12 May 2008
Secretary-General
SG/SM/11563
HR/4955
L/T/4414

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

SECRETARY-GENERAL, AT HEADQUARTERS EVENT, SAYS CONCRETE STEPS MUST NOW TRANSFORM


VISION OF DISABILITIES CONVENTION INTO ‘REAL VICTORIES ON THE GROUND’


Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks on the occasion of the entry into force of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, in New York, 12 May:


It is a great honour to address all of you on this historic day.  The entry into force of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol heralds a new dawn in the fight for the well-being of people with disabilities -- a struggle rooted in the fundamental principle of universal human rights.


We have arrived at this milestone through the unstinting efforts of an unprecedented coalition.  Seven years ago, President Vicente Fox of Mexico asked the General Assembly to consider a “comprehensive and integral convention to promote and protect the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities”.  His call situated this Convention within the broader context of addressing poverty, promoting social integration and creating just and equitable societies.


Since that day, the United Nations, its Member States, civil society organizations and countless persons with disabilities have worked tirelessly to deliver on this vision.  Today, we can declare success.


It is especially fitting that we do so in 2008 -- the year in which we celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of the United Nations Declaration for Human Rights.  The theme of this anniversary is “Dignity and justice for all of us”.  There can be no better way to give meaning to this slogan than through the entry into force of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.


But, as our journey to create the Convention concludes, an even more challenging path stretches ahead.  Now we must take concrete steps to transform the vision of the Convention into real victories on the ground.  We must address the glaring inequalities experienced by persons with disabilities.  We must counter discrimination and prejudice.  We must deliver development that is truly for all.  And we must convince more and more nations, organizations and individuals to join this cause.


I congratulate all States parties to the Convention, as well as those countries that are working towards ratification.  I also urge those countries that have not yet done so to consider ratification of the Convention and its Optional Protocol at the earliest possible date.  And I applaud the many civil society organizations that are already working hard to translate the spirit and letter of the Convention into action.


For its part, the United Nations system, spearheaded by the Department of Economic and Social Affairs and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, is taking steps to promote the purpose and principles of the Convention.  We recognize that, if we are to deliver on our ambitious agenda, we need everyone’s input, everyone’s ideas and everyone’s energies.


Above all, we are proud to stand with all of you in building inclusive societies -- communities that enable and encourage people with disabilities to contribute in many different ways.  Their participation strengthens us all, and their talents can help the international community deliver on the promise of a better, more prosperous world for everyone.


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For information media • not an official record