4 December 2013
Secretary-General
SG/SM/15517

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

Secretary-General, at Launch of Headquarters Accessibility Centre,

 

Stresses Need to Build United Nations ‘Inclusive for All’

 


Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki‑moon’s remarks at a special event launching the Accessibility Centre at United Nations Headquarters, in New York on 4 December:


I am delighted to join all of you at this special event to launch the Accessibility Centre at the United Nations.  I am especially happy to welcome many persons with disabilities who have done so much to promote inclusivity at the United Nations and around the world.  Thank you for your advocacy.  I am always with you in this cause.


Yesterday was the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.  Today we prove that we care about this issue all year round.


I thank our colleagues in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, the Department of Public Information, the Department for General Assembly and Conference Management and others who helped to establish the Centre.  I am especially grateful to the Government of the Republic of Korea for its generous contribution that turned our vision for the Centre into a reality.


One of the great features of this Centre is that its approach is not centralized.  People can stop by, and borrow state-of-the-art equipment, and then leave to join their colleagues at different UN meetings.  Of course others may wish to recharge their wheelchairs at the Centre, or type with a PalmOn keyboard, or take advantage of different services.  But the result for all users is to integrate with the whole UN community.


In fact, equipment from the Centre is not all located at the Centre.  You can find PalmOn keyboards at other IT [information technology] kiosks around the building.  We are privileged to share this equipment to all who need it free of charge.  All we ask in return is your involvement, your ideas and your initiative.


I have seen throughout my UN career persons with disabilities who make an enormous contribution to our global work — on human rights and so much more, including peacefully settling disputes, advancing sustainable development and establishing the rule of law.  You can count on us to do everything possible to support your valuable work.  And we count on you to keep pressing for progress on issues across the international agenda.


The Accessibility Centre is more than an example of inclusivity.  It is a model of the digital United Nations we are trying to create.  We are moving forward with twenty-first century solutions that make the most of technological innovation.


I am confident that this Centre will be a great success.  Our New York Headquarters can inspire similar facilities around the world.  Already the Korean Government has provided equipment to the ESCAP [Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific] Headquarters in Bangkok.  I call on other countries to follow this lead.


Today’s event shows that we are making good on the promise of world leaders who met here six weeks ago for the High-Level Meeting on Disability and Development.  I was encouraged by their strong resolve to join forces for disability-inclusive development.  I appreciated their pledge to advance the rights of all persons with disabilities.  And I shared their conviction that this is deeply rooted in the United Nations Charter and our Universal Declaration of Human Rights.


That is why I am so pleased that the Accessibility Centre and its services are now an integral part of our servicing of meetings and located at the heart of our conference building.  This is fitting for the place where we host global dialogues on the major challenges facing our world.  I hope that like this Accessibility Centre itself, the human rights of persons with disabilities will be front and centre in our work as we see increased engagement and participation of persons with disabilities at the UN meetings.


The United Nations has a special Task Force on Accessibility bringing together different departments to make our facilities and services accessible to everyone.  Many of our recent meetings have been accessible.


We are also making good progress toward a UN system-wide accessibility policy.  But I will not be satisfied until we do even more.  Fortunately, we have encouraging support from Member States and civil society.


I call on all Governments, the United Nations system and civil society to do even more for accessibility across the United Nations.  Together, let’s build a UN that is inclusive for all.


Thank you.


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For information media • not an official record