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According to the World Report on Disability, it is estimated that more than a billion people, or about 15% of the world’s population, live with some form of disability. Evidence shows that compared to non-disabled people, persons with disabilities experience less legal protection, higher rates of poverty, lower educational achievements, poorer health outcomes and less political and cultural participation, amongst other things. Disability has been found to affect vulnerable populations in a disproportionate way, with a higher disability prevalence observed in lower income countries, people from the poorest wealth quintile, women, children and older people.
Acknowledging the widespread discrimination, exclusion and marginalization that persons with disabilities face globally, in 2006, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). The CRPD—which embodies a paradigm shift towards a human rights-based approach to disability—is very comprehensive in scope, covering at the same time civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights. As such, it represents a remarkably innovative human rights treaty and a development instrument with great potential to generate breakthroughs for persons with disabilities. However, at present, few countries have the capacity needed to ensure its full implementation.
Against this background—and building on the Convention’s explicit recognition of the importance of international cooperation— a number of United Nations entities have decided to join hands in the United Nations Partnership to Promote the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNPRPD).
The United Nations Partnership on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNPRPD) is a unique collaborative effort that brings together UN entities, governments, disabled people’s organizations and the broader civil society to advance disability rights around the world. The UNPRPD supports the full implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) by facilitating coalition-building and capacity-development at country, regional and global level. In doing so, it leverages the comparative advantage of multiple stakeholders to contribute to the realization of a “society for all” in the 21st century.
The UN entities participating in the UNPRPD are the International Labour Organization (ILO), the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the United Nations Department for Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO). The UNDP Poverty Practice serves as the Technical Secretariat for the Partnership. The UNPRPD also works closely with multiple civil society organizations including the International Disability Alliance (IDA) and the International Disability and Development Consortium (IDDC).
A UNPRPD Multi-Partner Trust Fund (referred to as UNPRPD Fund), starting on 8 June 2011 and ending on 31 May 2016, has been established to mobilize resources for the Partnership. The UNPRPD Multi-Donor Trust Fund is administered by the Multi-Partner Trust Fund Office (MPTF Office) of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in accordance with its financial regulations and rules.
The goal of the UNPRPD is to develop the capacities of national stakeholders, particularly governments and organizations of persons with disabilities, for the effective implementation of the CRPD, including through promoting disability-inclusive internationally agreed development goals.
In order to achieve this goal, the UNPRPD focuses on the following enabling factors:
In order to have a lasting impact on the advancement of the rights of persons with disabilities, the UNPRPD aims to contribute directly to the implementation of the CRPD at the national and local levels. Thus, the UNPRPD Fund will primarily support country-level joint programmes in which Participating UN Organizations collaborate around common capacity development goals. Country level programmes, however, will be supplemented by global and regional activities that also serve to strengthen the implementation of the CRPD at the country level.
The UNPRPD will pursue its objective of developing national capacity for the implementation of the CRPD through a twin-track approach involving targeted as well as mainstreaming interventions. Therefore, it will engage in two kinds of activities: i) interventions aimed at benefiting persons with disability directly by providing them and their organizations with relevant capabilities; and ii) interventions aimed at benefiting persons with disabilities indirectly by influencing the nature of broader systems with which persons with disabilities may be interacting in different capacities.
The overarching goal of the UNPRPD is based on a broad understanding of capacity. This understanding recognizes that capacity involves a multiplicity of assets—material such as human and financial resources as well as immaterial, such as knowledge, social capital and political clout. Furthermore, this understanding emphasizes that capacity is related not only to the skills possessed by individuals, but also to the organizational set-ups in which they function and to the normative, political and cultural contexts in which they are situated.
As the first global UN inter-agency initiative with a programmatic focus on the promotion and protection of the rights of persons with disabilities, the UNPRPD is characterized by four defining features:
The governance of the UNPRPD is based on two mechanisms.
The UNPRPD Policy Board, established as a high-level body, meets once a year to set the strategic direction of the Partnership and address the implications of major policy issues for its operations.
The UNPRPD Management Committee, established as a working-level, standing committee of the Policy Board, reviews proposals submitted to the UNPRPD Fund and makes fund allocation decisions within the parameters set by the Board.
The Board and the Management Committee are supported in their work by a Technical Secretariat, currently hosted by the UNDP Poverty Practice. In addition to supporting the Policy Board and Management Committee governance functions, the Technical Secretariat facilitates coordination among Participating UN Organizations and undertakes external relations work on behalf of the Partnership members.
