Implementation of the
Implementation of the World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons
III. Regional cooperation for equalization of opportunities
57. In resolution E/2000/10, the Economic and Social Council encouraged international support for the African Decade of Disabled People to promote equalization of opportunities by, for and with persons with disabilities and to promote and protect human rights.
58. The member States of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) decided at the OAU summit (Algiers, 12-14 July 1999) to proclaim an African Decade of Disabled People (2000-2009). The African Decade represents an innovative partnership between Governments and the non-governmental community to put disability on the development agenda of Africa. The African Rehabilitation Institute (ARI) and the Pan African Federation of the Disabled (PAFOD), non- governmental organizations, are active in Decade activities, in close consultation with interested Governments. Subregional affiliates of PAFOD in all parts of Africa and other interested organizations of persons with disabilities are also engaged in Decade activities.
59. Three Decade-related substantive activities have been supported to date by grants from the United Nations Voluntary Fund on Disability. Two have been successfully implemented:
(a) International Workshop on Environmental Accessibility and Universal Design in Developing Countries, organized by the Southern Africa Federal Council on Disability, in collaboration with the Universal Design Center (Boston, MA) and in conjunction with the International Conference on Designing for the 21st Century (Providence, RI, United States, 14-18 June 2000); 31
(b) Eastern Africa Regional Workshop on Application of Universal Design Concepts and Principles and Information Technologies to the Africa Decade of Disabled Persons (Nairobi, 6-10 November 2000), organized by the Eastern Africa Federation of the Disabled (EAFOD), in cooperation with the Government of Kenya (Department of Social Services) and United Disabled Persons of Kenya. The third activity is the Consultative Meeting on Leadership Training in Support of the Africa Decade of Disabled Persons (Nairobi, fourth quarter, 2000), organized by the Pan African Federation of the Disabled (PAFOD), in cooperation with the Government of Kenya (Department of Social Services) and United Disabled Persons of Kenya. Significantly, the first Decade- related activity focused on an interregional exchange of knowledge and experience in the planning and development of accessible environments, which leveraged the considerable experience of African specialists in both the technical and community- participation aspects of promoting environmental accessibility for all. An immediate result of the International Workshop was the second project, the Eastern Africa workshop. A Pan-Africa leadership development meeting was recently rescheduled for technical reasons. The results of the meeting will be presented in the relevant report of the Secretary- General to the General Assembly at its fifty-sixth session (2001).
60. By resolution 48/3 member States of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific proclaimed the Asian and Pacific Decade of Disabled Persons, 1993-2002, with the goal of full participation and equality of persons with disabilities. 32
61. The secretariat of ESCAP organized the regional forum, Meeting the Targets for the Asian and Pacific Decade of Disabled Persons, and Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities in the ESCAP Region (Bangkok, 15-19 November 1999), which brought together senior officials responsible for disability-related issues, members of the United Nations system, and representatives of the non- governmental community to review the status of fulfilment of the targets for the implementation of the Agenda for Action for the Asian and the Pacific Decade of Disabled Persons. 33 Forum participants identified the following critical issues and areas related to furthering the goals and objectives of the Decade: national coordination, legislation, information, public awareness, accessibility and communication, education, training and employment, prevention of causes of disability and rehabilitation (with emphasis on community-based rehabilitation; health and social development), prevention of causes of disability, rehabilitation services, assistive devices, self-help organizations and regional cooperation. Based on that review, forum participants formulated revisions to the 73 targets for the Decade, which increased to 107 targets, to provide further impetus to the equalization of opportunities for persons with disabilities for the balance of the Decade.
62. During the period under review ESCAP, in cooperation with interested member States and the non- governmental community, organized a number of technical exchanges, training workshops and seminars that directed special attention to education and technology and persons with disabilities and to the Standard Rules, particularly as they relate to accessibility, poverty alleviation and disability statistics. 34 In 1999 ESCAP organized three technical meetings on the question of education and children with disabilities:
(a) Seminar on Art Education and Children with Disabilities (Bangkok, 23-27 August 1999);
(b) Working Group Meeting on Education of Children and Youth with Disabilities (Bangkok, 18 October 1999);
(c) Regional Forum on Education of Children and Youth with Disabilities (Bangkok, 15- 19 November 1999).
The following technical meetings on accessibility focused on training related to barrier-free design and were organized at both regional and subregional levels:
(a) Regional Training of Trainers Course on the Promotion of Non-handicapping Environments for People with Disabilities (Bangkok, 1-14 March 2000);
(b) Consultative Meeting to Review Progress of Field Work in Training of Disabled Persons as Trainers for Non-handicapping Environments (Pattaya, 28 July-5 August 2000);
(c) Regional Conference and Training Workshop on Accessible Tourism for People with Disabilities (Bali, 24-28 September 2000);
(d) Training Seminar on Accessible Public Transport (Shenzhen, 20-24 November 2000);
(e) Training of Disabled Persons as Trainers for Non-handicapping Environments: Final Phase Training and Evaluation (Bangkok, 10-16 December 2000).
63. Two sets of technical exchanges organized by ESCAP reflect multisectoral approaches to disability action to further implement the Standard Rules. The Field Study-cum-regional Seminar on Poverty Alleviation Among Rural Persons with Disabilities (Hyderabad, India, 6-15 December 1999) was organized jointly by ESCAP and the Ministry of Rural Development, Government of India. It was the first of its kind to focus regional attention on rural poverty and disability issues. While most disabled persons in the ESCAP region live in rural areas, they remain, to a large extent, excluded from rural poverty-alleviation policies and programmes. Seminar participants formulated recommendations on the promotion of participation of disabled persons in rural poverty alleviation programmes and addressed, inter alia, financial allocation of a specific proportion of the development budgets of all governmental departments, including those for rural development and poverty alleviation, for poverty alleviation among rural disabled persons. Recommendations also addressed the need to facilitate formation of self-help groups of rural disabled persons. Local governmental agencies and self-help groups of the rural poor were encouraged to extend their support through awareness-raising and skills enhancement. The Regional Training Workshop on Disability Statistics (New Delhi, 7-11 February 2000) was the first regional workshop involving both producers and users of disability statistics for purposes of policy and programme purposes. Workshop participants included policy makers, statisticians from national statistical organizations and related agencies as well as representatives of non-governmental organizations concerned with advocating the inclusion of disability concerns to the work of statistical services. The Workshop recommended the designation of a focal agency in each country to assume responsibility for disability data collection, analysis and dissemination, in close consultation and coordination with government ministries and agencies, institutions and disability organizations; and the establishment of forums at national and subnational levels for continuous dialogue between producers and users of disability statistics, to enhance dialogue and understanding on disability-related data and its effective use. The Workshop was organized jointly by ESCAP, the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, the Government of India and the United Nations Statistical Institute for Asia and the Pacific (SIAP).
64. The secretariat of ESCAP organized a major review of progress in implementing the targets of the Decade, Campaign 2000 for the Asian and Pacific Decade of Disabled Persons, 1993-2002 (Bangkok, 11- 15 December 2000). Meeting participants adopted the Bangkok Millennium Declaration on the Promotion of the Rights of People with Disabilities in the Asian and Pacific Region. Further details on the outcome of the review meeting will be discussed in the report of the Secretary-General on the implementation of the World Programme of Action, which will be considered by the General Assembly at its fifty-sixth session.
34 Official Records of the Economic and Social Council, 1998, Supplement No. 1 (E/1998/98), resolution 1998/4 of 20 July 1998, "Strengthening regional support for persons with disabilities into the twenty-first century".