Committee meeting in March.
9A group composed of William Rowland, Penny Hartin, Aubrey Webson and Arnt Holte shall draft "WBU Guidelines on Development" by the 31st of December 2005.
10 New members on Committees and Working Groups: Chuji Sashida shall replace Graeme Innes as Chair of the Working Group on Legislation; Birgitta Blokland shall replace Maryanne Diamond on the Editorial Working Group; the ABU representative on the Committee on Children shall be Dr. Anil Aneja; Kicki Nordström shall be Link Person for the indigenous affairs network.
The Secretary General shall contact those concerned to inform them officially.
11 On behalf of the WBU, the Secretary General shall respond to the Nordic Co-operation Committee as regards the issue concerning IBSA they have raised.
12 The Treasurer shall make the changes necessary to the Union’s budgets to take into account the possibility of covering the cost of guides accompanying members from developing countries travelling to meetings of the Officers Board and the Executive Committee.
13 William Rowland, Maryanne Diamond and Colin Low shall form a group to draft WBU guidelines on the granting of medals and other honorary awards.
14 Future meetings: the dates for future meetings were agreed as follows:
Executive Committee: Baltimore (USA), 24th-25th March 2005.
Officers Board: Caracas (Venezuela), 6th-7th October 2006.
Who’s who in the new world blind union executive committee (cont.)
EAST ASIA PACIFIC
Secretary-General of the International Committee of Japan Federation of the Blind
c/o NCWBJ Office 9-23, Takadanobaba 1- chome, Shinjyuku-ku
Tel. 81 3 5291 7885
Fax. 81 3 5291 7886
E-mail: email@example.com Or: firstname.lastname@example.org
Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind
Private Bag 99941
4, Mansell Road
Tel.: 64 9 355 68 73
Fax.:64 9 366 00 99
Mobile: 64 275 317 092 E-mail: email@example.com
President of All Russia Association of the Blind (VOS)
14, Novaya Plochad
Tel: (7095) 923 61 60 Fax: (7095) 923 91 49 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
NORTH AMERICA/CARIBBEAN Marc MAURER
WBU Regional Vice-President President, National Federation of the Blind (NFB)
1800 Johnson Street
Tel: (1-410) 659 9314
Fax: (1-410) 685-5653
President and C.E.O.
The Canadian National Institute for the Blind
1929 Bayview Avenue
Ontario M4G 3E8
Tel: (1-416) 486-2500
Fax: (1-416) 480-7000
REPRESENTATIVE OF THE INTERNATIONAL MEMBERS
Sight Savers International
Grosvenor Hall, Bolnore Road
Haywards Heath, West Sussex RH16 4BX
Tel: (44-1444) 446 600 - 446 663 (direct)
Fax: (44-1444) 446 677
c/o Overbrook International Program (Overbrook School for the Blind) 6333 Malvern Avenue
PA 19151-2597. USA
ICEVI - 12th World Conference
The dates for your diaries are the 16th to the 21st of July 2006 in Kuala Lumpur. The Malaysian Association for the Blind will host the 12th ICEVI (International Council for the Education of People with Visual Impairment) World Conference, focusing on the theme "Achieving Equality in Education: New Challenges and Strategies for Change". The Conference will be held in the Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC), Kuala Lumpur’s principal conference centre, and will include four plenary sessions in which experts from NGOs, governments and other organisations will take part.
The programme also includes six parallel sessions involving educators from different parts of the world, and one session in which 15 different themes will be discussed in 15 workshops.
The official language of the 12th ICEVI World Conference is English. However, all plenary sessions and selected parallel sessions will have simultan-eous translation in Chinese, Japanese, Spanish and English.
Baltimore, March 2006
Key Executive Committee gathering
The next meeting of the WBU Executive Committee, scheduled to be held in Baltimore (USA) on the 24th and 25th of March 2006, will be a key meeting for the future of the WBU’s permanent headquarters, to be known as "The Office of the WBU".
Meetings of many of the Union’s committees (Children’s Committee, Employment Committee, etc.) and Working Groups (WBU Braille Council, etc.) will also be taking place in Baltimore around these dates.
