Mr. Wu Hongbo Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs

Remarks at the Opening of the Fifth Session of the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Ambassador Marten Grunditz,
Vice President Mr. Lenin Moreno,
Distinguished Delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen, 

Last month, at the Summer Olympics in London, Oscar Pistorius, a 400-meter runner from South Africa, made history by competing in the 400 meter semifinals, despite his disability.

Six other athletes with disabilities also competed in London.  The success of these athletes bears testimony to the triumph of human spirit and courage.  They are our heroes.

Hundreds and thousands of persons with disabilities have overcome numerous obstacles to live productive lives and contribute to the wellbeing of our societies.

I come to this hall, at once humbled and inspired.

I am humbled by the courage of those persons with disabilities, who have made a difference to society, by relying on nothing else but their resolve and determination.

I am also inspired by their stories – stories of indomitable spirit, of never giving up.

I see in this hall, right in front of us, delegates and participants with disabilities, who have come here to make their voices heard and to make a difference.

To these delegates and participants, and to all other participants who are here in support of their cause, it is my great honour and pleasure to extend a warm welcome on behalf of the United Nations.

The fifth session of the Conference of States Parties will focus on key issues that are critical for inclusive development, including the transformative impact of technologies on accessibility. 

We are pleased to see that the Conference will also highlight children with disabilities.

Let us not forget that children are our future. Today’s investment in children with disabilities is tomorrow’s progress for all of us.

Distinguished delegates,

As we gather here today, we have much to celebrate. 

Over the past decades, thanks to your commitments and the efforts of millions of others, we have made much progress in improving the lives of persons with disabilities. We have strengthened international legal instruments, as embodied by this Convention.

Governments have adopted empowerment measures, facilitating the integration and participation of persons with disabilities in economic and social activities. 

Many businesses have responded to the calls of the United Nations and civil society by giving equal opportunities to persons with disabilities.

Indeed, in a recent survey of small- and medium-sized enterprises, over 90 percent of managers state that persons with disabilities perform well in managerial positions.

Yet, despite the many advances, there remains a gap between the aspirations and the daily experiences of persons with disabilities.

Still today, persons with disabilities are much more likely to live in poverty, facing multiple barriers.

Many continue to lack access to social services and employment. 

Let us be clear – there will be no development when people with disabilities are without equal opportunities. 

Development cannot be inclusive and sustainable when more than one billion persons with disabilities face the risk of exclusion.

That is why we are encouraged by the results of Rio+20.  The outcome document – “The future we want” – underscores the importance of accessibility in strategies for sustainable development.

The 2013 General Assembly High-level Meeting on Disability and Development – only a year away – will build on Rio+20 and renew our commitment to persons with disabilities.

With the deadline to achieve the Millennium Development Goals only three years away, you have a historic opportunity to promote a disability-inclusive post-2015 development agenda.

Distinguished Delegates, 

To date, there are 153 signatories and 119 ratifications of the Convention.  Many countries are now well into the implementation stage of the Convention. 

The Conference of States Parties has by now become a unique global forum to share new ideas and experiences, to promote good practices, and to translate the goals and objectives of the Convention into a reality.

Persons with disabilities and their communities deserve no less.

Let me conclude by thanking you all again for your dedication and hard work in support of persons with disabilities.

Please accept my best wishes for a successful conference. 

Thank you.