Conference of States Parties to Focus on Expanding Social Protection, Reducing Poverty for Persons with Disabilities

16 July 2013

Conference of States Parties to Focus on Expanding Social Protection, Reducing Poverty for Persons with Disabilities

16 July 2013
Press Release
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Background Release

Conference of States Parties to Focus on Expanding Social Protection,


Reducing Poverty for Persons with Disabilities


Their Exclusion from Job Market Reduces Gross Domestic Product, Says ILO Study

Improving living standards and employment opportunities for persons with disabilities will be a major focus of attention when the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities convenes at New York Headquarters from 17 to 19 July.

The 132 States parties to the Convention will look at ways to build “disability-inclusive” development by improving social protection for everyone and reducing poverty.  The United Nations states that about 80 per cent of the more than 1 billion people with disabilities around the world are of working age, and face physical, social, economic and cultural challenges in gaining access to education, skills development and employment.

According to a Secretariat background paper prepared for the Conference, persons with disabilities face a greater risk of living in poverty than those without, in both developed and developing countries.  A pilot study led by the International Labour Organization (ILO) in 10 low- and middle-income developing countries shows that the exclusion of persons with disabilities from the labour market resulted in an estimated loss of 3 to 7 per cent of gross domestic product.

“It has become even more imperative to pursue development strategies that include social, economic and environmental policies to empower excluded social groups,” the report states.  “These include persons with disabilities, who are disproportionately located at the margins of the formal labour market and are denied equality of opportunity when it comes to essential public goods and services, such as education, health and accessible and user-friendly public infrastructure.”

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said:  “Together, we must strive to achieve the goals of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities:  to eliminate discrimination and exclusion, and to create societies that value diversity and inclusion.”

A total of 132 countries have already ratified the Convention and are in the process of harmonizing their national laws with it.  Another 23 countries have signed the treaty, signalling their intent to ratify in the near future.  Before the United Nations General Assembly adopted the instrument in 2006, only about 45 countries had legislation covering the rights of persons with disabilities.

The Convention, the first new human rights treaty of the twenty-first century, calls for equality of opportunity, non-discrimination and equality between men and women.  It obliges States parties to ensure that persons with disabilities enjoy all human rights on an equal basis with others, and to take appropriate steps to safeguard and promote the realization of those rights without discrimination.

Civil society organizations, which played a major role in support of the Convention’s adoption, will participate in the Conference and hold a special civil society forum on 16 July.

Under the theme “The way forward:  a disability-inclusive development agenda towards 2015 and beyond”, the Conference of States Parties takes place two months before the General Assembly convenes its High-level Meeting on Disability and Development on 23 September.  At the Meeting, Heads of State and Government will agree on next steps to promote the inclusion of persons with disabilities in all aspects of development and society, towards 2015 and beyond.

The conclusion of the Conference will be followed immediately by a forum organized by the Department of Economic and Social Affairs to promote dialogue on disability and the post-2015 development framework.  It will bring together a wide range of stakeholders to discuss ways to include disability in global development frameworks.

Additional information is available at:  Follow the Conference live at:

Press Contacts:  Melanie Prudhomme, Department of Public Information, tel.:  +1 917 367 3541, e-mail:; Dan Shepard, Department of Public Information, tel.:  +1 212 963 9495, e-mail:

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.