The UNPRPD Policy Board and its Management Committee are based on four key constituencies—UN, CRPD States Parties, donors, persons with disabilities and broader civil society. Each Board member is expected to act also as representative of its constituency peers. In addition, the Chair of the Committee on the Rights of Persons Disabilities and the Special Rapporteur on Disability of the UN Commission on Social Development are invited to advise the Board, together with two other appointed eminent persons, distinguished for their work in promoting disability rights. The criteria regulating selection and rotation of Members are laid out in the UNPRPD’s Strategic and Operational Framework.
The administration of the UNPRPD Fund is entrusted to the UNDP Multi-Partner Trust Fund Office (MPTF Office), which as Administrative Agent serves as the Fund’s administrative interface with donors and Participating UN Organizations. UNDP’s accountability as the Administrative Agent is set out in the policy “UNDP’s Accountability when acting as Administrative Agent in MDTFs and/or UN Joint Programmes using the pass-through fund management modality” (see http://www.undp.org/mdtf/docs/UNDP-AA-guidelines.pdf). UNDP performs the AA functions in accordance with the UNDG "Protocol on the Administrative Agent for Multi Donor Trust Funds and Joint Programmes, and One UN Funds". As Administrative Agent of the UNPRPD Fund, the UNDP Multi-Partner Trust Fund Office serves as an ex officio member of the UNPRPD Policy Board and Management Committee.
Each Participating UN Organization shall assume full programmatic and financial accountability for funds transferred to them by the Administrative Agent. Participating UN Organizations will also be responsible for establishing a separate ledger account for the receipt and administration of the funds disbursed to it by the Administrative Agent. Indirect costs of the Participating UN Organizations recovered through programme support costs will be 7%.
In the case of country-level programmes, the Participating UN Organizations may designate a ‘lead agency’ to coordinate the programmatic aspect of a joint programme, its reporting and Monitoring and Evaluation. During programme implementation, the lead agency can recruit a Joint Programme Coordinator who will be responsible for promoting synergies between agencies, public representation and communication of objectives, joint reporting of results, and other joint activities.
Where appropriate, a funded programme may establish a National Steering Committee which would include representatives of the UN, government and organizations of persons with disabilities as well as social partners and civil society organizations as relevant. The key role of the National Steering Committee would be to ensure adequate consultation with concerned parties in the implementation of the funded programme and in line with the UNDG Guidance Note on Establishing, Managing and Closing Multi-Donor Trust Funds.
Proposals for funding are submitted to the UNPRPD Fund by one or more of the Participating UN Organizations based on in-country-demand in consultation with governmental institutions, organizations of persons with disabilities and civil society partners, or other partners as relevant (e.g. social partners, academia, etc.). Given the critical importance of partnership-development for the UNPRPD, the Fund will only consider project ideas that can effectively demonstrate a significant level of engagement on the part of relevant government sectors, persons with disabilities and the broader civil society. Disbursed funds are programmed by the receiving organization in the most aid-effective way given the specific circumstances of the proposed initiative—including national execution and NGO execution, if and when appropriate.
Once a call for proposals is issued, proposals undergo a rigorous, multi-stage process of assessment. The draft joint programme proposal is submitted to the Technical Secretariat for review in line with design guidelines and standards. The UNPRPD Management Committee, supported by the Technical Secretariat, may decide to approve the proposals, approve proposal with modifications/conditions, defer/return with comments for further considerations or reject proposals. The Management Committee draws on feedback received from external partners and recognized experts in the field through the peer review of proposals coordinated by the Technical Secretariat. The decision of the Management Committee has to be signed off by the Chair of Policy Board in order to become operational.
The standard steps for the assessment of proposals are detailed in the UNPRPD Strategic and Operational Framework. These steps, however, can be tailor-made to individual calls for proposals by the Management Committee, depending on specific needs and circumstances and taking into account four key process requirements: (1) ensuring quality; (2) reducing transaction costs; (3) reducing overhead costs; (4) eliminating conflict of interest.
On receipt of the UNPRPD Policy Board’s programme approval, the representatives of country/regional offices of the Participating UN Organizations will proceed with the signing of the joint programme document. On receipt of the UNPRPD Policy Board’s approval of a programme and a copy of the signed programme document accompanied by the programme budget, the MPTF Office, acting as Administrative Agent, will pass funds to the Participating UN Organizations. Periodic reviews of joint programme management and implementation will be undertaken jointly with the Participating Organizations.
Participating Organizations are required to submit final year-end expenditures by April 30 in the following year; Interim expenditure figures are submitted on a voluntary basis and therefore current year figures are not final until the year-end expenditures have been submitted.
Funds with Administrative Agent
Funds with Participating Organizations
For Policy and Programme Issues
UNPRPD Technical Secrertariat
For Fund Administrative Agent Issues
Multi-Partner Trust Fund Office (MPTF Office), Bureau of Management, United Nations Development Programme; Fax: +1 212 906 6990;