Interactive Panel Discussion on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Children with Disabilities, 17 June 2011, 1.15 to 2.45 p.m., UN Headquarters, Conference Room 7


Children with disabilities are among the most stigmatized and excluded, often suffering marginalisation within the family, community, at school, and in the wider society, leading to poor health and education outcomes, affecting chances for participation and putting them at higher risk for violence, abuse and exploitation.

There are no reliable data on the number of children with disabilities globally. Some estimates put their number at some 200 million world-wide, with around four in five million children with disabilities living in developing countries (see footnote 1). However actual numbers are likely higher due to wide-scale under-recognition and under-reporting.  Where data exists on their circumstances, it suggests significant disadvantage.  For example, it is estimated that of the 75 million children of primary school age who are out of school, one third are children with disabilities, and over 90 per cent of children with disabilities in developing countries do not attend school (see footnote 2).

As per General Assembly resolution 65/197, the rights of children with disabilities will be the main theme of the annual Secretary – General’s Report on the Rights of the Child (2011) and is expected to be the main focus of the annual General Assembly Resolution on the Rights of the Child (2011).

Panel discussion

The primary objective of the panel discussion was to discuss the importance of the promotion and protection of the rights and development of children with disabilities.  Experts, advocates and practitioners on the rights of children with disabilities  highlighted the various dimensions of this pressing issue. Some of the key areas that the discussion addressed included:

  • Child protection issues, such as sexual (and other) violence against children with disabilities
  • Technical and financial support to families to ensure that children with disabilities are not separated from their families, neglected or hidden away
  • Strengthening national institutions’ protection framework/data collection/ accountability
  • Inclusive education
  • Specific attention to girls with disabilities
  • Participation of children and adolescents with disabilities in society and development
  • Multiple forms of discrimination faced by children with disabilities
  • Mainstreaming issues related to children with disabilities in the international disability agenda and development

The event further generated interest on the rights of children with disabilities among Member States and the broader set of stakeholders, as well as provided them with an overview of the various dimensions of the promotion and protection of the rights of children with disabilities in preparation for the upcoming discussions on this theme in the Third Committee. 


  • H.E Mr. Pedro Serrano, Acting Head of the EU Delegation to the UN (Opening remarks)
  • Ms. Akiko Ito, Chief of the Secretariat for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Department of Economic and Social Affairs (Moderator)
  • Mr. Vladimir Cuk, Social Development and Human Rights Officer, International Disability Alliance
  • Ms. Marta Santos Pais, UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children
  • Ms. Corinna Csáky, Child Protection Adviser, Save the Children UK, also on behalf of Handicap International
  • Mr. Richard Morgan, Director, Policy and Practice, UNICEF 
  • Questions and Answer session
  • Ms. Lilián Silveira, Deputy Permanent Representative of Uruguay, Chargé d’affaires ad ii (Closing remarks)

This event was convened by Delegation of the European Union to the UN, Permanent Mission of Uruguay to the UN, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA).


Footnote 1: UNESCO, Education for All Global Monitoring Report 2010: Reaching the marginalized, p. 181.
Footnote 2: “Children with Disabilities”, UNESCO, web page: (last visited 31 March 2010).