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International efforts: the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

On August 25th 2006, the draft of a new convention on human rights for disabled people was finalized. A group of experts was assigned by the UN Ad Hoc committee to draft the convention on the rights of persons with disabilities and was backed by the UN General Assembly in its resolution 58/246 of 23 December 2003. Recognizing the extensive experience that Lebanon has in assisting people with disabilities, Lebanon was chosen as the representative of the Arabic state parties in the group of experts. This was the first human rights convention adopted in the 21st Century, with the hope that it will contribute to improve living conditions for the 650 million disabled people around the world to date. The clauses of the convention are to be adapted into laws and policies in the constitution of the state members to this UN Convention according to the articles.

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Regional efforts: The Arabic League and the Decade 

initiative for PWD
Due to the rise of disability in the Arab World, a need was identified for a joint effort to promote preventive policies, rehabilitation services and the rights of disabled people throughout the region. Following the International Conference on Disability in the Arab World 2002, held in Beirut, the Arab League adopted the initiative of the Arab Decade for Persons with Disabilities, in an attempt to scale up Arab initiatives to the international level with regard to policies targeting the persons with disabilities. The Arab Decade for Persons with Disabilities initiative sought to raise awareness regarding the situation of disabled people in the Arab countries. It was a crucial element to the development of policies targeting equal opportunities for disabled persons in accessing health, education and other services.

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The Lebanese context: advocating the rights of People with Disabilities

arcenciel, a non-profit organization working in the field of sustainable development, has twenty five years of experience in the field of disability and rehabilitation and has extensively catered to the needs of Lebanese disabled people.
In 1994, and in collaboration with the Ministry of Social affairs (MSA), arcenciel developed  "Rights and Access", the first national program for the disabled in Lebanon- currently an integral part of MS “Rights and Access” reshaped the relationship between the society and disabled people, changing it from one based on charity to one based on rights.
The program is based in 7 administrative centers of MSA all over Lebanon, and runs with a dedicated staff of 70 employees, a national committee of disabled including representatives from the government, various non-governmental organizations (NGOs), disabled people organizations (DPOs) and individuals with disabilities. Until this date, 72000 disabled persons are registered and receive services through this program.

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The concept of North-South-South cooperation: arcenciel and the transfer of its know-how

Strong with the success of the program “Rights and Access”-the first pilot experience in the region- arcenciel decided, in 2006, to expand and transmit its knowledge to other neighboring countries.
The association developed the North-South-South model for cooperation, whereby northern donors liaise with an experienced NGO from a southern country through which they channel the knowledge and expertise of northern partners to neighbouring southern countries. On the other hand, the local NGO would share its own experience and know-how to neighboring countries, will be responsible for ensuring the success of the knowledge exchange and will mitigate issues arising from simultaneous coordination with several local NGOs.

Project Convenio I (2006-2010)

The idea of transfer of knowledge and know-how found a strong support among northern proponents. Consequently, in 2006 the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) and the Social Promotion of the Culture Foundation (FPSC) financed the first Convenio, entitled "Improvement of assistance to disabled people through development of infrastructure, community services and training programs in Lebanon, Jordan, Syria and Egypt". 

Convenio I contributed to: 
  • Building centers for manufacturing, repairing and distributing of technical services 
  • Training staff in the participating countries 
  • Assisting more than 3000 disabled individuals and distributed over 5000 services in all 4 countries 

Project Convenio II (2010-2013)

Following the success of the first Convenio, a second phase of the project was initiated at the end of 2010. This phase places special emphasis on the adaptation of public and private spaces in order to enhance the autonomy of people with disabilities and subsequently favour their social integration.
Convenio II also highlights the importance of enhanced communication to ensure constant transfer of knowledge and know-how between the four partners.

The intranet platform: documenting the progress of Convenio II

The current portal is designed to inform on the national laws and regulations regarding disabled people in partnering countries as well as the advancements and experiences of local partners during the implementation of convenio II.  
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