At Paralympics, top UN official highlights rights of people with disabilities

Special Adviser on Sport for Development and Peace Wilfried Lemke (right) carries Paralympic torch (Credit: IPC)

16 March 2010 – The Paralympic Games currently under way in Vancouver, Canada, highlight the contribution sport can make in promoting the inclusion and well-being of people with disabilities, a senior United Nations official said today.

“The Paralympics are a powerful example of what can be achieved when everyone is given the opportunity to participate and perform to their full potential,” said Wilfried Lemke, the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Sport for Development and Peace.

Last Thursday, he carried the Paralympic torch in downtown Vancouver and the following day, together with Philipp Craven, President of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), opened the Olympic Truce Wall.

The traditional age-old truce urges warring parties to lay down their arms as the Olympic Games’ ancient Greek founders did some 2,700 years ago.

Last week, he also addressed students at a Model UN Conference in Vancouver on the importance of the Paralympic movement in advancing the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which Canada ratified the day before the Paralympic Games kicked off on 10 March.

The Convention, which entered into force in May 2008 and has so far been endorsed by 144 countries, is the culmination of years of global efforts to ensure that the rights of the world’s estimated 650 million persons with disabilities are guaranteed and protected.

It asserts the rights to education, health, work, adequate living conditions, freedom of movement, freedom from exploitation and equal recognition before the law for persons with disabilities.


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