15 July: The Addis Ababa Action Agenda agreed

Last evening governments agreed on the Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA), the outcome document of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development.

The Addis Ababa Action Agenda contains 6 explicit references to persons with disabilities and disability, 1 to “inclusive education”, 1 to “inclusive learning environment” and 2 to “accessible” technologies and infrastructures.

  •  Para 12 on “fiscally sustainable and nationally appropriate social protection systems and measures for all, including floors, with a focus on those furthest below the poverty line and the vulnerable, persons with disabilities, indigenous persons, children, youth and older persons.”
  • Para 14 on facilitating the “development of sustainable, accessible and resilient quality infrastructure in developing countries through enhanced financial and technical support”.
  • Para 16 on encouraging “the full and equal participation of women and men, including persons with disabilities, in the formal labour market.”
  • Para 78 on inclusive education: “…This will require reaching children living in extreme poverty, children with disabilities, migrant and refugee children, and those in conflict and post-conflict situations, and provide safe, non-violent, inclusive and effective learning environments for all. We will scale up investments and international cooperation to allow all children to complete free, equitable, inclusive and quality early childhood, primary and secondary education, including through scaling up and strengthening initiatives, such as the Global Partnership for Education. We commit to upgrading education facilities that are child, disability and gender sensitive and increasing the percentage of qualified teachers in developing countries, including through international cooperation, especially in least developed countries and small island developing States”.
  • Para 114 on “facilitating accessible technology for persons with disabilities”.
  • Para 126 on “high-quality, timely and reliable data disaggregated by sex, age, geography, income, race, ethnicity, migratory status, disability, and other characteristics relevant in national contexts”.

These are very important references and the disability movement is very grateful for the support received from Member States during the process. Persons with disabilities were invisible in the MDGs and IDA and IDDC worked hard to ensure explicit disability references both in the SDGs and in the FfD.

In addition to these disability-specific references, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda also includes a number of references to “inclusive” (e.g. “inclusive growth”, “inclusive societies”), a number of references to “access” (e.g. access to beneficial ownership information) and an additional one to “accessibility” of data (Para 128).

However it’s important to recognize that the Addis Ababa Action Agenda could have been far more ambitious in dealing with a number of challeging issues, as stated in the CSO Response (link will be added when available), including private finance (see my previous post on PPPs) and tax. The lack of concrete commitments in these areas is likely to have a negative impact on the poorest and marginalized people, including persons with disabilities.

In relation to tax, IDA and IDDC endorsed Eurodad’s position paper on FfD, which included a call for the establishment of an intergovernmental, transparent, accountable, adequately resourced tax body with universal membership, which leads global deliberations on international tax cooperation. Although tax is not enough in itself, it is the most reliable source of financing for public services and strengthens the social contract between the government and the people.

I interviewed Joseph Stiglitz, one of the speakers at this morning’s side event on tax and justice for social justice , after the event and he told me that “Tax is important for governments to address the rights of persons with disabilities, of those marginalized people who can’t get an education, and in general to address all the problems of development”. He continued: “This is why this is a key issue: to make persons with disabilities, women, children included in our societies we need funds and the main source that is not conditioned, not random, is tax revenues.”

Despite the fact that IDA and IDDC advocacy work hasn’t focused directly on tax, as part of the wider FfD CSO group we have been supporting the battle on this major issue, together with the one for strong safeguards.

In the CSO Declaration, finalized over the weekend (see my previous post), when there was still some hope, CSO emphasized again “Such a body will strengthen the ability of developing countries to generate significant sustainable financing for development through, for example, combating corporate tax dodging in developing countries and balancing the allocation of taxing rights between source and residence countries”.

Are governments going to be able to uphold their responsibilities of leaving no one behind?

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