Development and human rights for all

Implementation of the World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons [E/CN.5/2001/7 Interim Report] - part 1

Interim Report of the Secretary-General

Commission for Social Development
Thirty-ninth session

13-23 February 2001
Item 3 (b) of the provisional agenda
Follow-up to the World Summit for Social Development:
review of relevant United Nations plans and programmes
of action pertaining to the situation of social groups

OUTLINE

  1. Introduction
  2. Progress in equalization of opportunities by, for and with persons with disabilities
    1. Accessibility
    2. Social services and sustainable livelihoods
    3. International norms and standards related to persons with disabilities
    4. Global statistics and indicators on disability
    5. Children with disabilities
    6. Activities of the United Nations Voluntary Fund on Disability
    7. Development Account for the biennium 2000-2001
  3. Regional cooperation for equalization of opportunities
    1. African Decade of Disabled People (2000-2009)
    2. Asian and Pacific Decade of Disabled Persons (1993-2002)
  4. Perspective framework for the fourth review and appraisal of the implementation of the World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons

I. Introduction

  1. The current report has been prepared pursuant to paragraph 16 of General Assembly resolution 54/121, of 17 December 1999, "Implementation of the World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons: towards a society for all in the twenty-first century", in which the Assembly requests the Secretary-General to submit a report on implementation of the resolution to the Assembly at its fifty-sixth session, through the Commission for Social Development at its thirty-ninth session.
  2. The present interim report is in three parts. The first part describes progress in implementing equalization of opportunities by, for and with persons with disabilities in the light of priorities for action identified in Assembly resolution 54/121. The second part reviews selected experiences in regional cooperation, in particular the Asian and Pacific Decade of Disabled Persons (1993-2002) and the Africa Decade of Disabled People (2000-2009). The third part presents a perspective framework for the fourth review and appraisal of the World Programme of Action, as requested by the General Assembly in resolution 52/82, of 16 December 1997.

II. Progress in equalization of opportunities by, for and with persons with disabilities

  1. In resolution 54/121 the General Assembly identifies priorities for action to further equalization of opportunities and promote a more inclusive society for all. Chief among the priorities identified is accessibility in the environment and with regard to information and communications services. Health and social services, including training and rehabilitation, and employment and sustainable livelihoods are areas that also received special attention. The Assembly also calls for action related to international norms and standards, disability statistics and children with disabilities. Selected experience in implementing the resolution is discussed below.

A. Accessibility

  1. The report of the Secretary-General to the General Assembly at its fifty-fourth session on implementation of the World Programme of Action (A/54/388/Add.1)1 discusses both policy and operational aspects of "accessibility", rule 5 of the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities.2 Accessibility is examined with respect to the environment and to information and communications technologies.
  2. The report also describes briefly preparations by the secretariat of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) to organize an international seminar on environmental accessibility. The seminar took place from 30 November to 3 December 1999 at United Nations House at Beirut with a high level of participation by policy makers, practitioners, academics and representatives of the non-governmental community. Seminar proceedings were enhanced by a study tour of the experience of Beirut in planning and development of non-handicapping and barrier-free environments, particularly the innovative activities by SOLIDERE, the Lebanese Company for the Development and Reconstruction of the Beirut Central District.3 Seminar participants took note of the treatment of accessibility in rule 5 of the Standard Rules and adopted recommendations on policies and legislation related to environmental accessibility; institutional arrangements; training, applied research and evaluation; norms and standards; and information and outreach.4 Follow up to the seminar has focussed on practical action directed at promoting public awareness and building national capacities. Among activities undertaken by the United Nations system to date is the recent Regional Conference on Accessible Tourism for People with Disabilities (Bali, 24-28 September 2000). The secretariat of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) organized the seminar in cooperation with the Government of Indonesia and the Centre for Community-based Rehabilitation, Development and Training (Solo). In Western Asia, ESCWA is carrying out an innovative programme of outreach, training and pilot action for accessible tourism at Aley (Lebanon), which includes training for planning and design practitioners in the region. The latter two activities received co-financing support from the Development Account for the biennium 2000-2001 under project H, "Capacity building for equalization of opportunities for persons with disabilities".5
  3. In the Americas region, the Association for Promotion of Development of Persons with Disabilities (APRODDIS), in cooperation with the National Council on Social Integration of Persons with Disabilities of Peru (CONADIS) and the College of Architects of Peru, published in late 2000 a monograph, "Elimination of architectural barriers in Peru".6 APRODDIS and the Office of the Ombudsman of Peru organized seminars and training workshops on environmental accessibility issues during 2000, assisted by co-financing grants from the United Nations Voluntary Fund on Disability.
  4. Internet accessibility and persons with disabilities was the subject of a special presentation at the year 2000 national assembly of persons with disabilities in Mexico (Guanajuato, 25-28 May 2000), which was organized jointly by the Government of Mexico and the Mexican Federation of Persons with Physical and Mental Disabilities, a non-governmental organization. Meeting delegates in Guanajuato participated in an Internet-enabled collaboration with a specialist in accessibility technologies from his office in Canada.7 In light of the demonstrated capacities of accessible Internet technologies to empower persons with disabilities and enable them to exercise full and effective participation, the Government of Mexico, in cooperation with the Mexican Foundation for Social Integration, a non-governmental organization, plans to organize in the first half of 2001 at Mexico City a regional seminar on Internet accessibility and strategies to implement the Standard Rules.
  5. At the observance in 2000 of the International Day of Disabled Persons at United Nations Headquarters, the theme was "Making information technologies work for all". The observance included a briefing and multimedia presentation on issues and trends in accessible information and telecommunication technologies (ICT) for all. The theme was selected in the light of the attention directed to the role of ICT in development of "knowledge-based economies" at the substantive session of the Economic and Social Council in 2000 and the Millennium Summit of the General Assembly.

