3 December 2009

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

On International Day of Persons with Disabilities, Secretary-General

Says Reaching Global Development Goals Should Benefit All People

Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, today, 3 December, in New York:

It is a pleasure and a privilege to introduce our newly designated United Nations Messenger of Peace, Mr. Stevie Wonder.

It is no wonder why we are so excited today to have Mr. Wonder as a United Nations Messenger of Peace. Thank you so very much for joining us as a United Nations family member.

Stevie Wonder is loved and admired throughout the world.  He has won more Grammy Awards than any other solo male artist.  His music spans the generations, and the globe.

But Stevie Wonder is much more than a music star. He is a great humanitarian and activist.

He campaigned against apartheid in South Africa, and against hunger in Ethiopia.

For the past decade, he has provided toys for children and families in need through his annual House Full of Toys benefit concert.

And for many, many years, he has done wonderful work for persons with disabilities.

Stevie, You are an inspiration to all, and we are honoured to welcome you into the United Nations family.

On a more personal note, I must confess that part of me wants to borrow you for a couple of weeks, for another purpose.

As you know, a crucially important climate change conference opens next week in Copenhagen.  Our slogan is “Seal the deal”.  And I have realized that the perfect motto for what we want to achieve is the title of one of your great songs:  “Signed, Sealed, Delivered”!

We want to sign this climate change deal in Copenhagen, and seal it, and deliver it to the international community.  Would you consider a special performance to inspire the negotiators?

Seriously, let me stress that all of us at the United Nations look forward to working with you to advance the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities.

That effort is what has brought us together today, on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

The theme of this year’s International Day focuses on the Millennium Development Goals.  We want to make our work towards the Goals more inclusive so that all people, including those with disabilities, are part of development and benefit from it.

Around the world, an estimated one person in four is affected by disability, either directly, or as caregivers or family members.  Far from being a minority issue, disability is something that can affect any of us at some point in our lives.

The rights of those with disabilities are truly universal human rights.  Raising awareness and promoting these rights is part of the United Nations core mandate ‑‑ an essential foundation for peace, security and prosperity.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which entered into force last year, represents our commitment to justice and equality for those with disabilities.  It stresses empowering persons with disabilities to be who they are, and to achieve what they want, in the ways they choose.

On this International Day, let us commit ourselves again to advocating for the Convention ‑‑ its universality and its implementation.

Just as there are no boundaries in music, let there be no boundaries in our efforts towards development and peace.

It is my pleasure now to invite our new Messenger of Peace to say a few words.  Stevie, the floor is yours.

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For information media • not an official record