Message from Henry Enns, Foundator of DPI
Disabled Peoples' lnternational (DPI) is the first successful effort of persons with disabilities to create an internationally united voice.
During a world congress of Rehabilitation International in Winnipeg, Canada, on June 23, 1980, 250 persons with a wide variety of disabilities from 40 countries unanimously agreed on the need for a world coalition of persons with disabilities. An Ad Hoc Planning Committee was established to discuss the philosophy, organization and structure for a world organization. The Committee included representatives from both developed and developing countries. On June 25, the Committee presented its findings and struck a Steering Committee with two representatives each from seven regions of the world. A year later, at its first World Congress in Singapore, Disabled Peoples' International was officially established.
A major goal of DPI is the full participation of all persons with disabilities in the mainstream of life, particularly those in developing countries who form the vast majority of the world's 650 million persons with disabilities. DPI recognizes that poverty not only leads to disability, but also allows few concessions for the needs and aspirations of persons with disabilities. ln many rural areas, where up to 80 per cent of the general population live, services are rare. Persons with disabilities are often excluded and discriminated against. Though DPI's goal of full participation is admittedly a goal of enormous proportions, it is one that has already been proven possible.
Through its self-help development programs and projects worldwide, DPI has sought and achieved a considerable increase in the participation of persons with disabilities in their own social and economic development, as well as in that of their home countries. Today, the DPI cross-disability network has 135 national members, over half of whom are in developing nations. Any organization controlled by persons with disabilities can be a member of the national assembly of that country.
DPI ensures equal representation of its members through a decentralized regional structure, which also facilitates leadership and strategy development at the local level. Through DPl, the voice of persons with disabilities everywhere has already made a significant impact, not only as regards disability concerns, but also issues of justice, human rights, peace and international development.
At the Centre of the name "Disabled Peoples' International" is the word people. In fact, people are the centre of all activities that DPI undertakes. The yardstick for success is increasing opportunities for education, training and employment, as well as the adoption of legislation and policies in favour of persons with disabilities. DPI's success will only be complete when women and men with disabilities enjoy the equal rights and opportunities of their fellow citizens.
DPI's motto is "A voice of our own". DPI believes that persons with disabilities should participate directly in dialogue and decision-making processes that affect the lives of persons with disabilities. DPI leaders have lobbied for the support of nearly all the major government development agencies, and have had regular meetings with leading United Nations (UN) officials, including the Secretaries- General and the High Commissioners for Human Rights. DPI has also worked with the World Banks and other multinational aid and development agencies.
The following are some highlights of DPI's achievements since 1980. These successes are replicated and built upon on a daily basis by the continuing work of DPI regions. 1980s
o Peace March in Tokyo
o Obtained ECOSOC consultative status with the UN in 1981 and began work on the UN World Programme of Action
o Fought and won a case challenging Japanese legislation which required only one doctor to incarcerate a person with mental health issues
o Became the first disability international non-governmental organization (INGO) to adopt a policy on the equal representation of women with disabilities in its organization
o Urged the Commission for Social Development to appoint a Special Rapporteur on Disability
o Took a leading role both regionally and internationally in the midterm evaluation of the Decade of Disabled Persons, which led to the development of the "UN Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities." DPI was also very involved in the formulation of the Standard Rules themselves. 1990s
o Worked with the World Health Organization on revision of the International Classification of lmpairments, Disabilities and Handicaps (lClDH) to become the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (lCF) and the adoption of the social model of disability at that level
o Was the subject of a book by Diane Driedger, The Lasf Civil Rights Movemenf, published by Hurst & Company and St. Martin's Press (1989) o Took a leading role in "lndependence '92:'Vancouver, and the start of the initiative to form an Amnesty International" model of data collection on disability and human rights violations. DPI funded the initial research and the initiative was then passed to DPI-Europe who, after further research and legal consultation, supported the setting up of the Violations Database and the creation of a new organization called Disability Awareness in Action (DAA).
o Was the first disability INGO to officially call itself a human rights organization and to be an active member of the Panel of Experts to the Special Rapporteur on Disability (and at that time was the only INGO to provide representation only from the developing world)
o Took a leading role in the Asia-Pacific Decade of Disabled People and the African Decade of Disabled People
o A key player in the formulation of an Inter-American Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities
o Provided substantive input into many of the UN Summits, including for example the Social Development, Earth, Women (both Nairobi and Beijing), and Human Rights and Habitat summits
o Was instrumental in the development of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, including as a member of the Working Group that produced the draft text that became the basis for negotiations
o Organized a World Assembly in Sapporo, Japan, that brought almost 4,000 delegates from more than 100 countries
o Organized a World Summit in Winnipeg, Canada, that brought almost 2,000 delegates from around the world
o Developed partnerships with disability research centres around the world on employment, health, education and economy
o Encouraged the establishment of the Organization of the Americas' (OAS) Decade of Disabled Persons, the African Decade on Disability, and the second Asia Pacific Decade on Disability.
o With the goal of sharing knowledge and experiences, organized and supported regional capacity building initiatives involving grassroots leaders, government officials and international NGOs
o Promoted the participation of leaders with dlsabilities in the political life of their countries DPI Headquarters is located in Winnipeg, Canada, with Regional Development Offices in Peru, Antigua, ltaly, Thailand and Mauritania. DPI funds a Regional Development Officer (RDO) in each of these sites whose role it is to liaise among DPI member organizations in their respective regions and co-ordinate essential activities identified by members.