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B. Social services and sustainable livelihoods

  1. The review of progress made in implementing the outcome of the World Summit for Social Development, considered by the General Assembly at its twenty- fourth special session (Geneva, 26-30 June 2000), took note, inter alia, of the importance of universal access to social services, development of human resources and training in promoting employment opportunities and people-centred sustainable development.8 There is a well-documented relationship between investments in human resources and relative levels of development,9 and the policy guidance of the Assembly is reflected in actual practice in countries. As this pertains to social services, sustainable livelihoods and persons with disabilities, ESCWA, in accordance with its programme of work, is assisting requesting Governments to build national capacities and strengthen institutions for non- traditional employment and entrepreneurial opportunities for persons with disabilities. ESCWA, the Government of Jordan and the non-governmental Saudi Centre for Rehabilitation and Training of Arab Blind Girls (Amman) are carrying out an innovative programme of training in computer Braille. The training programme of the Centre is being assisted by co-financing grants from the Arab Gulf Programme for United Nations Development Organizations (AGFUND). An example of the multiplier effect of the programmes of the Saudi Centre is the recently initiated computer-training programme for Arab blind girls and women by the Bethlehem Society for Rehabilitation, in cooperation with the Ministry of Social Welfare of the Palestine Authority. ESCWA began in 2000 a cooperative programme with the Government of Lebanon to develop and test innovative approaches to promoting self-reliance among persons with disabilities. The Local Council for Welfare of Disabled Persons at Boujr al-Barajneh is carrying out the programme, in cooperation with the Ministry of Social Affairs. A number of community-based training workshops have been successfully carried out, and fellows have been placed in vocational training and mainstream employment opportunities.
  2. As will be discussed in detail in the paragraphs below, pilot action to promote employment opportunities and sustainable livelihoods of persons with disabilities has been one of the main areas receiving support from the United Nations Voluntary Fund on Disability. Projects have been supported in Africa, in economies in transition in Central and Eastern Europe, and in Western Asia. The project experience suggests that an appropriate policy framework and the participation of stakeholders and their families are important factors in the promotion of sustainable livelihoods for all.

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C. International norms and standards related to persons with disabilities