Social Network now a reality
Foal, the ONCE Foundation for Latin America, Internet portal Universia and the Santander Group made the Red Social (Social Network) Project a reality on the 13th of October. The aims of the project are to facilitate access to information and Internet content for blind and partially sighted people in Latin America and promote their integration in the labour market through on-line training and vocational training courses both of a general nature - such as Teamwork and Management Skills - and in specialist subjects in computing such as Advanced Internet.
Co-financed by the European Union’s @LIS programme (Alliance for the Information
Society), Red Social will ensure the supply of screen readers and magnifiers to every person with a visual impairment who can prove they are visually impaired and who registers as a user on the project’s virtual platform.
For more information: www.foal.once.org
PAGES 6 – OPINION 6th Ad Hoc Committee meeting
Ongoing discussions making progress
The purpose of the meeting was to finalize the second reading of the second part of the Convention text drawn up by the ad hoc committee. the main aim of the meeting was to decide upon key points in the convention without going into detailed discussions on the wording, as this will be dealt with at upcoming meetings when the actual drafting process will take place.
Some articles were uncontroversial and did not cause too much discussion or disagreement but some others were indeed.
Many delegations agreed on the need to specifically mention Women and Children, but there were different views on how this should be done.
Articles such as education, health, rehabilitation and living independently and being included in the community were discussed at length and were highly controversial. To our disappointment, the EU and some other western states, took the stand against a separate article on women, children, indigenous persons with disabilities and disagreed on having a specific article on international development cooperation. Although it was
mainly a discussion if this should be mentioned in the preamble or in articles of their own. The Preamble is not a legally binding part of the convention.
All along the AHC process there have been divergent ideas on Education. There have been hot discussions about this matter in the IDC. Organizations such as WBU, WFD (World Federation of the Deaf) and WFDB (World Federation of the deafblind), have been strongly opposing the concept of Inclusive Education as it is today interpreted. WBU, WFD and WFDB strongly argue that there are special communication skills and needs, which must be taught in classes and settings of our own, in order to gain communication and literacy skills. Braille and sign language, as direct communicational skills, and mobility, ADL and other compensatory skills are not part of unordinary school curriculum, but must be compulsory in education of persons with sensory disabilities.
WBU together with WFD and WFDB have been very specific on this and many times we have met hard opposition from other DPO’s (Disabled Persons Organizations) and of course by national delegations. The EU delegation also opposed the mentioning of Braille in the convention and some national delegations thought that Braille was a language or something which is not needed in 50 years from now since new technology would replace the need for Braille! It took us several interventions to explain that Braille is a script like any other scripts in existence and only the future can tell if the interventions have been understood.
On the article on accessibility the WBU advocated strongly for Universal design, cooperation regarding development of standards and guidelines. There is still however no consensus on the critical issue of copyright. A more generous legislation on copyright would make the conversion of documents into accessible formats beneficial for all blind and partially sighted persons, but it is a difficult matter to solve as authors fear that this would open up for limitless pirate copying of their products. Health and rehabilitation met resistance to some of its writings in particular from the Holy See, many Middle East and Latin American Countries, who objected to the proposed text regarding the right to sexual and reproductive health services and there were objections whether to support a separation of rehabilitation from health. There was expressed from many delegates, the need of an effective monitoring of the convention. Unless there are methods for sanction to States who decline to protect its citizens with disabilities the whole process will be very counter-productive. The next AHC meeting will take place in January 2006 and hopefully by then more definite texts of the first 15 articles will be agreed upon.
By: Kicki Nordström,
Immediate Past President WBU
PAGES 7 - 8 REPORT
European Union Co-operation policy
Co-operation is a key element in the European Union’s external relations. Recent and
future enlargement, bringing new Member States into the picture, will have a direct impact on this area of external activities.
The process of drawing up the EU’s co-operation policy will be affected both by the
economic contribution provided by new Member Status and their participation in the decision-making process and programme implementation phase.
