Skip navigation links Sitemap | About us | FAQs

UN Programme on Disability   Working for full participation and equality

Implementation of the World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons

Report of the Secretary-General

Page 2/3 Next


I. Introduction

II. Implementation of the World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons

A. Measures undertaken by the United Nations system

1.United Nations Secretariat
2.Regional commissions of the United Nations
3.Specialized agencies
4.Technical cooperation activities
5. United Nations Voluntary Fund on Disability
6. Panel of Eminent Persons

B. Cooperation with Governments and international
non governmental organizations

III. Draft Plan of Action to implement the Long-Term Strategy to further Implementation of the World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons to the Year 2000 and Beyond

Annex. Towards a society for all: Long-term Strategy to
Implement the World Programme of Action concerning
Disabled Persons to the Year 2000 and Beyond


A. Measures undertaken by the United Nations system

 1. United Nations Secretariat

(a) Department for Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development

2. In its capacity as focal point for the United Nations programme on disabled persons, the Department has directed special attention during the period under review to furthering implementation of the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities, adopted by the General Assembly in its resolution 48/96 of 20 December 1993 (see annex), and to promotion and development of national disability committees and related coordinating bodies, pursuant to resolution 46/96 of 16 December 1991.

3. To promote and strengthen coordination of national disability policies and programmes, the Department organized a number of training seminars with financing from extrabudgetary resources. These included the regional training seminar for Eastern Europe and the Baltic States on adapting guidelines for establishment and development of national coordinating committees on disability or similar bodies (Sinaia, Romania, 20 24 September 1993), and the regional seminar for Latin America on national disability programmes (San Josť, 7 10 March 1994).

4. A major development in furthering implementation of the Standard Rules has been the designation of Mr. Bengt Lindqvist, former Minister for Social Affairs (Sweden), as Special Rapporteur for the Standard Rules. The position is being supported by voluntary contributions. The Government of Sweden has indicated that it will provide an in kind contribution; the Government of Japan has indicated that it will provide an earmarked contribution for activities of the Special Rapporteur; and Governments are also considering possible support to the Special Rapporteur.

5. Greater awareness and understanding of the Standard Rules are being promoted through their publication and distribution by the United Nations, Member States and the non governmental community. This includes publication by the United Nations of the full text of the Rules in the six official languages of the Organization, as well as in English, French and Spanish Braille. The Department of Public Information issued a brief information note on the Rules. The Rules have already been published through other sources in the following languages: Czech, Finnish, Icelandic, Japanese, Korean and Swedish.

6. The Department for Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development is directing special attention to finalizing technical reports on project planning in the disability field and disability legislation.

7. The Manual on Integration of Disability Issues into National Planning and Development Projects, prepared with a voluntary contribution from the Government of Finland, is designed to be a source of practical knowledge and information to assist Governments plan and implement policies and programmes in the disability field. The manual is scheduled to be published in 1995; it may also be incorporated in a proposed update of the Advisory Note on Disability of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

8. The Manual on Disability Legislation in Developing Countries, prepared with a voluntary contribution from the Government of Sweden, is based upon expert meetings organized during the period under review: the consultative expert meeting on national disability legislation for developing countries in the southern African subregion (Mbabane, 6 8 April 1992), the consultative expert meeting for Asia and Pacific (Kuala Lumpur, 6 8 December 1993), and the regional seminar on national disability programmes for Latin America (San Josť, 7 10 March 1994). The manual is scheduled to be published during 1995.

9. The Department provides the secretariat for three major international events occurring during the biennium 1994 1995: the International Year of the Family (1994), the World Summit for Social Development (Copenhagen, 6 12 March 1995) and the Fourth World Conference on Women: action for equality, development and peace (Beijing, 4 15 September 1995). Preparations for each event are characterized by due concern for disability issues. For instance, regional preparatory meetings organized prior to the observation in 1994 of the International Year of the Family included disability among priority issues addressed. The ad hoc secretariat for the International Year of the Family recently issued an occasional paper on "Families and disability". The draft programme of action considered the Preparatory Committee for the World Summit for Social Development at its second session (New York, 22 August 2 September 1994) directs special attention to disability in connection with the three priority themes of the Summit, social integration and employment in particular. The draft platform for action, considered by the Commission on the Status of Women at its thirty-eighth session (New York, 7 18 March 1994), acting as preparatory body for the Fourth World Conference, addresses disability with respect to areas in which gender and disability issues intersect priority Conference themes.

(b)Statistical Division, Department for Economic and Social Information and Policy Analysis

10. The Statistical Division of the Secretariat continued work on development of disability statistics in two areas: design of statistical methodology and standards for data collection; and production of statistics and indicators of disability.

