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UN Programme on Disability   Working for full participation and equality

ADHOC COMMITTEE ON
AN INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION

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Welcoming Remarks

SECOND SESSION OF THE AD HOC COMMITTEE ON A COMPREHENSIVE AND INTEGRAL INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION ON PROTECTION AND PROMOTION OF THE RIGHTS OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES
New York, 16 to 27 June 2003

H.E. Mr. Jan Kavan
President of the 57th Session of the
United Nations General Assembly


I would like to extend a warm welcome to the distinguished members of Permanent Missions, Secretariat staff and our colleagues from the United Nations system, as well as to the representatives of non-governmental organizations at this second session of the Ad Hoc Committee on a comprehensive and integral international convention to promote and protect the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities.

At the United Nations Millennium Summit, more than 180 world leaders agreed on a slate of ambitious goals. Following a General Assembly resolution in January, an ad hoc working group began discussing how to implement those goals. How do we cut poverty in half by 2015? How do we ensure that every child has access to primary schooling? The solutions will require creative thinking and sustained effort. They will also require that we make a point of extending the benefits of development, fully, to people with disabilities.

There are an estimated 600 million people with disabilities in this world. More than four-fifths of them live in developing countries. A comprehensive and integral international convention is needed to sever the links between disability and poverty, disability and social exclusion, disability and despair. It is needed to ensure that people with disabilities are not treated as "problems" that must be dealt with but as human agents with a right to full participation, "on the basis of equality, in all spheres of social life and development." It is needed so that States have a better understanding of their obligation to bring people with disabilities into the mainstream.

I wish this committee success in its deliberations and look forward to the results it will produce as a significant step toward a world where people with disabilities have the same rights and civic responsibilities as all other people.

16 June 2003

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