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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

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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

 3.  Specialized agencies

(a) International Labour Organization

29. ILO activities in the disability field focus on promotion of equal training and employment opportunities for people with disabilities. ILO Convention No. 159 on Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment of Disabled Persons, the main tool in this area, has been ratified by 48 countries.

30. Thirty one technical cooperation projects currently are being implemented by ILO in this area, of which some are being undertaken in cooperation with other United Nations bodies and organizations. ILO has published a guide for employers' organizations and a guide for workers' organizations on job creation for disabled people. ILO also published a guide for specialists working in its multidisciplinary teams on inclusion of disability issues in the advisory and training activities of the team.

31. In connection with its seventy-fifth anniversary, in 1994, ILO issued two publications in the disability field: "Towards Equalizing Opportunities for Disabled People in Asia: Guide", and "Disability Employment in Asia". The guide is a product of a consultative workshop organized by the ILO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific and the ILO East Asia Multidisciplinary Advisory Team; it describes changes taking place in Asia and worldwide, suggests policy targets, describes a range of alternative strategies, including relative strengths and weaknesses, and underlines the goal of the equality of opportunity of people with disabilities. The second publication aims to promote awareness of the disability situation in the region and provide guidelines on disability and employment issues.

(b) Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations

32. FAO has ongoing vitamin A deficiency projects in a number of developing countries, including Burkina Faso, Ghana, India, Nepal, Nigeria and Viet Nam; possible expansion to other countries is under review. FAO reports that schemes to settle people who were formerly threatened with river blindness has been proceeding satisfactorily; many people are now returning or moving to the lands, estimated at 25 million hectares, that have been freed from the threat of oncocerciasis.

33. The 1992 International Conference on Nutrition produced the World Declaration and Plan of Action for Nutrition, which inspired Governments to take the initiative for the elaboration of a national action plan, including specific activities for disabled persons. Integration of disabled persons as beneficiaries of national development projects for high value horticulture crops has been a feature of programmes under implementation in Uganda and Bangladesh. FAO also provides technical assistance to train disabled groups in the production of fruit and vegetables in India.

(c) United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

34. UNESCO cooperated with the Government of Spain to organize the World Conference on Special Needs Education: Access and Quality (Salamanca, 7 10 June 1994). The Conference considered new thinking on learning disabilities and on the relationship between special education provision and general school reform.

(d) World Health Organization

35. WHO continued its efforts to promote the strengthening of rehabilitation services through community based services and health care referral services. During the period under review, 34 countries benefited from WHO workshops focusing on disability issues. Fourteen countries received direct assistance for programme planning, monitoring or evaluation. Guidelines for management, training and selected rehabilitation interventions have been prepared and are available.

36. WHO prepared, in cooperation with ILO and UNESCO, a joint position paper on the concept of community based rehabilitation to inform policy makers and programme managers on its objectives and methods for implementation.

4. Technical cooperation activities

37. In its resolution 48/99, the General Assembly urged Governments to integrate disability concerns in technical cooperation activities, including exchanges of knowledge and experience. This has been considered in the preceding paragraphs. In addition, the United Nations Secretariat, in cooperation with the Government of the Netherlands and the World Veterans Federation, a non governmental organization, organized on request an advisory mission to Belarus in January 1993. The mission focused on disability policy formulation, legislation, services, training and programme coordination. The mission assisted in analyses of the current situation of disabled persons, in identification of priorities for policy formulation and in formulation of options for short- and long term action. An ad hoc advisory mission was undertaken to South Africa in October 1993 at the request of Government, the African National Congress and the National Council for the Physically Disabled. Consultations focused on national disability programmes and implementation of the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities.

5. United Nations Voluntary Fund on Disability

38. Pursuant to General Assembly resolution 47/88 of 16 December 1992, special attention was directed to building national capacities and expanding technical exchanges among developing countries to further implementation of the development objectives of the World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons.

39. During the period under review the Fund received more than 100 inquiries about possibilities of obtaining technical and financial assistance in the disability field. Inquiries came in the main from the non governmental community, which reflects the growing sense of empowerment among organizations of people with disabilities. Proposals received are reviewed by substantive specialists, whose appraisals are provided to all parties concerned with the proposal. Funding recommendations are prepared for activities that reflect most closely priorities identified for the Fund by the General Assembly. Proposals from non governmental organizations require endorsement of the concerned governmental office.

40. Table 1 indicates that 11 of the 12 proposals approved for funding during 1993 supported specific action benefiting people with disabilities at national and regional levels. This involved a resource commitment by the Fund of $160,120. Of that total, $57,520 (36 per cent) was provided in the form of co financing grants from the Arab Gulf Programme for United Nations Development Organizations (AGFUND) under its cooperative programme with the Fund. Co financing grants from AGFUND now total more than $1 million and AGFUND remains the single largest contributor to the Fund. It should be noted that, consistent with the Fund mandate, each $1 granted by the Fund helps to mobilize on average an additional $4 for action in the disability field.

