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Ban urges inclusion of persons with disabilities into society

Article / Review by on December 2, 2011 – 7:10 pmNo Comments

Ban urges inclusion of persons with disabilities into society

Disabled workers at a chalk factory in Ghana's capital, Accra
Disabled workers at a chalk factory in Ghana’s capital, Accra

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for governments, civil society and the global community to work alongside persons with disabilities, saying their participation is essential to achieve inclusive and sustainable development worldwide.

In his message marking the International Day for Persons with Disabilities, Mr. Ban said that although there has been significant progress in raising awareness of the rights of persons with disabilities and many countries have committed to protect their rights through international agreements, they still experience unequal conditions.

“Persons with disabilities experience higher rates of poverty and deprivation and are twice as likely to lack health care,” Mr. Ban said. “Employment rates of persons with disabilities in some countries are as low as one third of that of the overall population.”

An estimated 15 per cent of the world’s population has a disability and over two thirds of persons with disabilities live in developing countries, where the gap in primary school attendance rates between children with disabilities and others ranges from 10 per cent to 60 per cent.

“This multi-dimensional exclusion represents a huge cost, not only to persons with disabilities but to society as a whole. This year’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities reminds us that development can only be sustainable when it is equitable, inclusive and accessible for all,” Mr. Ban said.

“Persons with disabilities need therefore be included at all stages of development processes, from inception to monitoring and evaluation,” he added.

Echoing Mr. Ban’s remarks, General Assembly President Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser said development cannot be inclusive without implementing policies and programmes to help persons with disabilities.

“As we work towards the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) and as the agreed date for achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) approaches, let us seize all opportunities to ensure the inclusion of disability in the development agenda post-2015,” he said.

Mr. Al-Nasser stressed that States already have the tools to make progress on this issue and urged countries which have not done so to sign the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

“Worldwide, the link between disability, poverty and social exclusion is clear and direct. Yet we have at our finger tips international human rights instruments that protect and promote the rights of persons with disabilities,” Mr. Al-Nasser said in his message for the day, celebrated tomorrow.

“It is only if the convention is implemented at the national level that it can have any positive impact on the lives of persons with disabilities,” he added.

The convention, which came into force in 2008, aims to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all rights and fundamental freedoms by persons with disabilities. It has been signed by 153 States and ratified by 107.

“The vast majority of UN Member States have recognized the importance of respecting the rights of men, women and children with disabilities to the same quality of life as others,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay. “They must now urgently set about making the promise of the convention a reality, including by ensuring that individuals with disabilities are not disenfranchised.”

Ms. Pillay also stressed that countries need to remove obstacles that prevent persons with disabilities from exercising their political rights, saying that they are “often prevented from exercising this right because of discriminatory laws, the lack of accessible voting booths or because electoral material and information is not available in accessible formats such as sign language and Braille.

“Such obstacles prevent the exercise of one of the most fundamental human rights – to have a say in one’s own government,” she said.

As part of the celebrations for the Day, a series of events have been organized at UN Headquarters in New York today, including panel discussions on strengthening the data and statistics on disability for informed policy-making and integrating disability issues into global development reports. In the afternoon, the Enable Film Festival (EFF) will showcase films and documentaries on persons with disabilities from around the world.

The annual observance of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities on 3 December was established in 1981 during the International Year for Disabled Persons. The Day aims to promote a better understanding of disability issues with a focus on the rights of people with disabilities and the gains that could be derived from integrating them better in every aspect of the political, social, economic and cultural life of their communities.

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29 November 2011

SECRETARY-GENERAL SAYS GOVERNMENTS, CIVIL SOCIETY, GLOBAL COMMUNITY SHOULD WORK 

ALONGSIDE PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES TOWARDS EQUITABLE DEVELOPMENT WORLDWIDE

Following is UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s message for the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, observed on 3 December:

It is 30 years since the United Nations first observed the International Year of Disabled Persons under the theme “Full Participation and Equality”.  During that period, there has been significant progress in raising awareness about the rights of persons with disabilities and in strengthening the international normative framework to realize those rights — from the World Programme of Action (1982) to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006).

More and more countries are committing to protecting and promoting the rights of persons with disabilities.  However, many challenges remain.  Persons with disabilities experience higher rates of poverty and deprivation, and are twice as likely to lack health care.  Employment rates of persons with disabilities in some countries are as low as one third of that of the overall population.  In developing countries, the gap in primary school attendance rates between children with disabilities and others ranges from 10 per cent to 60 per cent.

This multidimensional exclusion represents a huge cost, not only to persons with disabilities, but to society as a whole.  This year’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities reminds us that development can only be sustainable when it is equitable, inclusive and accessible for all.  Persons with disabilities need, therefore, to be included at all stages of development processes, from inception to monitoring and evaluation.

Addressing negative attitudes, the lack of services or ready access to them, and other harmful social, economic and cultural barriers will benefit all of society.

On this International Day of Persons with Disabilities, I call on Governments, civil society and the global community to work for and alongside persons with disabilities to achieve inclusive, sustainable and equitable development worldwide.