The European Union prepared a document to review the approach taken at national level by candidate countries with regards to development and co-operation, and to
analyse how new Member States can take part in all aspects of co-operation in development having joined the Union, with the aim of ensuring co-ordination between the European Union and the policies undertaken by new Member States.
Disabled people make up approximately 10 per cent of any population (WHO) and 20 per cent of the world’s poorest (World Bank). Disability is both a cause and effect of poverty, and 82 per cent of disabled people live below the poverty line in developing countries (UN). These figures can be higher in countries devastated by civil war or natural disaster. Disabled people, in all parts of the world, experience discrimination and are widely excluded from the social, economic and political life of the community. This exclusion is the basic cause of high rates of poverty among disabled people in the poorest countries. Being amongst the most excluded has severe life or death implications for disabled people in developing countries.
Basic guidelines for co-operation
The main aim of the Union’s co-operation policy is to reduce poverty with a view to
eventually eradicating it.
The Community will concentrate on six areas which have been identified on the basis of the added value of EU action and of their contribution to poverty reduction:
The link between trade and development.
Regional integration and co-operation.
Support for macro-economic policies and the promotion of equitable access to social services.
Food security and sustainable rural development.
Institutional capacity building.
Attention will consistently be given to human rights, to the environmental dimension, to equality between men and women and to good governance. The Union's development policy concerns all developing countries.
As regards the allocation of resources, the least developed countries and low-income countries will be given priority, in an approach which will take account of their efforts to reduce poverty, their needs, their performance and their capacity to absorb aid. The European Union is committed to poverty reduction as expressed in the Millennium Development Goals. This goal cannot be met without considering the needs of disabled people; yet disabled people are still not sufficiently included in international development work funded by the EU. If the interests of disabled people are not recognised then the key goal of poverty reduction in developing countries will not be achieved.
Programmes and Projects
The Commission formally set up the EuropeAid Co-operation Office on 1st January 2001 as part of its efforts to reform the management of external aid. EuropeAid ensures that Community aid is implemented effectively and handles the devolution to Commission Delegations of all operations which can be better man-aged locally, and the decentralisation to bene- ficiary countries. In addition, EuropeAid fosters a culture based on individual and collective responsibility. EU external aid is given by means of either contracts to provide services, supplies or works to beneficiary countries or grants (generally for projects proposed by non-profit making organisations).
This aid is usually provided under one of the EC external aid programmes and in- struments (Phare, Ispa and Sapard for candidate countries, Tacis for the New Independent States and Mongolia, Cards for Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the FYROM, ALA for Asian and Latin American countries, MEDA for the Mediterranean partners and the EDF for the African, Caribbean and Pacific countries) or under specific budget headings, such as for South Africa.
Two budget lines
The "NGO Co-financing" unit - EUROPEAID / F2 - is in charge of management of two budget lines:
One of these budget lines covers two types of financing:
aDevelopment Actions favouring developing countries. This funding is accessible only to NGOs from EU countries.
bActions to raise European public awareness of development issues.
The other budget line covers decentralised co-operation, with actions aimed at strengthening civil society in the South. Funding is accessible to "Non State Actors (NSA)" from the South, as well as NSA from the North.
The grants currently managed by the EuropeAid Co-operation Office are the following: @LIS - Alliance for the Information Society -
Action against Antipersonnel Landmines
Aid for population policies and programmes in the developing countries - http://europa.eu.int/comm/secretariat_general/sgc/aides/forms/aidco14_en.htm
Aid to uprooted people in Asian and Latin American developing countries http://europa.eu.int/comm/secretariat_general/sgc/aides/forms/aidco12_en.htm
Asia information & communication technology (Asia-IT&C)
CARDS - Community Assistance for Reconstruction, Development and Stabilisation http://europa.eu.int/comm/secretariat_general/sgc/aides/forms/aidco24_en.htm
Co-financing with NGOs
EU-Asia Pro Eco
European Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights
Fight against illnesses due to poverty (HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis) in developing countries
Food aid and food security
Integration of gender issues in development co-operation
Programme of high-level study awards - Latin America