  1. In paragraph 3 of resolution 54/121 the General Assembly notes with appreciation the valuable work of the Special Rapporteur on Disability of the Commission for Social Development in monitoring the implementation of the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities and, in paragraph 9, urges relevant bodies and organizations of the United Nations system to promote the rights of persons with disabilities.
  2. From a substantive point of view, international norms and standards concerning persons with disabilities encompass human rights in all spheres of life: economic, social and cultural, and civil and political.10 Experiences noted during the period under review suggest that combining the resources of "traditional" human rights communities, which focus in the main on political and civil rights, and the "non- traditional" communities of interest, which focus on disability-sensitive rights at the international and regional levels could make significant contributions to a broad human rights framework to advance the rights of all. To provide a forum for exchanges on international norms and standards, the United Nations cooperated with the Equal Opportunities Commission of Hong Kong (Special Administrative Region of China), in collaboration with the Faculty of Law of the University of Hong Kong, to organize an Interregional Seminar and Symposium on International Norms and Standards relating to Disability (13-17 December 1999). The seminar and symposium brought together scholars, practitioners and representatives of the non-governmental community and made innovative and effective use of Internet- enabled resources to review and discuss issues and trends in the development and implementation of norms and standards, issues in national capacity- building for equalization of opportunities, and issues and trends in disability policy design, evaluation and the definition of "disability".11 As follow-up to the seminar and as a way to provide improved awareness of international norms and standards relating to disability, the Division for Social Policy and Development, Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat, established with the assistance of private-sector specialists a fully accessible online database on disability rights resources.12
  3. It may be recalled that at its thirty-eighth session (8-17 February 2000), the Commission for Social Development had for its consideration a comprehensive report of the Special Rapporteur on Disability on his second mission, of 1997-2000, to promote and monitor implementation of the Standard Rules (E/CN.5/2000/3, annex). Following its consideration of the report, the Commission recommended a third mandate for the Special Rapporteur - to December 2002 - which was adopted subsequently by the Economic and Social Council in resolution 2000/10 of 27 July 2000. In paragraph 7 of that resolution, the Council requested the Special Rapporteur to present his views on further developing his proposals on promoting the rights of persons with disabilities,13 on forms for complementing and developing the Standard Rules, and on how to enhance the involvement of the relevant bodies and organizations of the United Nations system and relevant intergovernmental regional organizations regarding the implementation of the Standard Rules. At its fifty-sixth session (20 March-28 April 2000), the Commission on Human Rights adopted resolution 2000/51, in which it invited the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, in cooperation with the Special Rapporteur on Disability, to examine measures to strengthen the protection and monitoring of the human rights of persons with disabilities and to solicit input and proposals from interested parties, including the panel of experts that consult with the Special Rapporteur
  4. In the light of the guidance provided by competent intergovernmental bodies and in accordance with chapter IV, "Monitoring mechanism", of the Standard Rules, the Special Rapporteur formulated a multi-year programme of work, which was circulated by the United Nations Secretariat to member States.14 The work programme is comprehensive and includes consultations with Governments, on request, as well as the non-governmental community, participation in seminars and symposia, and organization of technical exchanges. During 2000 the work of the Special Rapporteur included missions, on request, to several countries (Belarus, Brazil, Bulgaria, Hungary, Russian Federation and Uganda) and participation at two major conferences - Nineteenth World Congress of Rehabilitation International (Rio de Janeiro, 25-29 August 2000), and Sixth Congress on the Inclusion of Children with Disabilities (Edmonton, Alberta (Canada), 22-24 October 2000). A number of diverse issues have come up in the countries visited by the Special Rapporteur, but it is possible to identify certain key themes arising in the consultations. First, there are recent and very positive developments in human rights and persons with disabilities. Greater attention is being directed to incorporating disability-sensitive concerns effectively into general development policies and programmes. There also is increased awareness and concern with means to move from large institutional facilities for disabled persons, where millions of disabled children and adults spend their lives today, to community-based approaches to counselling, care and social integration.
  5. The Special Rapporteur organized an international seminar on human rights and disability from 4-10 November 2000 at Stockholm. The seminar was attended by 27 international experts, who represented the principal areas of disability and human rights concerns. The purpose of the seminar was to elaborate guidelines for identifying and reporting human rights violations and abuse against persons with disabilities and means to present those materials to competent intergovernmental and expert bodies.
  6. During 2001 the Special Rapporteur will continue to undertake missions, on request, to a number of countries, including China and two in Africa. He will also initiate work related to the development of a text of the Standard Rules in accordance with the mandate contained in Economic and Social Council resolution E/2000/10 and with reference to the substantive observations in the report on his second mission (E/CN.5/2000/3, annex). He will participate in follow- up activities outlined by the Commission on Human Rights in resolution 2000/51 and will serve as chairman of a working group on rights for disabled children, which on an informal basis assists and supports the work of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child relating to its monitoring of the situation of disabled children.

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D. Global statistics and indicators on disability

  1. In paragraph 10 of resolution 54/121, the General Assembly urged Governments to cooperate with the Statistics Division, Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat in the continued development of global statistics and indicators on disability. During the period under review the work of the Division on disability statistics focused on two broad areas: compilation and dissemination of data, and development of methods for data collection and compilation. The objectives are to improve the use of available disability data by making them more accessible to a wide set of users and to produce methodological guidelines for use by countries to improve the collection and dissemination of disability data.
  2. With regard to work on the compilation and dissemination of data, a disability statistics home page on the World Wide Web will shortly be finalized and available for public access. It is envisaged that the home page will include disability prevalence rates as well as corresponding textual information on methods used in the data collection. The underlying United Nations Disability Statistics Database (DISTAT), version 2, will be released in 2001. DISTAT-2 covers 179 studies from 100 countries in all regions of the world and contains information on disability status; persons with disability, by type of disability; and social and economic characteristics of the population with and without disability. Concerning work on methodological guidelines, Guidelines and Principles for the Development of Disability Statistics is available in a pre-publication format, on request, from the Statistics Division.15 The guidelines are aimed mainly at national statisticians and address issues of planning, collecting, processing, evaluating, tabulating and disseminating statistics on persons with disabilities in both surveys and censuses.
  3. The Statistics Division is participating in continuing tests of the International Classification of Impairments, Disability and Handicap-2 (ICIDH Beta- 2 draft).16 This activity involves the back-coding of disability survey data for Canada, France, the Netherlands, South Africa and the United States, using the recommended tabulations in Principles and Recommendations for Population and Housing Censuses (revision 1).17
  4. The Statistics Division is preparing for an International conference on disability statistics which is scheduled to take place in New York in June 2001. The conference will bring together users and producers of disability data from countries and provide a forum for discussing issues related to the measurement of disability. The conference will direct special attention to reviewing and assessing the current status of work on disability statistical methods at national and international levels, with a focus on questionnaire design; formulating an agenda for further work and research on measurement of disability; and building networks among institutions and experts, including producers and users of disability statistics, to promote increased exchanges of knowledge and experience on conceptual and methodological developments.

