Volume 19, No.09 - September 2015

Global dialogue on development

United Nations General Assembly

General DebateThe seventieth session of the General Assembly will convene at United Nations Headquarters on Tuesday, 15 September, and the general debate – featuring statements by Heads of State and Government and other country representatives – will open on Monday, 28 September. The United Nations summit for the adoption of the post-2015 development agenda will be held from 25 to 27 September in New York, and convened as a high-level plenary meeting of the General Assembly.

The General Assembly is the main deliberative, policymaking and representative organ of the United Nations. Comprising all 193 Member States of the United Nations, it provides a unique forum for multilateral discussion of the full spectrum of international issues covered by the UN Charter. The Assembly meets in regular session intensively from September to December each year, and thereafter as required.

Second and Third Committees

The Economic and Financial Committee (Second Committee) and the Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Committee (Third Committee) will discuss the items on the agenda related to economic questions and social and humanitarian issues, respectively. The Committees seek where possible to harmonize the various approaches of States, and present their recommendations, usually in the form of draft resolutions and decisions, to a plenary meeting of the Assembly for its consideration.

Both the Second and Third Committees will convene in October.

For more information, see:  UN General Assembly

Changing the game for persons with disabilities in global development planning

disabilityDespite being the world’s largest minority – 15 per cent of the global population – people living with disabilities are often invisible in global development policy and programming. Even the highly successful and unifying set of global developmental objectives, the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), omitted any direct reference to the one billion persons who live with a disability – of which over 80% live in developing countries.

Many countries still continue to face challenges in developing and implementing effective measures to reduce poverty and inequality. This is in part due to the chronic levels of poverty, lack of national capacities and resources, as well as a lack of data and statistics. The international community has strongly voiced concern over growing inequalities and exclusion faced by persons with disabilities. They have drawn global attention to the obstacles and barriers to achieving development objectives for persons with disabilities.

A lack of disability data and statistics means that the situation and number of persons with disabilities are not clear to policy-makers and others responsible for development planning. The need for accurate data has been emphasized by and pursued by the United Nations for over three decades.

As the target date for achieving the MDGs comes to an end this year, the new set of sustainable development goals (SDGs) and related targets that will replace the MDGs was agreed to by UN Member States on 1 August 2015. The document: “Transforming Our World; The 2030 agenda for global action”, includes seventeen goals and related targets, of which seven targets explicitly refer to disability or persons with disabilities. These targets call for equal access to education and employment; accessible schools, transport, public and green spaces; enhanced political, social and economic participation of persons with disabilities as well as for more data disaggregated by disability. Other proposed SDG targets, either by their universal nature that calls for achievement for all, or by their references to vulnerable persons, also cover persons with disabilities. In some target areas, persons with disabilities have historically been at a disadvantage, and now disaggregating data by disability will be a leap forward in addressing such inequalities.

It is encouraging to note that more data collection initiatives are adopting international recommendations and thus producing globally comparable data

Increasingly, during the last decade, more data and information on disability have been collected by Governments, UN agencies and others, worldwide. For example, 98 countries have collected data on disability in their last censuses. UN agencies such as the ILO, UNICEF, UNFPA and WHO, have produced or are producing disability modules for statistical surveys, while some have also collected disability data. Furthermore, the Washington Group on Disability Statistics has endorsed disability-related questions suitable for use in censuses and statistical surveys worldwide.

It is encouraging to note that more data collection initiatives are adopting international recommendations and thus producing globally comparable data. Thirty per percent of those national censuses, as well as the WHO, ILO and UNICEF surveys are using comparable methods of collecting data on disability. The data tools are now already available to monitor, review and follow up the achievement of the SDG targets relevant for persons with disabilities.

This new convergence of political will and an increasing availability of disability data to help achieve the SDGs, presents a historic opportunity for the global community to leave no one behind, including individuals with disabilities.

Read more: UN Enable