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Promise in peril – ECOWAS statement

August 2023

Joint statement by West African disability rights organisations ahead of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Summit of Heads of State and Government on Sunday 9 July 2023

In September 2015, member states of the United Nations (UN) joined together to adopt the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). They set ambitious and wide-ranging targets to end poverty and reduce inequality by 2030. Importantly, they committed to a key promise to leave no one behind – a promise that included persons with disabilities.

On the 18 and 19 September this year, the Secretary-General of the UN, Mr António Guterres, will convene a summit on the SDGs during the high-level week of the 78th UN General Assembly.

This strategic meeting will take place at the mid-point of Agenda 2030. While some progress has been made, it is widely considered that SDG progress across the world is considerably off track. The promise to leave no one behind is in peril. It is our strong belief that if the SDGs are to be delivered, now is the time to reflect on their implementation as well as the steps needed globally and nationally to achieve them.

The Equal World campaign is calling on world leaders to ensure that both the political declaration of the SDG Summit taking place this September at the UN, and the national commitments made at the summit, focus on reaching people who are being left furthest behind.

The forthcoming Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Summit, scheduled to take place on 9 July 2023 in Guinea-Bissau, provides us with an opportunity to draw attention to the SDG Summit and the disability-inclusive transformative and accelerated action that is required at global, regional, sub-regional and national levels to achieve a fair, inclusive and equal world for all.

As disability rights organisations working with people with disabilities in West Africa, we believe that the SDG Summit, in which ECOWAS Heads of State and Government have been invited to participate, will only be successful if persons with disabilities are included in global, regional, sub-regional and national engagement processes, and if disability-inclusive transformative and accelerated actions are taken.

To deliver the action that is required at a regional level in West Africa, we recommend to ECOWAS Heads of State and Government:

  • That persons with disabilities have an equal say in processes leading up to the SDG Summit in accordance with the provisions of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)
  • That ECOWAS renews its commitments to the greater inclusion of persons with disabilities in its Vision 2050 at the SDG Summit and champions disability inclusion in West Africa and globally
  • That ECOWAS works with persons with disabilities to effectively implement the concrete actions mentioned in Pillar 5 of ECOWAS Vision 2050
Sightsavers Equal world logo

Mrs Fatoumata Diouf

Regional Director West and Central Africa, Sightsavers

WAFOD logo

Mr Yatma Fall

President, FOAPH

Light for the World logo

Mr Elie Bagbila

Head of Rights and Advocacy, Light for the World

Read the statement in French.

Read the statement in Portuguese.

Read more about Equal World’s campaign, Promise in Peril.

Find out more about our SDGs campaign

Read more