11. An expert group meeting on the development of impairment, disability and handicap statistics will be organized by the Division from 7 to 11 November 1994 at Voorburg, the Netherlands, hosted by the Netherlands Central Bureau of Statistics. The meeting will review existing disability data collection methods and standards and prepare a guiding set of principles for use in census, surveys and registration systems. The meeting has been planned to coordinate with the next international meeting of the World Health Organization (WHO) on revision of the International Classification of Impairments, Disabilities and Handicaps, also to be held in the Netherlands, from 14 to 18 November 1994.

12. The Statistical Division and the North America Collaborating Centre (National Centre for Health Statistics) jointly organized an international meeting on the scientific review of applications of the International Classification (Harbour Town, Maryland, USA, 31 May-3 June 1994).

13. A disability related indicator was developed by the Division and WHO in connection with preparation of global indicators for the third monitoring of progress towards health for all, to be carried out at national level by member States: "number of people identified as having one of the following types of disabilities: difficulty seeing, difficulty hearing, difficulty speaking, difficulty moving, difficulty learning/comprehending/remembering, or other (specify)". The indicator was published in Implementation of strategies for health for all by the year 2000; third monitoring of progress common framework. 1/ A similar indicator was developed by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and WHO in collaboration with the Division to assess progress in implementing the objectives of the World Summit for Children; it is reported in Indicators for monitoring health goals of the World Summit for Children recommended by WHO and UNICEF for national monitoring, programme management and international reporting (1993).

14. The Statistical Division continued work on development and practical use of the United Nations Disability Statistics Database for production of statistics and indicators. A consultant study was prepared during 1994, entitled "A Human Development Agenda for Disability: Statistical Considerations". An extract of the findings was included in the discussion on human security in the UNDP 1994 Human Development Report. The Division contributed an article on "Disability Statistics in Studies of Ageing" to the Demographic Yearbook; special issue on ageing, 2/ that presents age- and gender specific disability data for 57 countries and discusses implications for policy formulation and programme planning. This project was supported by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). A "Statistical Chart on World Families", 3/ co financed by the Trust Fund for International Year of the Family, was compiled by the Division and includes data on the percentage of people with disabilities for 87 countries. The Division prepared with WHO a report on health statistics, the Conference of European Statisticians on the International Classification and the development of disability statistics for the Fifth Economic Commission for Europe (ECE)/WHO Joint Meeting. 4/ The Report of the International Workshop on the Development and Dissemination of Statistics on Persons with Disabilities, organized by Statistics Canada and the Division at Ottawa from 13 to 16 October 1992, is available in English and French. The Division has drafted, in collaboration with WHO, a training manual on development of disability statistics for the use of programme managers and planners, focusing on production of national disability statistics through surveys, censuses and registration systems. The manual is scheduled for publication by the United Nations in 1994 and has been co financed by the Swedish International Development Authority.

(c) United Nations Centre for Human Rights

15. The World Conference on Human Rights, held at Vienna from 14 to 25 June 1993, reaffirmed in its Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action that all human rights and fundamental freedoms were universal and thus unreservedly included people with disabilities. The Commission on Human Rights and the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights have been encouraged to pay due attention to the promotion and protection of human rights of persons with disabilities. Resolution 1994/27 of the Commission on Human Rights reaffirmed its commitment to ensuring the rights of persons with disabilities.

(d) United Nations Development Programme

16. Through its Interregional Project for Disabled People, which focuses on community based rehabilitation for people with disabilities, UNDP produced and published the following documents: "Prejudice and Dignity: an introduction to community based rehabilitation" (1993), and "OMAR in Rehabilitation: a guide on operations monitoring and analysis of results" and "Play with your children" (Africa version, 1994). The project also conducted training seminars and workshops in India, Finland, and Switzerland in 1994.

17. IMPACT, the International Initiative Against Avoidable Disablement, a joint initiative of UNDP, UNICEF and WHO, focuses on promotion of integrated approaches to strengthening the health and development sectors at the community level to prevent avoidable disabilities and aims to reduce and, when possible, eliminate causes and incidences of disabling conditions or accidents. During 1993 the director of the India IMPACT Foundation was awarded the Department of Public Information Grand Award in recognition of her contributions to the development and operational success of "Lifeline Express", which is a joint public and private sector initiative in using trains to bring needed medical care, such as immunization, diagnostic services and surgery for disabling conditions, to rural villages. An IMPACT pilot project in Mali on eradication of the guinea worm provides an example of the importance IMPACT attaches to community participation in the implementation of preventive interventions.

