Countries must increase commitment to rights of persons with disabilities – UN chief

Queen Sofía of Spain speaks at the ceremony where she accepted the 2012 Franklin D. Roosevelt International Disability Rights Award. UN Photo/Paulo Filgueiras

9 September 2013 – The international community must step up its efforts to protect the rights of persons with disabilities and advance their development, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his message to a ceremony in New York honouring countries that have shown dedication to the cause.

“Several States have taken major steps to implement the Convention {on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities]. However, for too many persons with disabilities, stigma, discrimination and exclusion remain a fact of everyday life,” Mr. Ban said in his remarks to the Franklin Delano Roosevelt International Disability Rights Award Ceremony, which this year recognized Queen Sofia of Spain.

“Our challenge is to energize the international community to move from commitment to action. As we strive to accelerate our work for the Millennium Development Goals, and as we consider the post-2015 development framework, greater recognition must be given to the issue of disability in sustainable, inclusive and equitable development,” Mr. Ban said in his speech, delivered by his Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, Ivan Šimonovic.

People with disabilities make up about 15 per cent of the global population. The Award, which was established in 1995, helps shine a spotlight on countries that have shown real commitment and dedication to advancing the disability agenda. Later this month, the UN General Assembly will hold a High-level Meeting on Disability and Development. The event will be co-facilitated by Spain.

Mr. Ban said he was deeply grateful to Queen Sofia and the Spanish royal family, as well as to the Spanish Government and people, for their display of leadership and for the efforts of the European country towards inclusion and equality, such as last year’s adoption of a comprehensive strategy on disability, which “promises to remove barriers to participation in all aspects of society, including employment, social protection and public life.”

“A world that recognizes the rights of the disabled, ensures that people with disabilities can be productive members of their communities and nations, and provides an inclusive and accessible environment, is a world that will benefit all of us – with or without disabilities,” he added.

Mr. Ban also met separately with Queen Sofia, and discussed the upcoming High-level meeting. He commended Queen Sofia on her steadfast support to water and sanitation issues worldwide and on advancing access to clean water as a human right. They also discussed the need to accelerate implementation of the Millennium Development Goals and the crafting of a post-2015 development agenda.


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