With financial support provided by the European Union through the EIDHR, the Armenian Association for the Disabled Pyunic (Yerevan, Armenia), together with its international partner, the Advocacy Centre on the Council of Europe Standards (ACCESS, Strasbourg, France) has started the implementation of a two-year long project. The final goal of the project is to improve the protection of social rights of persons with disabilities (PWD) living in Armenia. To reach this target, “Pyunic” and “ACCESS” will work together to strengthen the capacities of civil society organizations that are actively engaged in the rights protection of PWDs.

The main purpose of capacity building initiatives planned under the project is to introduce European standards and approaches in addressing disability issues. The CSOs will be urged to get involved in the monitoring mechanisms of the Council of Europe. This envisions the collection and provision of reliable data on the situation on addressing social needs of PWDs by state bodies in Armenia. Project activities will be implemented in Yerevan, as well as in Gyumri and Vanadzor cities. Major capacity building activities will include conferences, trainings, round table discussions, public debates and working sessions.

A completely innovative six-month long e-learning course will be developed and made available by the Council of Europe’s HELP program. The course will be designed for Armenian professionals working on disability and cross-cutting issues. Two international experts will prepare material for the training course that will focus on CoE human rights standards. A direct link to the platform will soon be available on “Pyunic” web site.

The project will actively involve around 35 CSOs that have expert understanding in social rights of PWDs as well as in the shortcomings in the Armenian legislation. The partner CSOs will take part in all events arranged within the project. They will get in touch with state authorities to discuss strategic development and improvement issues. Two CSOs will be selected to prepare and submit alternative reports on the shortcomings in the protection of social rights of PWD to the European Committee of Social Rights and the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance respectively. It would enable the CSOs to use new tools and new venues to voice their concerns, and promote effective change. Simultaneously, the Council of Europe bodies will be fueled with updated and accurate analytical data that is required to issue their conclusions and recommendations. Thus, the project will help Armenian CSOs to have a better understanding of and better access to the relevant CoE monitoring mechanisms.

Major project events will be preceded by an in-depth study on the protection of social rights of PWD conducted by international experts. They will use their findings to produce an analytical report, including a set of recommendations to the Armenian authorities. The downloadable version of the report in Armenian and English languages will be available on the web site. ACCESS will also develop a Handbook on the CoE standards relevant to the protection of the rights of persons with disabilities. The handbook will serve as a reference tool for civil society and other audiences. The downloadable versions of the publication in Armenian and English languages will be available on the web site. Within the awareness raising component of the project following activities are planned: a Marathon to the Holy See of Mother Echmiadzin and an Ascent to Mount Aragats with participation of people with disabilities. These events will demonstrate the will and inexhaustible energy of people with disabilities and will urge the public at large to focus more on abilities rather than on disabilities of these people. A transportable photo exhibition, highlighting the situation of PWD in Armenia, will also be open to the public in different sites of Yerevan, Gyumri and Vanadzor. Project Duration: February 1, 2017 – January 31, 2019 Project Budget: EUR 200,000 (101,318,000 AMD)