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E. Children with disabilities

  1. In paragraph 11 of resolution 54/121, the General Assembly also urges Governments, in collaboration with the United Nations system, to direct special attention to the rights, needs and well-being of children with disabilities and their families. The World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons18 addresses the situation of children with disabilities in both its "prevention" and its "equalization of opportunities" objectives; and general guidance is provided in the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities. Article 23 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (General Assembly resolution 44/25, annex) directs attention to the right of children with disabilities to care, access to education and training, health care and rehabilitation services, and preparation for employment and recreation opportunities.
  2. From a development perspective, in the absence of an appropriate policy framework and programme interventions, including support services, counselling and training, children and young adults with disabilities will likely become dependent disabled adults, unable to participate on the basis of equality in social life and development.
  3. During 1999 the Organization of American States (OAS) adopted the Inter-American Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities (resolution 1068 (XXIX-0/99) of 7 June 1999).19 The "Convention" provides general policy guidance on prevention and elimination of all forms of discrimination against persons with disabilities, including children with disabilities, and for promotion of full and effective integration of persons with disabilities in social life and development.
  4. In October 2000 the Ministry of Youth, Women, Children and the Family of Panama, in cooperation with the Panamanian Institute of Special Education (IPHE), organized a seminar on children with disabilities: issues and trends in development policies and programmes in the Americas region (Panama City, 16-20 October 2000).20 The seminar aimed to provide a forum for exchanges of knowledge and experience on issues and trends in policies and strategies concerning the situation of children with disabilities in the Americas region, innovative programme and project initiatives related to children with disabilities, and issues in data collection and statistics related to children with disabilities. Seminar participants included policy makers, programme managers, academics and representatives of the non-governmental community concerned with the situation of children with disabilities and their families.
  5. On the basis of an intensive programme of substantive sessions and group discussions, seminar participants formulated the Declaration of Panama, on disability as an issue of human rights,21 which provides a framework for policy options, strategies and practical action to promote equalization of opportunities and a society for all.
  6. The Tenth Ibero-American Summit of Heads of State and Government (Panama City, 17-18 November 2000) took note of the Declaration of Panama as one of the activities organized by the Ibero-American community that had contributed to the enrichment and strengthening of the Summit deliberations.22

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F. Activities of the United Nations Voluntary Fund on Disability