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New York, 2 December 2011

ON THE OCCASION OF THE COMMEMORATION OF THE INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES

(DELIVERED BY AMBASSADOR MUTLAQ M. AL-QAHTANI, CHEF DE CABINET,
ON BEHALF OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY)

Madame Deputy Secretary-General,
Distinguished panelists,
Excellencies, 
Ladies and gentlemen,

The President of the General Assembly, His Excellency Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser regrets that he is not able to be with you today, as he is traveling on official business.

As Chef de Cabinet for the President, I have the pleasure of delivering the following message on his behalf.

Today we commemorate both the International Day of Persons with Disabilities and the 30th anniversary of the United Nations International Year of Disabled Persons.

An estimated fifteen per cent of the world’s population has a disability.

Over two thirds of persons with disabilities live in developing countries.

It is no secret that women, men and children with disabilities often face stigma and discrimination, including those in countries with high living standards.

Many cannot participate fully in their societies.

Disabled populations are often the tragic consequence of war and conflict.

Worldwide, the link between disability, poverty and social exclusion is clear and direct.

Yet we have at our finger tips international human rights instruments that protect and promote the rights of persons with disabilities.

The 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights reminds us that all human beings shall enjoy the same rights and freedoms, without distinction of any kind.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, adopted in 2006 and entered into force in May 2008, covers the full spectrum of civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights.

It aims to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all rights and fundamental freedoms by persons with disabilities, and to promote respect for their inherent dignity.

Today, we commemorate this Convention’s adoption by the General Assembly. We celebrate its acceptance by over half of all countries around the world, and we encourage the other half to commit to its ratification.

For it is only if the Convention is implemented at the national level that it can have any positive impact on the lives of persons with disabilities.

As is the case with all human rights treaties, the obligation for implementation falls on States parties.

But we all have a role to play.

States are assisted through the oversight mechanisms provided by the Convention and its Optional Protocol, and it is our shared responsibility to make these function properly. To make them accessible to all persons affected by disabilities. And to disseminate them widely.

This will require changes not only in law, policies and programmes, but in attitudes as well.

Change takes time and can be slow, but at a minimum all persons with disabilities must enjoy equal respect and dignity– nothing less.

The General Assembly has long reiterated the integration of disability into the international discourse regarding development, peace and security, and human rights. These include discourses leading to the International Year of Disabled Persons, and later to the International Decade, which began in 1983.

Just a few weeks ago, under the leadership of the Philippines and Tanzania, the Assembly demonstrated its strong commitment to the inclusion of persons with disabilities in development.

The Assembly adopted a resolution which decided to hold a high-level meeting on disability and development.

This meeting will take place on twenty-three September 2013, the day before the beginning of the General Debate, thus giving it maximum visibility and encouraging Member State participation at the highest level.

Beforing concluding, I would note that “Sustainable development and global prosperity” is one of the four key areas on which I have invited the Assembly’s membership to focus its work during this session.

As we work towards the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development – Rio+20 – and as the agreed date for acheiving the MDGs approaches, let us seize all opportunities to ensure the inclusion of disability in the development agenda post-two 2015.

It strikes me that “disability” contains a crucial word: “ability”. Let us reaffirm today our commitment to building inclusive and empowering communities that harness the abilities of all and guarantee equal rights, freedoms and dignity.

Thank you.

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Pillay: States must remove obstacles to political participation by individuals with disabilities

2 December 2011

GENEVA – UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay on Friday highlighted the “unacceptable obstacles to political participation” confronting individuals with disabilities in all parts of the world, calling on States to ensure respect for the fundamental rights of this large segment of the population.

“The right to political participation and to have a voice in decision-making is one that has been in the spotlight this year around the world,” the UN human rights chief said. “One important, very large, but highly vulnerable group that must not be excluded in this sphere is that of persons with disabilities.”

“Often, such individuals are prevented from exercising this right because of discriminatory laws, the lack of accessible voting booths or because electoral material and information is not available in accessible formats such as sign language and Braille. Such obstacles prevent the exercise of one of the most fundamental human rights – to have a say in one’s own government.”

“Individuals with disabilities should certainly be able to vote and participate in decision-making at the community, local and national levels. It is the obligation of the State to ensure this is possible.”

Speaking ahead of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, which is marked annually on 3 December, the High Commissioner said it was heartening that the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities had been signed by 153 UN Member States since it opened for signature in March 2007.

“The vast majority of UN Member States have recognised the importance of respecting the rights of men, women and children with disabilities to the same quality of life as others,” she said. “They must now urgently set about making the promise of the Convention a reality, including by ensuring that individuals with disabilities are not disenfranchised.”

The UN Human Rights Office will be presenting a study on the rights of individuals with disabilities to participate in political and public life in March to the Human Rights Council.

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Ban Ki-moon is the eighth Secretary-General of the United Nations.
Ban Ki-moon
Secretary-General of the United Nations.

