Accessibility does not have to be about luck

A young resident of the Princess Elizabeth Centre for Handicapped Children in Trinidad and Tobago (UN Photo/L Solmssen)

About 200 million children worldwide are estimated to live with a disability and around 80 per cent of them are in developing countries. Invisibility, discrimination and an absence of reports means that this number may be considerably higher. It is therefore crucial seeking comfort and visibility for these children, for their full inclusion in society. 

“Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Children with Disabilities”, was the theme of a panel discussion addressing these issues on 17 June, convened by the Delegation of the European Union to the UN, Permanent Mission of Uruguay, UNICEF and DESA.

It was moderated by Ms. Akiko Ito, Chief of the Secretariat for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities within DESA. Ms. Ito underscored the importance of disability issues within the developmental framework and the need for them to be included in all goals.

Child protection issues; technical and financial support to families; the creation of a more inclusive education; and the strengthening of national institutions’ protection framework were some of the key areas addressed. The needs to improve the collection of correct data, to increase the visibility and for global strategies to empower these children, were also stressed.

Marta Santos Pais, UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children, also highlighted indispensable measures for awareness: “It is urgent to establish in all countries effective and well-resourced and child and disability sensitive mechanisms to prevent and address incidents of violence!”

The panelists also agreed that there now exists a platform to develop mechanism for these rights, focusing on children, thanks to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, adopted in 2006 and with 101 ratifications.

The event also provided an opportunity to give Member States and stakeholders an overview and a real dimension on the issue of children with disabilities; preparing for the upcoming discussions on this theme in the Third Committee, a theme that is also included in the “Annual Secretary–General’s Report on the Rights of the Child (2011)”.

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