(e) United Nations Children's Fund

18. UNICEF is currently engaged in implementation of its mid term plan for childhood disability (1994 1997), which focuses on (a) consolidation of preventive measures such as immunization and the control of micro nutrient deficiencies; (b) establishing systems to facilitate early detection of disabilities; and (c) supporting community based rehabilitation as an integral part of basic services.

19. UNICEF reports that 70 countries, including 56 developing countries, have included programmes on prevention of disability, early detection and community based rehabilitation services for children who are disabled. In addition, the Convention on the Rights of Children, which in its article 23 refers to rights of children with disabilities, has been ratified by more than 150 countries.

20. UNICEF has called for a total ban on the production, use, stockpiling as well as the sale and export of anti personnel land mines, a major cause of disablement both in times of armed conflict and in reconstruction efforts.

(f)United Nations Refugee and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East

21. UNRWA has taken a number of initiatives in the field of disability, including community based services for disabled persons in its area of operations, through community rehabilitation centres and health programmes aimed at preventing disabling illness and conditions. UNRWA reports that poliomyelitis is virtually eradicated among Palestinian refugee children. UNRWA has set a target for 2 per cent of new staff recruitment to be drawn from appropriately qualified disabled persons. In the light of recent political developments, UNRWA intends to direct special attention to building capacities of the Palestinian people to plan and manage sustainable services for disabled persons, and to effective integration of disabled persons, in the educational, social and economic sectors.

2. Regional commissions of the United Nations

(a) Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific

22. Several member Governments of ESCAP have contributed to establishment of a trust fund to promote the Asian and Pacific Decade of Disabled Persons (1993 2002). The Asia Pacific Inter organizational Task Force on Disability related Concerns, composed of United Nations agencies and non governmental organizations concerned with disability, has expanded its membership and provided support to the implementation of its "Agenda for Action".

23. Regional action is emphasizing strengthening of self help organizations of people with disabilities, promotion of non handicapping environments, facilitating regional cooperation on production of low cost, high quality technical aids, poverty alleviation among rural people with disabilities and enactment of disability legislation. To that end, during the United Nations Decade (1983 1992) ESCAP organized training workshops on management of self help organizations of people with disabilities, carried out surveys, prepared technical guidelines on improving access to the built environment in developing countries of the ESCAP region and collaborated with non governmental organizations in convening regional conferences of non governmental organizations to promote the Asia Pacific Decade. In 1993 ESCAP published a compendium of reference material on the Decade, "Asian and Pacific Decade of Disabled Persons, 1993 2002: the starting point".

(b) Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia

24. ESCWA is revising the draft regional long term strategy to further the implementation of the World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons, formulated during the substantive session of the 1992 cultural event for disabled persons in the ESCWA region (Amman, 17 and 18 October 1992).

25. In October 1993, ESCWA co organized, with the University Rehabilitation Institute at Ljubljana, the International Society for Prosthetics and Orthotics and the Government of Jordan, a workshop for key medical and technical personnel in prosthetics and orthotics for the Western Asia and Eastern Mediterranean region (Amman, 8 15 October 1993).

26. In conjunction with ongoing reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts in the war torn areas of the region, ESCWA designated a specialist in "barrier free" design to assist efforts in Lebanon.

27. ESCWA, in collaboration with UNICEF and interested non governmental organizations, will organize a regional seminar on the role of the family in integrating disabled women into society (Amman, 16 18 October 1994). The seminar will provide a forum to discuss and assess the nature and situation of disabled Arab women and their children and the level of their social integration. The seminar is expected to strengthen the ESCWA regional inter agency task force on disability, first established in 1989.

(c) Economic Commission for Europe

28. ECE is compiling a final review publication of its project on rehabilitation engineering, which is based upon workshops in the United States of America, Norway and the Czech Republic. The project objective was to bring together designers, manufacturers, rehabilitation experts and users to identify and analyse the status of rehabilitation services, provision of technical aids and assistive technologies, and development of market potential for rehabilitation. Closer international cooperation in the field was recommended, especially with Central and Eastern European countries in transition. The ECE Inland Transport Committee collected and analysed information provided by member States on measures adopted to facilitate mobility of disabled persons; and amendments to the Convention on Road Traffic have been prepared. In the field of human settlements and housing, ECE has undertaken a project on the status and conditions of the elderly and of persons with disabilities in the ECE region.

Return to top

Home | Sitemap | About us | News | FAQs | Contact us

© United Nations, 2003-04
Department of Economic and Social Affairs
Division for Social Policy and Development