Ban Ki-moon is the eighth Secretary-General of the United Nations. His priorities have been to mobilize world leaders around a set of new global challenges, from climate change and economic upheaval to pandemics and increasing pressures involving food, energy and water. He has sought to be a bridge-builder, to give voice to the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people, and to strengthen the Organization itself.“I grew up in war”, the Secretary-General has said, “and saw the United Nations help my country to recover and rebuild.  That experience was a big part of what led me to pursue a career in public service.  As Secretary-General, I am determined to see this Organization deliver tangible, meaningful results that advance peace, development and human rights.”Mr. Ban took office on 1 January 2007. Highlights of his tenure have included:

Promoting sustainable development
One of the Secretary-General’s first major initiatives was the 2007 Climate Change Summit, followed by extensive diplomatic efforts that have helped put the issue at the forefront of the global agenda.  Subsequent efforts to focus on the world’s main anti-poverty targets, the Millennium Development Goals, have generated more than $60 billion in pledges, with a special emphasis on Africa and the new Global Strategy on Women’s and Children’s Health.  At the height of the food, energy and economic crises in 2008, the Secretary-General successfully appealed to the G20 for a $1 trillion financing package for developing countries and took other steps to guide the international response and protect the vulnerable and poor.

Empowering women
The Secretary-General pressed successfully for the creation of UN Women, a major new agency that consolidates the UN’s work in this area.  His advocacy for women’s rights and gender equality has also included the “Unite to End Violence against Women” campaign, the “Stop Rape Now” initiative, the creation of a “Network of Men Leaders” and the establishment of a new Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict.  Within the UN itself, the Secretary-General has increased the number of women in senior management positions by more than 40 per cent, reaching the highest level in the Organization’s history.

Supporting countries facing crisis or instability
The Secretary-General has sought to strengthen UN peace efforts, including through the New Horizons peacekeeping initiative, the Global Field Support Strategy and the Civilian Capacity Review, a package of steps to improve the impact of the 120,000 United Nations “blue helmets” operating in the world’s conflict zones. A mediation support unit, along with new capacity to carry out the Secretary-General’s good offices, have been set up to help prevent, manage and resolve tensions, conflicts and crises.  Accountability for violations of human rights has received high-level attention through inquiries related to Gaza, Guinea, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, legal processes in Lebanon and Cambodia, and advocacy for the “responsibility to protect,” the new United Nations norm aimed at prevent and halt genocide and other grave crimes.  He has also sought to strengthen humanitarian response in the aftermath of mega-disasters in Myanmar (2008), Haiti (2010) and Pakistan (2010), and mobilized UN support for the democratic transitions in North Africa and the Middle East.

Generating new momentum on disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation
The Secretary-General has sought to rejuvenate the disarmament agenda through a five-point plan, efforts to break the deadlock at the Conference on Disarmament and renewed attention to nuclear safety and security in the aftermath of the tragedy at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.

Strengthening the UN
The Secretary-Generalhas introduced new measures aimed at making the United Nations more transparent, effective and efficient.  These include heightened financial disclosure requirements, compacts with senior managers, harmonization of business practices and conditions of service, the adoption of International Public Sector Accounting Standards, and continued investments in information technology and staff development.

Personal
The Secretary-General was born in the Republic of Korea on 13 June 1944.  He received a bachelor’s degree in international relations from Seoul National University in 1970. In 1985, he earned a master’s degree in public administration from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.At the time of his election as Secretary-General, Mr. Ban was his country’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade. His 37 years of service with the Ministry included postings in New Delhi, Washington D.C. and Vienna, and responsibility for a variety of portfolios, including Foreign Policy Adviser to the President, Chief National Security Adviser to the President, Deputy Minister for Policy Planning and Director-General of American Affairs.Mr. Ban’s ties to the United Nations date back to 1975, when he worked for the Foreign Ministry’s United Nations Division. That work expanded over the years, with assignments that included service as Chairman of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization and Chef de Cabinet during the Republic of Korea’s 2001-2002 presidency of the UN General Assembly.  Mr. Ban has also been actively involved in issues relating to inter-Korean relations.The Secretary-General speaks English, French and Korean. He and his wife, Madam Yoo (Ban) Soon-taek, whom he met in high school in 1962, have one son, two daughters and three grandchildren.  Since 2007, Mrs. Ban has devoted her attention to women’s and children’s health, including autism, the elimination of violence against women, and the campaign to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV/AIDS.

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> United Nations (UN).

The General Assembly in session. Photo credit: UN / Eskinder Debebe The United Nations was established on 24 October 1945 by 51 countries committed to preserving peace through international cooperation and collective security. Today, nearly every nation in the world belongs to the UN: membership totals 192 countries.

When States become Members of the United Nations, they agree to accept the obligations of the UN Charter, an international treaty that sets out basic principles of international relations. According to the Charter, the UN has four purposes:

  • to maintain international peace and security;
  • to develop friendly relations among nations;
  • to cooperate in solving international problems and in promoting respect for human rights;
  • and to be a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations.

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* The above story is adapted from materials provided by United Nations (UN)
** More information at United Nations (UN)

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