What a joyous occasion this is as we gather at the United Nations to celebrate the entry into force of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol.
The Convention is not only the first comprehensive human rights treaty of the 21st century; it has a strong development dimension. It was also negotiated and entered into force in record time.
This is not because the job was easy. Many challenges and obstacles had to be overcome once the disability community, itself, launched the bold initiative to push for a specific treaty that would recognize their rights.
It is my great honour to be able to welcome many of these leaders here today.
Confronting challenges and obstacles is a daily experience for persons with disabilities, who represent a large proportion of the human family. Indeed, they are more likely than their peers to encounter the pernicious force of exclusion in fundamental aspects of human life: getting an education; getting a job, and an equal chance to earn a decent living and to contribute; getting access to healthcare; simply getting around in their communities; and getting the basic respect that every human person deserves.
The enjoyment of all human rights by all members of society, including the full participation of persons with disabilities in society and development, goes to the very heart of our mission at the United Nations and the Department of Economic and Social Affairs.
Using the framework of the Convention, we urgently need to secure the participation of persons with disabilities in all aspects of society and development, and to develop effective policies and strategies to integrate their needs and concerns into the mainstream of all development processes.
This would amount to a “triple win” for democracy, development and human rights. We need to make full use of the synergy between the development and human rights communities to support this great endeavour.
As far as we have travelled to reach this happy day, now is not the time to rest. The balance of effort lies ahead, as we work, with all members of the international community, towards accelerating implementation of the Convention.
Let us work hard, in concert and with confidence, drawn from the quiet courage and perseverance of persons with disabilities around the world.
Let us determine anew to create a just and equitable society for all.