Deputy Secretary-General: Statements
New York , 2 December 2011 - Deputy Secretary-General's remarks at Commemoration of the International Day of Persons with DisabilitiesThank you, first and foremost, to the students from New York Institute for Special Education. What a beautiful performance! I am really touched and want to assure you that we will keep the love in our hearts aglow. Thank you so very much.
[TO THE STUDENTS:] Thank you for joining us. Thank you for inspiring us with your song.
Your Excellency, Dr. Mutlaq Al-Qahtani, Chef de Cabinet of the President of the General Assembly,
Your Excellency, Mr. Libran N. Cabactulan,
Permanent Representative of the Philippines,
Your Excellency, Mr. Ombeni Y. Sefue,
Permanent Representative of Tanzania,
Your Excellency, Mr. Mårten Grunditz,
Permanent Representative of Sweden
Ms. Maria Victoria Reina, Secretary-General of the Global Partnership for Disability and Development
Ladies and gentlemen,
Dear Colleagues and friends
It has been exactly three decades since the world first marked the International Year of Disabled Persons.
Thirty years later, we live in a different world. More inclusive. More just. A world where opportunities for people with disabilities are more equal.
Many of you here today helped take us this far on what has been a long journey.
It has been a history of accomplishment leading to our biggest breakthrough five years ago: the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
This treaty is our international ban on discrimination. It is our legally binding protection of the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities. And it is our promise to promote respect for their inherent dignity.
The Convention offered hope to millions of people around the world affected by disabilities. Hope for inclusion. Hope for opportunities. Hope for equality.
The Convention is also a tool for development.
Our world today is mired in crisis. Unemployment. Energy scarcity. Climate change. Rising food prices. Global financial instability.
All of these problems tend to hit people with disabilities especially hard.
But people with disabilities can also hit back hard at these crises ? helping all of us to overcome them.
That is why we have to live up to the theme of today's meeting: “Together for a better world for all: including people with disabilities in development.”
We have to take this theme beyond this meeting room. We have to make it meaningful in people's lives.
The legendary recording artist Stevie Wonder, our United Nations Messenger for Peace, champions the cause of people with disabilities.
As he says, “We can't just talk about it – we got to do about it.”
I am committed to working with all of you. I know the Secretary-General is too.
Raise your voices. Share your ideas. Reach for your goals. They are our goals too. Together, we can realize them.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I now have the honour of delivering a message from United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
“It is thirty years since the United Nations first observed the International Year of Disabled Persons under the theme “Full Participation and Equality”. During that period, there has been significant progress in raising awareness about the rights of persons with disabilities and in strengthening the international normative framework to realize those rights – from the World Programme of Action (1982) to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006).
More and more countries are committing to protecting and promoting the rights of persons with disabilities. However, many challenges remain. Persons with disabilities experience higher rates of poverty and deprivation and are twice as likely to lack health care. Employment rates of persons with disabilities in some countries are as low as one-third of that of the overall population. In developing countries, the gap in primary school attendance rates between children with disabilities and others ranges from 10 per cent to 60 per cent.
This multi-dimensional exclusion represents a huge cost, not only to persons with disabilities but to society as a whole. This year's International Day of Persons with Disabilities reminds us that development can only be sustainable when it is equitable, inclusive and accessible for all. Persons with disabilities need therefore to be included at all stages of development processes, from inception to monitoring and evaluation.
Addressing negative attitudes, the lack of services or ready access to them, and other harmful social, economic and cultural barriers will benefit all of society.
On this International Day of Persons with Disabilities, I call on governments, civil society and the global community to work for and alongside persons with disabilities to achieve inclusive, sustainable and equitable development worldwide”