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UN Programme on Disability   Working for full participation and equality

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World Programme of Action Concerning
Disabled Persons

Page 3 of 10

Objectives, Background and Concepts

Concepts adopted within the United Nations system

In the Charter of the United Nations, the reaffirmation of the principles of peace, the faith in human rights and fundamental freedoms, the dignity and worth of the human person and the promotion of social justice are given primary importance.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights affirms the right of all people, without distinction of any kind, to marriage; property ownership; equal access to public services; social security; and the realization of economic, social and cultural rights. The International Covenants on Human Rights, 3/ the Declaration on the Rights of Mentally Retarded Persons, 4/ and the Declaration on the Rights of Disabled Persons 5/ give specific expression to the principles contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The Declaration on Social Progress and Development 6/ proclaims the necessity of protecting the rights of physically and mentally disadvantaged persons and assuring their welfare and rehabilitation. It guarantees everyone the right to and opportunity for useful and productive labour.

Within the United Nations Secretariat, a number of offices carry out activities related to the above concepts as well as to the World Programme of Action. They include: the Division of Human Rights; the Department of International Economic and Social Affairs; the Department of Technical Cooperation for Development; the Department of Public Information; the Division of Narcotic Drugs; and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. The regional commissions also have an important role: the Economic Commission for Africa in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), the Economic Commission for Europe in Geneva (Switzerland), the Economic Commission for Latin America in Santiago (Chile), the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific in Bangkok (Thailand) and the Economic Commission for Western Asia in Baghdad (Iraq).

Other organizations and programmes of the United Nations have adopted approaches related to development that will be significant in implementing the World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons. These include: - The mandate contained in General Assembly resolution 3405 (XXX) on new dimensions in technical cooperation, which directs the United Nations Development Programme, interalia, to take into account the importance of reaching the poorest and most vulnerable sections of society when responding to Governments' requests for help in meeting their most urgent and critical needs and which encompasses the concepts of technical cooperation among developing countries;

The specialized agencies of the United Nations system, which are involved in promoting, supporting and carrying out field activities, have a long record of work related to disability. Programmes of disability prevention, nutrition, hygiene, education of disabled children and adults, vocational training, job placement and others represent a store of experience and know-how which opens up opportunities for further accomplishments and, at the same time, makes it possible to share these experiences with governmental and non-governmental organizations concerned with disability matters. These agencies and their programmes include:


3/ General Assembly resolution 2200 A (XXI)

4/ General Assembly resolution 2856 (XXVI).

5/ General Assembly resolution 3447 (XXX).

6/ General Assembly resolution 2542 (XXIV).

7/ United Nations document A/36/766.

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United Nations, 2006
Department of Economic and Social Affairs
Division for Social Policy and Development