1. Project cycle activities: September 1999 to October 2000
  1. The review for the period of 1 September 1999 to 31 October 2000 describes project cycle activities of the Fund undertaken since the earlier review in the report of the Secretary-General to the General Assembly at its fifty-fourth session (A/54/351/Add.1).
  2. During the period, the Fund provided $763,901 in grants to 26 disability-related projects. As table 1 indicates, nearly 90 per cent of the projects supported (23/26) were carried out at the national or regional level in Africa, Asia and the Pacific, central and eastern Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, or Western Asia. Interregional activities accounted for 11.5 per cent of the projects supported and received 18 per cent of the grants disbursed, which reflects their generally larger scale and the complexity of issues addressed.
Table 1. Projects supported by the United Nations Voluntary Fund on Disability, by region, grant amount, and total budget, September 1999 to October 2000
Region Projects supported Total Budget (US$) Grants (US$)
Africa 9 456 210 175 950
Asia and the Pacific 2 97 782 45 200
Central and eastern Europe 3 237 790 56 661
Latin America and the Caribbean 6 590 664 224 200
Western Asia 3 733 500 107 000
Interregional 3 482 921 135 000
Total 26 2 598 867 763 901
  1. Table 1 indicates that Africa accounts for more than one in three of the projects supported (35 per cent) and nearly one fourth (23 per cent) of grants disbursed, which is owing to a higher percentage of small-scale national-level proposals. Nearly one in four of the projects supported (23 per cent) were in the Americas region, while Western Asia and central and eastern Europe each accounted for 12 per cent; Asia and the Pacific account for 8 per cent.
  2. The projects supported were selected from a pool of over 200 proposals received from governmental bodies and organizations and the non-governmental community (with appropriate governmental endorsement). Decisions to recommend projects for support are made by interdisciplinary review committees on substantive, financial and administrative grounds. Grant recommendations respond to General Assembly guidance on assistance to the least developed, the heavily indebted and the low-income countries, especially in Africa, and to countries in transition.
  3. Guidelines for preparing proposals for consideration by the Fund are published on the Internet. for Persons with Disability, 2 projects supported focused on both environmental accessibility and accessible information and communication technologies (ICT). Several projects reflect the growing awareness of universal design concepts and principles and seek to promote accessibility for all as both normative concern and technical design standard.
Table 2. Projects supported by the United Nations Voluntary Fund on Disability, by project agent and approved grant, 1 September 1999 to 31 October 2000.
Project agent Project supported Groants (US$)
Governmental body or organization 3 139 500
Non-governmental organization 23 624 401
   Total 26 763 901
  1. Table 2 indicates that the decided majority of the Fund-supported projects - nearly 90 per cent - were implemented by the non-governmental community, (with appropriate endorsement and the cooperation of concerned governmental bodies or organizations). As presented in the annex, non-governmental organizations continue to make important and valued contributions to equalization of opportunities by, for and with persons with disabilities by means of catalytic and innovative projects in leadership training, skill development and technology transfer.
2. Selected project experience
  1. During the period under review, the Fund focused on supporting activities that responded to priorities for action to promote equalization of opportunities for persons with disabilities identified in General Assembly resolutions 52/82 and 54/121 - namely, accessibility, social services and social safety nets, and employment and sustainable livelihoods. In support of the achievement of these priorities, projects supported can be broadly defined as having capacity-building and institutional development as their principal functions. Several projects have a significant formal training element, while others focus on technical exchanges of skills and knowledge, which also promote establishment and development of networks of excellence for disability action. Some projects involve pilot action for equalization of opportunities while others represent pilot action related to de- institutionalization of persons with disabilities.
(a) Accessibility
  1. As discussed in rule 5, "Accessibility", of the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities, 2 projecs supported focused on both environmental accessibility and accessible information and communication technologies (ICT). Several projects reflect the growing awareness of universal design concepts and principles and seek to promote accessibility for all as both normative concern and technical design standard.
  2. Internet accessibility. The role of information and communication technologies (ICT) and development were considered by both the high-level Segment of the substantive session of the Economic and Social Council in 2000 and the Millennium Summit. Building on both the substantive exchanges and policy guidance emanating from these important meetings, the Fund is supporting an initiative of the Government of Mexico, in cooperation with the non-governmental community, to organize in Mexico City in March 2001 a regional Americas seminar on Internet accessibility. The seminar will provide a forum for exchanges on Internet issues and trends in the Americas and is expected to draft a regional framework to promote accessible ICT for all.
  3. With regard to direct training for accessible ICT, the Fund assisted the Saudi Centre for Rehabilitation and Training of Arab Blind Girls (Amman) to develop and test innovative programs for training in appropriate computer skills and Internet accessibility. The Centre also received support from the Arab Gulf Programme for United Nations Development Organizations (AGFUND), in cooperation with ESCWA.
  4. Environmental accessibility. Fund support for environmental accessibility has included pilot projects concerned with technical exchanges on barrier-free design and the training of national personnel to design, manufacture and repair appropriate mobility devices.
  5. Personal choice in mobility options is an essential precondition for full and effective participation in social life and development. Technical cooperation in this area has a certain urgency since the data suggest that an estimated 20 million wheelchairs will be required by countries by the year 2020. International cooperation and charitable organizations have met less than 1 per cent of the projected need, to date. A Fund- assisted project in Ecuador resulted in new and improved capacities to produce, maintain and repair wheelchairs locally; prior to the Fund-assisted project, wheelchairs were imported or provided by charitable organizations. In Kampala, Uganda the Fund is supporting development of a wheelchair facility that is staffed by women with disabilities. The project provides technical training in wheelchair manufacturing and repair, in cooperation with Whirlwind Women International (a non-governmental organization), develops marketing skills for appropriate mobility devices, and produces wheelchairs appropriate to local conditions.
  6. Fund-assisted projects concerned with accessible shelter and urban infrastructure have focused in particular on follow-up to recommendations adopted at the International Seminar on Environmental Accessibility (Beirut, 30 November to 3 December 1999), organized by the ESCWA.23 At the request of the Southern African Federal Council on Disability (SAFCD), the Fund co-financed the International Workshop on Environmental Accessibility (Providence, RI, United States), 13-19 June 2000),24 organized in conjunction with the International Conference on Universal Design. The Workshop considered selected experience in promoting accessible environments in countries, identified priorities for technical cooperation to promote awareness and support for accessible environments and provided opportunities to establish and develop networks of excellence for environmental accessibility. The Workshop also represented a tangible initiative in support of the African Decade of Persons with Disabilities (2000-2009)25. In Peru, fund- assistance to the non-governmental organization, Asociación por Desarrollo de la Persona con Discapacidad resulted in publication on the Internet in a fully accessible format of a "guide" for environmental accessibility, based upon national laws and technical standards in Peru.26The Fund also assisted efforts of the Office of the Ombudsman of Peru to organize, in cooperation with the National College of Architecture, a national seminar on accessibility (Lima, 22 June 2000).
(b) Social services and social safety nets
