UN Secretary-General underlines rights of persons with Down syndrome

World Down Syndrome Day

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today urged the world to reaffirm that persons with Down syndrome are entitled to the full enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms, deploring the stigma and discrimination they continue to face.

“For too long, persons with Down syndrome, including children, have been left on the margins of society,” said the Secretary-General in a message to mark the first World Down Syndrome Day. “In many countries, they continue to face stigma and discrimination as well as legal, attitudinal and environmental barriers that hinder their participation in their communities.”

He noted that the discrimination can be as invidious as forced sterilization, and as subtle as segregation and isolation through both physical and social barriers.

Persons with Down syndrome are often denied the right to equal recognition before the law, as well as the right to vote or be elected.

“Intellectual impairments have also been seen as legitimate grounds for depriving persons with Down syndrome of their liberty, and for holding them in specialized institutions, sometimes for their entire lives,” said Mr. Ban.

The prejudice that children with Down syndrome obstruct the education of others has led some parents of children with intellectual disabilities to put their children in special schools or keep them at home.

“Yet research shows – and more people are coming to understand – that diversity in the classroom leads to learning and understanding that benefit all children,” said the Secretary-General.

He pointed out that the United Nations has for decades worked to ensure the well-being and human rights of all people and that those efforts were strengthened by the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2006.

That Convention “embodies a paradigm shift in which persons with disabilities are no longer regarded as objects of charity and welfare, but as persons with equal rights and dignity who can make an enormous contribution to society in their own right.”

“Let us each do our part to enable children and persons with Down syndrome to participate fully in the development and life of their societies on an equal basis with others. Let us build an inclusive society for all,” said Mr. Ban.

He praised the global partnership of governments, activists, families, professionals and others who worked tirelessly and passionately to bring the Day into existence.

Source: UN News Centre

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