7 September 2011
Deputy Secretary-General

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

Give Disability Issues Attention They Deserve beyond Conference Room, Urges


Deputy Secretary-General as Conference of Parties Begins Session


Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro’s remarks at the opening of the fourth session of the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, in New York, today, 7 September:

I am pleased to join you.  In this room we have a strong coalition — the United Nations, civil society organizations and, especially, individuals and organizations devoted to the rights of persons with disabilities.  We are here today because of all of you — your hard work and the distances you have travelled, both literally and figuratively.

Those roads were not smooth.  You had to knock down walls of discrimination.  You had to build bridges of understanding.  You galvanized a diverse movement around the universal truth that persons with disabilities must enjoy full human rights and fundamental freedoms.  You and I and millions of others know that when we respect the inherent dignity of persons with disabilities, we enrich our human family.

More than 100 States have ratified the Convention — testament to the growing global understanding of how important it is to redress the many challenges facing persons with disabilities.  Now we have to take this understanding to the next level.  That means giving this issue the attention it deserves far beyond this conference room.  You can tell the world — and many of you can show the world — that persons with disabilities can make an enormous contribution to progress.

I also urge you to seize upcoming opportunities.  I am thinking in particular of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, “ Rio+20” next year, where you can promote development which is disability-inclusive.  As we approach the deadline for reaching the Millennium Development Goals, we need you to keep the world focused on the immense potential contribution of persons with disability.  We also need your input in shaping what we do beyond 2015.

Even today, almost five years after the adoption of the Convention, too many persons with disabilities do not even know this historic instrument exists.  Far too many are denied the rights it is supposed to guarantee.  As long as they are denied those rights, we cannot rest.

And, as we have been previously reminded by the brilliant musician and UN Messenger of Peace, Stevie Wonder, for as long as even one person with a disability is left without an opportunity, then we should not allow ourselves to stop caring.

Let us help all persons with disabilities to fully realize their rights, so that our shared society can enjoy a better future.

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For information media • not an official record