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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**
A/56/169

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Contents

I. Introduction

II. Overview of recent policy and programme activities

III. Progress in equalization of opportunities by, for and with persons with disabilities

IV. Regional cooperation for equalization of opportunities

V. Perspective framework for the fourth review and appraisal and emerging issues

Annex
Projects supported by the United Nations Voluntary Fund on Disability for the period November 2000-June 2001

V. Perspective framework for the fourth review and appraisal and emerging issues

81. As discussed in the interim report to the thirty-ninth session of the Commission for Social Development, the fourth review and appraisal of implementation of the World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons will mark the twentieth year of international cooperation to implement that instrument, as well as the tenth year since the end of the United Nations Decade of Disabled Persons, 1983-1992.

82. On the basis of guidance provided by General Assembly resolution 52/82, the Secretary-General would anticipate that the fourth review and appraisal will evaluate the extent to which structures are in place to implement the World Programme in the context of development. To the extent that these structures are not in place, the next critical question is how are these structures to be established. It is envisaged at least five critical aspects of such structures will be reviewed and appraised:

(a) First, the extent to which countries have specific policies and programmes designed to facilitate both community-based rehabilitation programmes and the equalization of opportunities for persons with disabilities is important. For instance, the third review and appraisal (A/52/351) documented the fact that, since the adoption by the General Assembly of the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities in 1993, 85 per cent of countries reported the existence of a national disability policy.38 The next review will ascertain whether this percentage has risen since 1997. The review will examine the implementation and practical application of norms and standards, as well as issues related to international law, such as the feasibility of a new international instrument on the rights of persons with disabilities;

(b) Second, separate from policies and programmes specifically targeted at persons with disabilities, inclusion of the disability perspective in policies and programmes designed to foster social and economic development is critical. The third review and appraisal revealed that out of 83 countries reporting, roughly two thirds indicated they had passed specific amendments referring to disabled persons’ rights within general legislation, while 10 countries offered protection for the disabled only under special legislation. An increase in this number shows that the legislative mechanisms of countries are becoming models for inclusion of people with disabilities in all facets of life. At its thirty-eighth session, the Commission for Social Development, following its consideration of the second monitoring report of the Special Rapporteur on Disability on implementation of the Standard Rules, recommended that the Secretary-General "reinforce the disability dimension in mainstream technical cooperation activities", a fact which demonstrates the importance of this aspect in providing accessibility for all;39

(c) Third, the World Programme of Action states that specific criteria for evaluation of progress towards full participation and equality need to be elaborated, with periodic monitoring at the international, national and regional levels. Monitoring refers to the practice of setting goals and objectives and then establishing evaluation criteria to determine whether the goals and objectives have been achieved.40 It is envisaged that the fourth review and appraisal will assess the extent to which countries have established specific goals and objectives for policies and programmes aimed at equalization of opportunities and criteria for evaluating progress towards those goals and objectives;

(d) Fourth, countries need to gather data periodically based on those evaluation criteria, thus providing a means of measuring such criteria. Indicators are those data elements that are believed to provide the best measures of progress. For instance, countries can establish target goals for education and employment related to gaps between people with and without disabilities. Progress made by Governments towards the establishment of specific and verifiable indicators to meet goals and objectives will be addressed;

(e) Finally, progress is being made in the development of periodic monitoring systems to obtain these indicators. The third review and appraisal demonstrated that, in the four census rounds between 1960 and 1990, the number of countries including disability questions in their census grew from 3 to 84.41 Progress in including disability questions in the 2000 census round as well as in surveys will be assessed.

83. In accordance with the World Programme of Action and with Rules 5, 6, 7 and 8 of the Standard Rules (Accessibility, Education, Employment and Income Maintenance and Social Security, respectively), the General Assembly encouraged Governments to focus on accessibility, health, social services, rehabilitation, employment and sustainable livelihoods as priorities for action to further equalization of opportunities.42 With this emphasis, the five critical aspects of implementation structures will be examined for the target areas for participation, as mentioned in the Standard Rules. Thus, the existence of disability-specific policies and the incorporation of the disability perspective into mainstream policies related to each rule will be assessed, as will the implementation of monitoring, indicators and data gathering structures relevant to each rule. The issues of data and statistics on disability, highlighted in the earlier section of the current report, will also be addressed. Progress to harmonize disability definitions and to measure the components of accessibility will be examined.

