Further including persons with disabilities in development

There are 650 million persons, 10 per cent of the world’s population, with disabilities; disability could be associated with 20 per cent of the global population living in poverty. Moreover one household in every four include a person with disability which indicates that 2 billion people are directly and indirectly affected by disability worldwide

The United Nations has been working to promote disability inclusive development for the past quarter of a century. The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has provided a legal framework, an impetus and unique platform for advancement of the international disability rights agenda in development. There is growing recognition that disability is a cross-cutting issue and that the international commitment to development for all the peoples of the world hinges on making the Internationally Agreed Development Goals including the Millennium Development Goals inclusive of and accessible to persons with disabilities.

There was a rise in the number of countries ratifying the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) that was adopted by the General Assembly in 2006 and came into force in May 2008. As of 15 September, there are 91 ratifications and 146 signatories of the Convention and there is increasing demand from stakeholders, including UN country teams, governments and civil society organizations for guidance to support the implementation of the CRPD at the country level.

Recognizing these demands, the General Assembly through its resolutions 64/131 and 64/154 urged the United Nations system to make a concerted effort to integrate disability into its work. In 2009 a United Nations Development Group task team was established to develop guidelines and a toolkit to support United Nations country engagement in the implementation of the CRPD. The guidance note and accompanying appendices is now complete and was officially endorsed by the UNDG on 6 October 2010.

Below are a few examples of how the United Nations country offices’ engage at the country level to promote the rights of persons with disabilities in line with the goals and objectives of the Convention.

The 2006 Common Country Assessment for Moldova illustrates the level of exclusion faced by persons with disabilities particularly children with disabilities. For example, an estimated 16,000 children of school age have disabilities. The majority of these children do not attend school whilst an estimated 5,000 are enrolled in institutionalized care centers. Also in Moldova in 2004, there were 146,000 adults with disabilities — and of these only 14 % were employed.

As a result of UNICEF’s engagement with civil society and the government of Moldova, the situation of children with disabilities is now more visible on the national agenda.

Another example from Uganda highlights the leadership of UNDP in assisting landmine survivors. In 2008, a baseline study was conducted to establish the needs of landmine survivors. There are over 2,000 estimated victims of antipersonnel mines living in Uganda. UNDP’s project on Return and Resettlement of Landmine Victims from Internally Displaced Camps in Uganda has been effective in supporting the successful return of internally displaced landmine victims to reintegrate into their communities.

The guidance note should meet the need of Country Offices to be able to advocate for a shift from a medical to a social rights based approach to disability to ensure that disability issues and persons with disabilities be included in all aspects of their work.

For more information: http://www.un.org/disabilities/

Guidance note: http://www.undg.org/docs/11534/Disability—Guidance-note-for-UN-Country-Teams.pdf

Guidance note annexes: http://www.undg.org/docs/11534/Disability—GN-Annexes.pdf

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