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Agenda Item 5
Review of progress in the elaboration of a comprehensive and integral international convention on the protection and promotion of the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities

New York, 16 to 27 June 2003

Mr. Kazuhiro Kuno
Deputy Director
Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs Division
Multilateral Cooperation Department
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan

Mr. Chairman,

On behalf of the delegation of Japan, I would like to take this opportunity to express our gratitude to you and the other members of the Bureau and the Secretariat for all the work you have put into the preparations for the second session of this important committee. Our delegation stands ready to contribute to elaborating an international convention on the promotion and protection of the rights of persons with disabilities.

Mr. Chairman,

The Government of Japan understands that protecting and promoting the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities is one of the most important issues of the international community today. Based on this understanding, Japan has been playing an active role in discussions in multilateral fora on the rights of persons with disabilities. For instance, Japan co-sponsored the resolution regarding the convention at the forty-first session of the Commission for Social Development this February as well as the resolution on the human rights of persons with disabilities at the fifty-ninth session of the Commission on Human Rights. Japan will continue to participate actively in the discussion and all the work related to this issue.

Mr. Chairman,

I would like to share with you our recent regional efforts aimed at promoting and protecting the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities. Last year, in commemoration of the conclusion of the Asian and Pacific Decade of Disabled Persons (1993-2002), Japan hosted four international conferences in October, namely, the ESCAP High-level Intergovernmental Meeting in Otsu, the Sixth World Assembly of Disabled People's International (DPI) in Sapporo, the Twelfth Rehabilitation International (RI) Asia and Pacific Regional Conference in Osaka, and Campaign 2002 to promote the Asian and Pacific Decade of Disabled Persons in Osaka. We are pleased to note that the last three conferences were sponsored by NGOs. We are also encouraged by the outcomes of these conferences, in which we affirmed that it was our common goal to elaborate a convention on the rights of persons with disabilities.

Mr. Chairman,

Let me turn now to the national measures which we have taken recently to promote and protect the rights of persons with disabilities. In December last year, Japan revised its Basic Programme for Persons with Disabilities, responding to the resolution to extend the Asian and Pacific Decade of Disabled Persons that Japan sponsored and that was adopted by consensus at the fifty-eighth session of ESCAP. In this revised Programme, we reaffirmed our intention to actively participate in international efforts, including the elaboration of a convention. In addition, since last April, the Government of Japan has promoted domestic measures for persons with disabilities, for example, drawing up the Fundamental Policy for Employment Measures for Persons with Disabilities in response to the revised Programme.

Mr. Chairman,

Lastly, we would like to stress the importance of working together with all stakeholders, especially representatives of NGOs. If I may be allowed to refer to our own experience, the Government of Japan had a dialogue with national NGOs in the preparatory process and our delegation has been strengthened by the inclusion of an NGO representative, a lawyer specializing in this field.

Allow me to conclude by expressing the hope that this session of the Ad-Hoc Committee, will be a success, and that it will prove to be a milestone in our efforts to protect and promote the rights of persons with disabilities.

Thank you very much.

18 June 2003

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