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The Danish experience on focal points and coordination mechanisms one year on By Karin Ingemann
The governments aim: A society where disabled persons can participate in the society – on equal terms with everybody else. Important tools: • The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities • The Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for persons with Disabilities • B 43 on equal opportunities and equal treatment • Local self-government
Disability policy in Denmark • The principle of equal opportunities: Conditions in society must be changed and adapted, so that disabled people may move about and participate actively in community life on equal terms with non-disabled people. • The principle of solidarity: Since 1993, the principle of equal opportunities and equal treatment of disabled people has remained a pivotal element of disability policy, with the overall objective of creating “one society for all”.Everybody shares the responsibility of ensuring that the individual disabled person has access to the necessary services, when the need arises and services are widely financed by the state from tax income. The principle of solidarity is a key element of Denmark’s disability policy. • The principle of sector accountability: The public authority offering an activity, a service or a product will also be responsible for making the service accessible to people with reduced functional capacity. In this way, activities targeted at disabled people are no longer primarily a task for the social sector. Responsibility spreads to other areas such as housing, transport, labour market, training and education and the health sector. • Principle of compensation: A person with reduced functional capacity will to the widest possible extent be compensated for the consequences of the reduced capacity. Such compensation may be given by making society’s offers accessible for people with reduced functional capacity. Another option is to make special services available, thus specifically meeting the individual’s needs. The approach in the Act on Social Services calls for specific services to be made available or for compensation for significant extra expenses incurred as a result of the reduced functional capacity.
What does the Convention require of the parties to ensure its implemenation and monitoring?
Art. 33 obliges the parties to: • designate one or more focal points • maintain, strengthen, designate or establish a framework, including one or more independent mechanisms (as appropriate) • to promote, protect and monitor its implementation.
Art. 33 art. 33,1 art. 33,2 art. 33,3
The danish solution • Art. 33, 1 The Ministry of Social Affairs (Focal point) and The inter-ministerial committee of civil servants on disability matters • Art. 33, 2 The Danish Institute of Human Rights • Art. 33, 3 Civil Society
The reasoning behind the danish solution on art. 33, 1.
The national focal point • The Ministry of Social Affairs was appointed as the national focal point for matters related to implementing the Convention. Why?
The reason for the appointment was that the Ministry of Social Affairs already was the coordinating ministry for disability matters. How?
Parliamentary decision B 194 The appointment of the Ministry of Social Affairs as the national focal point was made by parliamentary decision B 194, which adopted the ratification of the convention. As the coordinating ministry for disability matters, the Ministry exercises its function as the national focal point in close contact and coordination with the other parts of the government and organisations in the disability area.
Coordination mechanism • It was decided to set up an inter-ministerial committee of civil servants on disability matters Why?
The reason for setting up an inter-ministerial committee of civil servants was that this was deamed the best way to ensure coordination between sectors. Inter-ministerial committees is a known tool and have been used in a number of cases: • Interpretation for the hearing impaired • Ratification of UN Convention • Commission proposal for a anti-discrimation directive
”Job description” • To support and coordinate a sustainable disability policies that reflect government priorities. • To support and coordinate a sustainable disability policy based on a clear sectoral responsibilities, including the gray areas between sectors identified and addressed. • To assume the role of coordinating function of the central government to facilitate cross-cutting activities in different sectors and at different levels of implementation of the UN Disability Convention, see Disability Convention Article 33. 1. • Ensure coherence between the initiatives that the government launch of both general and specific nature. • Sharing knowledge about the individual ministries' tasks in order to increase awareness of when a problem affecting several sectors. • Solve ad hoc tasks for the government of disability
SETUP • All ministries are invited to participate in the committee. The ministry of Social Affairs chairs the committee and provides the secretariat. • The Committee meets 3 times a year or more if there is a need – e. g. the solution of concrete tasks. • Disability organizations will be involved in its work as needed.
The committees work • The committee has no ex officio competence. • Contributes to better coordination of efforts and initatives (as both The Public Accounts Committee and The Audit of State Accounts previously have identified a need for). • Functions as an entry point and creates contacts between sectors. • A forum to discuss ongoing and upcoming tasks.
Does it work? • Yes – but it takes time to implement! • Our sixth meeting are about to be held. • We can see a growing momentum and stronger support from all sectors. • The committee plays a still stronger role as an important forum for exchange of experiences and concrete problems. • It is a good idea to arrange the meetings around specific theme discussions.