84. Just as the specific target areas will be assessed, their applicability to specific vulnerable populations such as women, children, persons in poverty and persons with mental health issues will be evaluated. At its thirty-eighth session, the Commission for Social Development urged that Governments, intergovernmental organizations and NGOs place special emphasis on "... the human rights of persons with disabilities, children with disabilities and their families, gender aspects, in particular the issue of discrimination against girls and women with disabilities, and the situation of persons with developmental and psychiatric disabilities, with a focus on integrating such persons into society."43 Accordingly, the fourth review and appraisal will consider disability issues for women and for a number of social groups, such as persons living in poverty, ageing populations and children. The report, however, will also consider populations comprising what has been called the "new universe of disability" — persons with mental health issues and those with active, acute conditions.44

85. Emerging issues related to medical research and disability may also be considered in the planned fourth review and appraisal. For instance, traditionally disability advocates have focused on serving persons with a particular identifiable infirmity, such as Usher’s Syndrome. As more information about genetics becomes known, other issues are emerging, including genetic susceptibility to disability-related conditions, privacy and ethical issues.

86. The fourth review and appraisal will examine the context of demographic, economic, social and technological trends that have occurred since the end of the United Nations Decade of Disabled Persons, in the light of data emerging from the 2000 census round. Some of the trends to be examined include: a general worldwide movement towards adoption of Internet technologies; adoption by several countries, particularly in Central and Eastern Europe, of market-oriented economies; increasing awareness and concern over the environment; a general move towards accountability for results in governmental programmes; and global ageing.

87. On the basis of currently available data, it is expected that the fourth review and appraisal will highlight several important developments in the field of disability at regional and interregional levels:

(a) Identification in General Assembly resolutions 52/82 and 54/121 of specific priorities for action to further equalization of opportunities, in the light of findings of the third review and appraisal (A/52/351);

(b) Active promotion and increased use of state-of-the-art and accessible communications technologies for distance collaboration, for instance during the first Latin American Seminar on Internet Accessibility (Mexico City, 4-7 June 2001);

(c) Successful completion of the Asian and Pacific Decade of Disabled Persons (1992-2002) and initiation of the African Decade for Disabled Persons (2000-2009);

(d) Adoption by the World Health Assembly of a new International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICIDH-2) in May 2001;

(e) Improved harmonization of monitoring efforts, as witnessed in recommendations of the United Nations Statistical Division on disability-related questions for the 2000 round of censuses and the treatment of data and classification issues at the "International Seminar on the Measurement of Disability (United Nations, 4-6 June 2001).

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Notes

** The present report contains responses from States as at 6 July 2001, the deadline set on the note verbale on the subject, dated 15 June 2001

38 A/52/351, para. 27.

39 Economic and Social Council resolution 2000/10.

40 Basic parameters for indicators established the World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Personshttp://www.un.org/esa/socdev/enable/dpb19992d.htm.

41 A/52/351, para. 45.

42 Resolution 54/121 of 17 December 1999, para. 4.

43 Economic and Social Council resolution 2000/10, para. 4.

44 E/CN.5/2001/7, para. 72.

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Annex

Projects supported by the United Nations Voluntary Fund on Disability

1 November 2000 to 30 June 2001, by region

A. Africa

1. People with Disabilities, in cooperation with the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development: development and testing of innovative social services for children with disabilities and their families, Kampala and Mpigi districts (Uganda)

2. Society of Abilities for the Disabled, in cooperation with the Ministry of Education and the Arab Gulf Programme for United Nations Development Organizations (AGFUND): integrated school for the disabled, Kampala

B. Central and Eastern Europe

1. Soteria Foundation, in cooperation with the Ministry of Social Affairs: Day-care centre service for people with mental health disorders, Budapest (Hungary)

2. Institute for Social Policy, in cooperation with the Ministry of Education: social inclusion of children with disabilities through the establishment of a pilot centre for integrated education, Smolyan (Bulgaria)

3. Albania Disability Rights Foundation, in cooperation with the Ministry of Education: the promotion of inclusive education for children with disabilities, Durres (Albania)

4. Institute for Rehabilitation, in cooperation with the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport and the Association for the Advancement of Assistive Technology in Europe: Central and Eastern European subregional workshop on "Internet Accessibility for All" (Ljubljana, 3-6 September 2001)

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