Marking the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for action to bridge the gap between well-meaning commitments and long-overdue actions for more than one billion persons with disabilities, representing about 15 per cent of the world’s population.
“Our challenge is to provide all people with the equality of access they need and deserve,” said the UN chief, in his message for the Day. “As negotiators at this year’s “Rio+20” United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development agreed, accessibility is critical to achieve the future we want.”
The theme of this year’s commemoration is “Removing barriers to create an inclusive and accessible society for all”. Barriers can take a variety of forms, including those relating to lack of accessibility in the physical environment and of information and communications technologies, as well as those resulting from legislation or policy, or from societal attitudes and discrimination.
This International Day of Persons with Disabilities marks the official opening of preparations for a High-level Meeting of the General Assembly on disability and development in September 2013. This gathering will take place as the international community works to forge a post-2015 development agenda, presenting an opportunity to ensure that the rights, concerns and contributions of persons with disabilities are fully taken into account.
In his message, the Secretary-General also reminded the international community of the need to work together to achieve the goals of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: to eliminate discrimination and exclusion, and to create societies that value diversity and inclusion. As of November 2012, 126 countries had ratified the Convention, representing two thirds of Member States.
As part of the commemorative activities for the Day, the third annual United Nations Enable Film Festival will be held at UN Headquarters in New York.