Table 1. Distribution of grants for 1993, by region
Grant amount Total budget
Region Number of grants United States dollars
Africa 2 18 000 49 100
Asia and the Pacific 3 35 600 361 805
Latin America and the
Caribbean 2 21 000 58 100
Western Asia 4 75 520 267 500
Interregional 1 10 000 47 000
Total 12 160 120 783 315

41. Table 2 provides a list of Fund assisted activities approved during 1993. More than half are concerned with training and institution building, including two projects co financed with AGFUND. Two projects focused on improving the flow of information on disability issues and concerns of peoples with disabilities. Support was also provided for NGO initiatives in income generation in rural Zambia and in sports for people with disabilities in Western Asia. The Fund assisted initiative of the Alvarez International Centre on Ageing, in the Dominican Republic, focuses on increasing the involvement of older persons in the organization and delivery of essential services among rural people with disabilities.

Table 2. Projects approved in 1993

Project title
Dominican Republic Survey and seminar on self-help networks of older disabled persons
India Woodwork training for the deaf
Interregional World Federation of the Deaf: preparation of an organization manual
Lebanon Al-Amal Institute for Mentally Handicapped Children (phase II) a/


Training leaders of the Eastern Africa Federation of the Disabled
Asia and Pacific Training instructors in oesophogeal speaking
Asia and Pacific Support for initiatives of developing countries in education of the deaf/blind
Western Asia Arab regional summer games for people with disabilities
Western Asia Regional seminar on disabled women
Western Asia Workshop for key medical and technical personnel in prosthetics and orthotics
Trinidad and Tobago Production of a career booklet on people with disabilities
Zambia Self-help project for the disabled at Kasama

a/ Co-financed by AGFUND: $26,550.

42. The review of project cycle activities in 1993 indicates that the Fund plays a unique role both in furthering implementation of policies and programmes of benefit to persons with disabilities and in supporting efforts by disabled people to strengthen negotiating capacities for policy design, programme planning and project implementation. The data suggest that seed money grants of the Fund are instrumental in mobilizing resources not otherwise available for action of benefit to people with disabilities. The increased involvement of organizations of disabled people in cooperation with government reflects growing public private voluntary sector partnership for action in the disability field.

6. Panel of Eminent Persons

43. In its resolution 48/99, the General Assembly requests the Secretary General to pursue his efforts to establish a panel of persons with wide experience in the field of disability to advise him on disability matters. In that connection it might be recalled that chapter IV, "Monitoring mechanism", of the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities, adopted by the General Assembly in its resolution 48/96, refers to the establishment of a panel of experts from among international organizations of persons with disabilities to be consulted by the Special Rapporteur for the Rules and when appropriate the Secretariat. In conjunction with the designation of Mr. B. Lindqvist as Special Rapporteur, representatives of organizations of disabled persons met at Headquarters (20 and 21 August 1994) to review and discuss his programme of work and took a decision on a framework for the expert panel envisaged in the Standard Rules. In the light of those developments further study is required of experience gained in such a manner of providing expert advice in the disability field to the Special Rapporteur and to the Secretariat.

B. Cooperation with Governments and international non governmental organizations

44. In its resolution 1993/20, the Economic and Social Council requests that the draft plan of action to implement a long term strategy to further implementation of the World Programme of Action be developed in consultation with international non governmental organizations of persons with disabilities. In fact the non governmental community, in cooperation with Governments concerned, made important contributions to furthering implementation of the World Programme itself during the period under review.

45. The Secretariat collaborated with the Government of Iceland, the Icelandic National Federation of Persons with Disabilities and the Icelandic Organization of Disabled Persons to organize an international conference entitled "Beyond normalization; towards 'One Society for All'" (Reykjavik, 1 3 June 1994). The meeting was attended by 700 participants, had substantive sessions dealing with such issues as national disability legislation and international cooperation, and adopted the Reyjkavik Declaration in support of the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities and the work of the Special Rapporteur for the Standard Rules.

46. The World Veterans Federation organized its Sixth International Conference on Legislation Concerning Veterans and Victims of War at Lisbon from 13 to 16 March 1994. The Conference was sponsored by the Government of Portugal and was attended by representatives of 41 countries and observers from both the United Nations and 15 additional countries. The Conference adopted a series of recommendations, which included international cooperation in the field of prosthetic and orthotic devices, on the situation and welfare of war disabled persons and their families, and on assistance to civilian victims of war.

47. Major upcoming events of international non governmental organizations in the disability field include the Assembly and Sixth European Regional Conference of Rehabilitation International (Budapest, 4 9 September 1994); the Eleventh World Congress of the International League of Societies for Persons with Mental Handicap (New Delhi, 17-20 November 1994); the First World Assembly (and Fourth World Congress) of Disabled Peoples' International (Sydney, Australia, 1 11 December 1994); and the Twelfth World Congress of the World Federation of the Deaf (Vienna, 6 15 July 1995).

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