As the Under Secretary-General of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs – UN DESA, I am honoured to join this Interactive Dialogue among States Parties, the UN system and civil society. I look forward to sharing some of our key contributions to the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
The Convention is a driving force for the implementation of an inclusive, accessible and sustainable global agenda, including the Sustainable Development Goals.
The work of UN DESA is focused on advancing internationally agreed development goals for all, including persons with disabilities. With the mandate to advance the status of persons with disabilities in all aspects of society and development, UN DESA continues to lead the work of the Inter-Agency Support Group on the CRPD. As secretariat for the Conference of States Parties to the CRPD and focal point on disability issues, we ensure that the work of the UN system on disability is effectively integrated into the work of this Conference and into the broader intergovernmental conversation on disability in the General Assembly, Commission for Social Development, High-level Political Forum, Internet Governance Forum and other development-focused bodies.
We aim to mainstream disability in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda building upon the interlinkages across the social, economic, and environmental pillars and across the various goals and targets.
Last year, pursuant to General Assembly resolution 74/144, UN DESA undertook a study on the participation of persons with disabilities in decision-making processes. Presented in the Secretary-General’s report on the rights of persons with disabilities in 2021, the study was welcomed by Member States and provided guidance to Member States, the United Nations system, international financial and development institutions, and other international and regional organizations on how to enhance the full and meaningful participation of persons with disabilities and their representative organizations in decision-making processes in the implementation of the Convention, as well as that of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
UN DESA is currently conducting a study in response to General Assembly resolution 75/154 concerning “the realization of internationally agreed development goals for persons with disabilities: the way forward, a disability-inclusive development agenda towards 2015 and beyond”. The results of this study—which will also assess the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on persons with disabilities, including measures to mitigate the impact on them and to strengthen their participation, will be presented to the General Assembly later this year.
You may recall the flagship “Disability and Development Report”, published in 2018, which reflected on progress towards the SDGs for persons with disabilities. We are coordinating with UN agencies, International Financial Institutions, Member States, and civil society, including research institutions and organizations of persons with disabilities, to produce an update of this report in 2023.
Our attention to improving data availability has continued. The importance of high quality statistics and data for decision-making, cannot be overstated. To improve the overall monitoring of SDGs, UN DESA has launched a Wiki website to showcase good practices on national plans and strategies for data collection and disaggregation, including by disability status, as well as guidance on overcoming data challenges faced by countries.
The implementation of the United Nations Disability Inclusion Strategy, launched by the Secretary-General in 2019, has also been among DESA’s priorities over the past year. UN DESA leads the sub-working group on data and contributes to the system-wide implementation of the UN Disability Inclusion Strategy.
Moreover, UN DESA continues to advance accessibility to UN meetings, including in official meetings, both virtual and in-person, including this Conference. UN DESA proactively engages persons with disabilities and their representative organizations in its endeavours to build a community of stakeholders toward more inclusive and accessible United Nations.
To help build national capacity, UN DESA continues to provide its support at the country level. Most recently, three countries in Central Asia—namely in Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan received our support to implement the CRPD at national and municipal levels. Fourteen trainings in these three countries were conducted. We trained a total of 593 government officials and civil society representatives to enhance their capacity to implement the provisions of the CRPD.
Within the UN Partnership on the Rights of Persons with disabilities, we have been providing support for a disability-inclusive COVID-19 response and recovery both at country and global levels. UN DESA is in the process of creating an accessible global knowledge platform on this issue as well as other priority issues that will promote disability inclusion in the global agenda.
UN DESA also administers the United Nations Voluntary Fund on Disability to meet requests for assistance for disability inclusion from developing countries and organizations of persons with disabilities. In 2021, two projects were implemented with support of the Fund: one in Lesotho to build the capacity of ministerial disability focal points to develop disability-inclusive budgets and to better support disability-related services; and a second in Uganda, which improved access and delivery of sexual and reproductive services to women and girls with disabilities. Over the years, more than 40 countries and other sources have contributed to the Fund. UN DESA has continued to explore new ways and means of raising funds and mobilizing resources, and I thank all who provided the generous contributions which will allow to support developing countries next year.
We stand ready to advance our efforts in support of Member States, UN system entities, civil society, in particular organizations of persons with disabilities and all relevant stakeholders to make the promise of the Convention and the 2030 Agenda a reality for persons with disabilities.