UNITED NATIONS TO OBSERVE INTERNATIONAL DAY OF DISABLED PERSONS AT HEADQUARTERS 3 DECEMBER

2 December 2003
Note No. 5834

UNITED NATIONS TO OBSERVE INTERNATIONAL DAY OF DISABLED PERSONS AT HEADQUARTERS 3 DECEMBER

02/12/2003
Press ReleaseNote No. 5834

Note to Correspondents

UNITED NATIONS TO OBSERVE INTERNATIONAL DAY OF DISABLED PERSONS

AT HEADQUARTERS 3 DECEMBER

On the International Day of Disabled Persons, 3 December, the United Nations is hosting an event entitled “A Voice of Our Own”.  The programme is sponsored by Rehabilitation International, a worldwide network of organizations that promotes initiatives to protect the rights and improve the quality of life for people with disabilities, and VSA arts, an international organization dedicated to creating a society where people with disabilities can participate in and benefit more fully from the arts.  The event is organized in cooperation with the Permanent Mission of Ecuador to the United Nations, the Department of Economic and Social Affairs and Disabled Peoples’ International.

The International Day of Disabled Persons was proclaimed in 1992 and aims to increase awareness and understanding of disability issues and trends, and to mobilize support for practical action at all levels with the active participation of people with disabilities.

The seminar will bring together key leaders from the international disability community, the United Nations Member State Missions in New York, United Nations agencies, and several non-governmental organizations in an effort to highlight the current challenges and human rights issues facing people with disabilities.  Guest speakers include United Nations Special Rapporteur for Disability Sheikha Hessa al-Thani and Gerard Quinn, an expert in disability law.  The seminar will be held between 1 and 4 p.m. in Conference Room 4 at Headquarters.

“This celebration will further the dialogue among organizations around the world, who share the common goal of improving the lives and opportunities for people with disabilities”, said Tomas Lagerwall, Secretary General of Rehabilitation International.  “In the 10 years since the United Nations established the International Day of Disabled Persons, we have seen great progress in increasing awareness of the rights of people with disabilities.  Our event will provide an opportunity to explore these important issues, while showcasing the work of these talented artists.”

The official opening of the VSA arts’ International Fellows exhibition will begin at 4 p.m., with a public display featured in the main lobby of United Nations Headquarters that will run through 15 January 2004.  The exhibition includes the work of 12 artists with disabilities who were chosen as Fellows for the 2004 International VSA arts Festival, to be held 9 to 12 June in Washington, D.C.  In addition, VSA arts will present a performance for seminar attendees by Raul Midon, a singer-songwriter-guitarist who is blind.

“It is an honour for our organization to be involved in an event that recognizes the importance of this day in the lives of over 600 million people with disabilities around the world”, said Soula Antoniou, president of VSA arts.  “Artistic expression is one way that we can be united in our differences and arrive at a greater understanding of one another.  The arts are truly a gateway for people with disabilities to participate fully in society.”

For additional information, please contact Fred Doulton at the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, tel.: (212) 963-4466, e-mail: doultonf@un.org; or visit: www.un.org/esa/socdev/enable.

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For information media. Not an official record.