  1. "Social services for all" is one of the priority themes of the Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action of the World Summit for Social Development.27 In the context of a broad human rights framework, achieving social services for all assumes special importance: social services are essential investments in the development of human potential, can further social inclusion, and promote full and effective participation on the basis of equality. People with disabilities may risk denial of the exercise of their social, cultural and economic rights and of their civil and political rights if they are not able to participate in decisions on their basic social service needs; if they lack the means to obtain those services; or if they are not consulted on ways in which the services are provided.
  2. An important issue addressed in Fund-assisted projects during the period under review has been pilot action to promote de-institutionalization of persons with disabilities. Two initiatives of the non- governmental community in central Europe focused on de-institutionalization of persons with mental disabilities in countries in transition, which were carried out in cooperation with the Central European Mental Disability Advocacy Project of the Open Society Institute (a non-governmental organization). A project in Croatia, implemented by the Association for the Promotion of Inclusion, in cooperation with the Ministry of Social Welfare, is carrying out pilot training for independent living at a day-care centre in Zagreb and by means of community outreach in Bjelovar and Osnia among mentally disabled persons. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Association for Social Inclusion of Persons with Mental Retardation, in cooperation with the Ministry of Labour, Social Policy and Refugees, is carrying out pilot training in independent living skills among adults with severe mental disabilities in Tuzla and pilot programmes in Brcko and Gradcac to integrate children with moderate to severe mental disabilities into public schools.
(c) Employment and sustainable livelihoods
  1. Employment promotion is another priority theme identified in the Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action of the World Summit for Social Development. In cooperation with ESCWA, the Fund is supporting innovative programmes to promote non- traditional employment opportunities among persons with disabilities in the region. For instance, assistance is being provided to the Saudi Centre for Rehabilitation and Training of Arab Blind Girls to provide training in computer skills for blind women and girls from the Western Asia region. A follow-up national project organized by the Bethlehem Arab Society for Rehabilitation, in cooperation with the Ministry of Social Affairs of the Palestine National Authority, is training blind girls in Braille computer skills. ESCWA is assisting the local Council for the Welfare of Disabled Persons, in cooperation with the Ministry of Social Affairs of Lebanon, to carry out a series of pilot efforts in community-based employment promotion, initially in the Burj El-Barajneh district of Beirut. The project has organized a well-received workshop on entrepreneurship for persons with disabilities and has placed fellows in a range of vocational training activities. An innovative project in employment placement in countries in transition is being carried out in Hungary by the Salva Vita Foundation, in cooperation with the Ministry of Social and Family Affairs and the Central Labour Office. The Salva Vita Foundation initiative is a response to a 1998 law on the rights of persons with disabilities in Hungary, including access to employment opportunities. The model programme of Salva Vita Foundation prepares both programme participants, their families and the workplace for gainful work. Each participant joins a job orientation session and trial work period, and permanent improvement in work-related skills is provided by means of job coaching of the employee with the disability as well as support to colleagues who work directly with the disabled person. This initiative has resulted in increased public awareness of the issue and enhanced self-reliance among persons with disabilities.
3. Fund grants as venture catalysts in promoting a "society for all"
  1. In addition to support provided for pilot action of a catalytic and innovative nature, in line with the priorities identified by the General Assembly to further equalization of opportunities for persons with disabilities, the Fund also disbursed several "venture catalyst" grants that responded to new areas of concern identified by the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council to promote a "society for all".
  2. The Fund provided three grants to support activities related to implementation of the African Decade of Persons with Disabilities (2000-2009), which included support for both an interregional and a subregional workshop on environmental accessibility and universal design, and a regional expert meeting on leadership development. The Economic and Social Council, in resolution 2000/10 of 27 July 2000, also encouraged international support for the Decade.
  3. In resolution 54/121, paragraph 11, the General Assembly urged Governments, in collaboration with the United Nations system, to give special attention to the situation of children with disabilities and their families. As discussed above (see para. 23), at the request of the Government of Panama, the Fund provided support for the regional seminar on children with disabilities. The seminar provided a forum for exchanges on policy issues and trends in the Americas region concerning children with disabilities from the development perspective.
  4. The Fund is supporting innovative efforts of the Fundación Amor y Energía (AM-EN) to train trainers, initially in Ecuador, in rehabilitation and social integration of children and young adults with disabilities. In Nepal the Fund is supporting pilot action by the Nepal Disabled Women Society to improve outreach and counselling of children with disabilities. Fund-supported initiatives to promote the social integration of children and youth with disabilities by training in information and communications technologies in Jordan and by the Palestine Authority, discussed above, are also relevant in this regard.
  5. An emerging area of concern related to the situation of children and young adults with disabilities and their families is de-institutionalization. This is particularly so in countries in transition in Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Fund-assisted pilot efforts of the non-governmental community, in cooperation with the Governments of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Hungary, to provide community-based outreach and training for social integration and independent living among young adults and children with disabilities suggest that the process of moving from institutional approaches to care and council provided by community-based services is complex. Further exchanges of knowledge and experience would be advantageous for purposes of both policy design and programme planning and evaluation.
  6. In resolution 54/121, paragraph 2, the General Assembly welcomed the initiatives of Governments to enhance the rights of persons with disabilities and to further equalization of opportunities by, for and with persons with disabilities. To that end, the Fund has provided support for Governments as well as the non- governmental community, in Mexico, Peru and in the Eastern Africa subregion, to promote awareness, to publish technical monographs and to build national capacities for accessibility both in the physical environment and with regard to information and communication technologies (ICT), the two aspects of accessibility discussed in rule 5 of the Standard Rules. Such support has been instrumental in building public awareness and support for a broad human rights approach to development. However, the experiences to date suggest that the complex process of ensuring sustainable implementation of disability-sensitive policies and programmes is only just beginning. Follow-up action is essential - particularly an observed need to support disability-sensitive policy design and evaluation and to convert disability norms, standards and legislation into practical action at national and local levels. At regional and interregional levels, technical exchanges provide opportunities for Governments to review and discuss strategies and measures to empower persons with disabilities so that they can participate on the basis of equality in decisions that concern their livelihoods and well-being, the situations of their families and the communities in which they live.
  7. By resolution 52/17 of 20 November 1997 the General Assembly proclaimed the year 2001 as the International Year of Volunteers,28 in which voluntarism by, for and with persons with disabilities is an area to be accorded special attention. In the light of the many contributions that persons with disabilities make to the societies in which they live, proposals for voluntary action, with appropriate governmental endorsement, which will further equalization of opportunities for persons with disabilities, will be considered by the Fund.

