12 September 2012
General Assembly

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

Background Release

Annual United Nations Review of Convention Seeks to Advance


Rights for 1 Billion People with Disabilities Worldwide


Special Focus on Women, Children as Representatives

Of Governments, Advocacy Groups Attend Conference of States Parties

Hundreds of advocates and experts on disability gathered alongside Government delegates today as the fifth session of the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) opened at United Nations Headquarters in New York.

The Conference of States Parties — the largest international meeting on disability issues — is held each year to exchange experiences and ideas for the implementation of the Convention, which was adopted on 13 December 2006.  The 119 States Parties that have ratified or acceded to the Convention so far are required to promote full equality and participation of persons with disabilities in society.

“It is our responsibility as members of the international community and citizens of our own countries to bring about changes to more than   billion persons with disabilities worldwide,” said Wu Hongbo, Under Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs.  “There is no development when so many people are without equal opportunities and excluded from society.”

Running until 14 September under the theme “Making the CRPD Count for Women and Children”, the Conference brings together hundreds of delegates from Governments, United Nations system entities, academia and civil society, including representatives of organizations of persons with disabilities, to review good practices and challenges in implementing the Convention, especially for vulnerable groups.

“Women and children with disabilities face aggravated forms of discrimination and other forms of obstacles in life,” said Mårten Grunditz ( Sweden), President of the Conference.  “So much talent is wasted, but opportunities can be seized and created.  Let’s make it count for them because it’s right and it’s smart.”

“Albert Einstein had a learning disability and didn’t speak until age three,” Mr. Wu added.  “Ludwig van Beethoven was deaf, Helen Keller was deaf and blind; these stories tell the same simple truth — disability is by no means inability,” he emphasized.  “These individuals, just like many others, including the incredible athletes of the recent Paralympic Games, achieved greatness and demonstrated that by breaking down barriers, and with the right opportunities, exceptional things are possible.”

The full schedule of the Conference and additional information are available at www.un.org/disabilities.  The Conference can be followed live at www.un.org/webcast and on Twitter @UN(#COSP5).

Press contacts:  Fred Doulton, Secretariat for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, tel: +1 212 963 4466, e-mail: doultonf@un.org; and Melanie Prudhomme, United Nations Department of Public Information; tel: +1 917 367 3541; e-mail: prudhommem@un.org.

Available for Interviews

Shuaib Chalklen, Special Rapporteur on Disability — contact Eric Zhang, tel: +1 212 963 4755, e-mail: zhangg@un.org

Ron McCallum, Chair, Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities — contact Eric Zhang, tel: +1 212 963 4755, e-mail: zhangg@un.org

Roseangela Berman Bieler, Special Adviser on Children, UNICEF, tel:  +1 212 824 6067, e-mail: rbermanbieler@unicef.org

Maribel Derjani-Bayeh, Focal Point on Women with Disabilities, UN-Women, tel:  +1 646 781 4653, e-mail: maribel.derjani-bayeh@unwomen.org

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For information media • not an official record