Disability and Emergencies in Focus in Haiti One Year After the Earthquake

Chairwoman Hautala addressed on 11.1. the launch of the photo exhibition “Disability and Emergencies” focusing on the situation of people with disabilities in Haiti after the 12.1.2010 earthquake.[:]

Chairwoman Hautala stated in her opening remarks that she was most honoured to have been invited to speak to the event by the CBM, as the Subcommittee on Human Rights has a long standing cooperation with the organisation. She was pleased to note that the CBM had again raised a very important issue, Disability and Emergencies;

“While natural disasters and other emergencies have continued to disturb life of societies at a large scale also during last year, the earthquake in Haiti remains one of the most disturbing.”


It is most welcome, that light is being shed on Haiti. Tomorrow, exactly one year after the earthquake struck, on January 12, 2010, it is time to take critical look at how those more able succeeded in helping those in dire need, she added.

To continue, she emphasised that during time of great upheaval it is most important to ensure the safety and security of all, those who can look after and protect themselves and those who need looking after and protection.

In her speech Ms Hautala also emphasised that it is indeed vital, that careful work is done as early on as possible to fight discrimination on grounds of sex, sexuality, religion, ethnicity or disability. Should an unsteady time come, as it did in Haiti, there will be no group of people left outside aid and care.


Indeed, in the event it was noted that the EU has just taken a major step in ensuring that the rights of all groups be respected. Following formal ratification on 23rd of December, for the first time in history the EU has become a party to an international human rights treaty – the United Nation’s (UN) Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities.

The Convention aims to ensure that people with disabilities can enjoy their rights on an equal basis with all other citizens. The Convention sets out minimum standards for protecting and safeguarding a full range of civil, political, social, and economic rights for people with disabilities. In this line, Chairwoman Hautala stressed that by making sure that all fundamental rights are guaranteed to all people, we have ensured that come the bad time, access to aid, care, information and services is guaranteed as it is in the good time.

Chairwoman Hautala has raised the issue of ratification of the UN Convention in the Subcommittee on Human Rights on several occasions, last time in the meeting ot 10.1.2011, and she remains committed to continuing to do so.

However, it must be remembered that while we can welcome the ratification we still have a lot of work to do. Parliament has increasingly important role in the Post-Lisbon life of the EU. Main task of the Subcommittee is to hold the member states accountable for their human rights track record.


Subcommittee thus remains strongly committed to keep a close look and tight pressure now on the implementation of the Convention. In this, however, it will need the invaluable collaboration of the civil society.

 Ratification is not the main goal to be achieved; this is where the real work begins.