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G. Development Account for the biennium 2000-2001

  1. The Development Account has its origin in proposals submitted by the Secretary-General for renewal and reform of the United Nations.29 The "development dividend" resulting from savings in the regular budget from proposed reductions in administration and other overhead costs would be reallocated to social and economic activities with emphasis on national capacity building. By resolutions 54/249 and 54/250, of 23 December 1999, the General Assembly approved an appropriation of $13,065,000, under section 33 of the programme budget for the biennium 2000-2001, Development Account, to fund 16 projects in the economic and social sectors proposed by the Secretary-General in accordance with guidelines provided by the Assembly. One of the 16 approved projects - Project H - concerns capacity-building and institutional development for equalization of opportunities for persons with disabilities.
  2. The vision for Project H, based upon the Preamble to the Charter of the United Nations, is promoting social progress and better standards of life in greater freedom for all. The project focuses on persons with disabilities as both development agents and beneficiaries, since they often are unable to pursue full and effective participation owing to social, cultural and environmental barriers. Participation as a basic right for all has been reaffirmed at major United Nations conferences and summits.
  3. The objective of the project is to strengthen national capacities and institutional capabilities of developing countries to further equalization of opportunities by, for and with persons with disabilities for full and effective participation in social life and development.
  4. The project has three priority areas for action: (a) accessibility; (b) social services and safety nets; and (c) employment and sustainable livelihoods. The project also examines the broad framework of international norms and standards relating to disability and implications for national capacity building.
  5. During 2000 special effort was directed to the identification of partners in countries - governmental as well as non-governmental - to serve as agents in the implementation of the project. Project implementation began in earnest in the third quarter of 2000 with the co-financing of technical exchanges related to the priority theme of environmental accessibility, organized by ESCAP and ESCWA.
  6. With co-financing of Project H, ESCAP organized a regional training workshop on promotion of accessible tourism (Denpasar, Bali, 24-28 September 2000), in cooperation with the Government of Indonesia and the Community-based Rehabilitation Centre (Solo, Indonesia), a non-governmental organization. The workshop was organized parallel to the Asia-Pacific Conference on Tourism for People with Disabilities (Denpasar, Bali, 24-27 September 2000), with a view to providing a forum for exchanging knowledge and experiences in barrier-free tourism and identifying multisectoral policies and strategies to promote it. Workshop participants adopted the Bali Declaration on Barrier-free Tourism for People with Disabilities, which presents a framework for further action.30 The results of the workshop were considered by the ESCAP Committee on Transport, Communications, Tourism and Infrastructure Development at its third session (Bangkok, 15-17 November 2000) and will contribute to the full participation and equality goals of the Asian and Pacific Decade of Disabled Persons (1993-2002).
  7. In Western Asia, ESCWA, with the co-financing assistance of Project H, is carrying out, in cooperation with the Government of Lebanon (Ministry of Social Affairs), the National Council on Disability and the Aley metropolitan government, an innovative programme of applied research, subregional training, and pilot action related to building national capacities for accessible cultural sites and barrier-free tourism. During 2000-2001 ESCWA will take pilot action, using community-based approaches, to test, evaluate and develop plans and designs for selected areas of cultural and tourism significance in the Aley municipality. The results of pilot action on planning and design for environmental accessibility will be shared by means of a subregional training workshop with interested neighbouring countries and authorities where there is great interest but limited national capacities to plan, design and develop accessible and non-handicapping environments. The results will be published as technical monographs which are expected to provide guidance on concepts and approaches to planning and design of barrier-free and non-handicapping environments appropriate to conditions in Western Asia.

