December 3 marks the International Day for People with Disabilities. In Indonesia, this is a chance to highlight the urgency to implement The Marrakesh Treaty.

The Marrakesh Treaty to facilitate access to published works for persons with print disabilities (‘the Treaty’) provides an international legal framework to allow the creation, distribution and cross-border exchange of accessible format works for use by print-disabled people. It aims to create significant contributions to the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with print disabilities, and to Indonesia’s inclusive, just and sustainable development. The Marrakesh Treaty provides a legal framework to help accelerate the implementation of Indonesia’s new law on persons with disabilities (Law No.8 of 2016) and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).

In supporting the Government of Indonesia to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) principles of ‘leaving no one behind’ and ‘reaching the furthest behind first,’ UNDP Indonesia provided technical assistance in the ratification process of the Marrakesh Treaty and its implementation once ratified. This international treaty, which went into force in 2016 is designed to fulfil the right to information and knowledge among blind, visually-impaired, otherwise print disabled persons. Indonesia being one of only two ASEAN countries to sign the Marrakesh Treaty demonstrated strong leadership and commitment to advancing disability rights both at national and global levels. This ratification process makes it necessary to enable Indonesia as a contracting party to the Treaty.

The 2015 Intercensal Population Survey (SUPAS 2015) shows that there are 13,221,240 people who are visually impaired in Indonesia.[1] The figure was obtained from a survey of 207,839,035 people[2], or 6.4% of the total population. This resembles its prevalence across Indonesian provinces which requires sense of urgency from the Government of Indonesia.

It is estimated that less than 1 percent of published books in developing countries are ever made into formats accessible to persons with print disabilities.[i] This situation   is referred to as a ‘book famine’, which can exclude persons with print disabilities from education, employment, healthcare, culture or participation in about any aspect of political, economic and social activities. Legal obstacles to the creation and distribution of published works in accessible formats, and their cross-border exchange have contributed to the ‘book famine’ for persons with print disabilities. Indonesia becomes one of the countries called upon to join the Marrakesh Treaty aiming to end the “book famine”.

Following a recent UNDP workshop highlighting the importance of Marrakesh Treaty ratification by clarifying strong alignment with national policy, public needs and political interests in Indonesia, The President of the Indonesian Blind Union (Pertuni), Aria Indrawati called on all parties including the government, the printing industry and the UN to step up its joint- efforts to improving access of books for the blind and visually impaired people.  Ratifying the Treaty will oblige countries to allow production, dissemination, import and export of published materials in accessible format by authorized entities such as disabled organizations, libraries, schools and government entities.

Currently, UNDP Indonesia with Yayasan Mitra Netra and Indonesian Blind Union (Pertuni) is supporting the government on the process of the ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty. The process includes developing a policy brief in the implementation of Marrakesh Treaty in accessible formats and promoting awareness on the importance of this treaty to the Government of Indonesia. By voicing the Marrakesh Treaty, we will work together to open barriers for persons with print disabilities in Indonesia and leave no one behind.

[1] See http://bps.go.id/website/pdf_publikasi/Penduduk-Indonesia-hasil-SUPAS-2015_rev.pdf

[i] World Blind Union (2013). Press Release WIPO Negotiations Treaty for Blind people. Available at http://www.worldblindunion.org/english/news/pages/press-release-wipo-negotiations-treaty-for-blind-people.aspx

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