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FOOTNOTES:

  1. The report is available on the Internet.
  2. See General Assembly resolution 48/96, annex.
  3. SOLIDERE, Accessibility for the disabled; a design manual for a barrier-free environment (Beirut, 1998).
  4. Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, "International Seminar on Environmental Accessibility" (E/ESCWA/HS/2000/1).
  5. Information on the Development Account is available on the Internet.
  6. APRODDIS, "Erradicando las Barreras Arquitectónicas en el Per: Introducción al Diseño de Lugares Accesibles" (Lima, 2000).
  7. Reports on Internet-based distance collaboration, in English and Spanish.
  8. "Report of the Ad Hoc Committee of the Whole of the twenty-fourth special session of the General Assembly" (A/S-24/8/Rev.1), para. 14. See also "World Summit for Social Development and beyond: achieving social development for all in a globalizing world" (A/55/344).
  9. See, for instance, R. E. Lucas, "Making a miracle", Econometrica, vol. 61 (1993), pp. 251-272; Saurar Dev Bhatta and José Lobo, "Human capital and per capita product", Papers in Regional Science, vol. 79 (2000), pp. 393-411.
  10. "Overview of international legal frameworks for disability legislation".
  11. The Internet-based resources page for the seminar and symposium.
  12. See the United Nations Internet site.
  13. See E/CN.5/2000/3, annex, paras. 156-159.
  14. DESA/00/386, of 6 November 2000.
  15. The pre-publication text is available from Statistics Division, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, United Nations Secretariat, 2 United Nations Plaza, Attn. M. Mbogoni (DC2-1574), New York, NY 10017, USA.
  16. The Internet-based resources page for ICIDH-2. The "pre-final" version of ICIDH-2 (October 2000) is available only in the Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF). Since documents distributed in PDF are graphical images and require a special reader, users of assistive devices and those who have limited computer resources and/or telecommunications capacities may encounter difficulties in accessing the document. Interested parties can send PDF files to Adobe Systems for conversion into a simple hypertext markup language file (HTML) or a text file (ASCII) that can be used by screen reader programs or Braille interface devices. See Adobe's online service.
  17. United Nations publication, Sales No. E.98.XVII.8.
  18. See A/37/351/Add.1and Corr.1, annex, sect. VIII, recommendation I (IV).
  19. The original text of the Convention is available in English at the Internet site of the Organization of American States.
  20. See Resources on Children with Disabilities.
  21. See Chilfren with Disabilities Declaration.
  22. Declaración de Panamá: "Unidos por la Niñez y la Adolescencia, Base de la Justicia y la Equidad en el Nuevo Milenio" (para. 36).
  23. See "Report of the International Seminar on Environmental Accessibility, Beirut, 30 November-3 December 1999" (E/ESCWA/HS/2000/1).
  24. WorldEnable - Environmental Accessibility and Universal Design
  25. See Economic and Social Council resolution 2000/10, of 27 July 2000, para. 14.
  26. Guia de Diseño - Indice.
  27. World Summit for Social Development Agreements
  28. See World Volunteer Website
  29. "Renewing the United Nations: a programme for reform" (A/51/950).
  30. "Promotion of barrier-free tourism for people with disabilities in the Asian and Pacific region"

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