Under-Secretary-General Stresses Need to Build Better Future for All as States Parties to Disabilities Convention Open Session

10 June 2014
States Parties to Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities,

Under-Secretary-General Stresses Need to Build Better Future for All as States Parties to Disabilities Convention Open Session

Conference President Calls for Their Inclusion in Post-2015 Framework

As the world discussed the post-2015 landscape, it was vital that inclusive sustainable development built a better future for all people, especially for those living with disabilities, said Under-Secretary-General Wu Hongbo, as the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities opened its seventh session today.

“We need to make sure the new development framework would not leave the 1 billion persons with disabilities behind,” said the Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, who spoke on behalf of the Secretary-General.

Opening the three-day meeting, Conference President Macharia Kamau (Kenya) highlighted key achievements, among them that 147 States had ratified the Convention and that 158 States were signatories.  Such triumphs were testament to the inclusion of the rights of persons with disabilities, as well as the General Assembly’s high-level meeting on disabilities last September which determined that addressing disabilities was at the core of development.

Now all stakeholders must address the gaps between the goals and the situation on the ground, where access to schools, health care, jobs and public services was sometimes uneven, he said.  Efforts were needed to ensure the inclusion of persons with disabilities in the post-2015 development goals, to implement the Convention and to address monitoring and evaluation systems that helped to identify persons with disabilities.  “It was now time for all of us to roll up our sleeves and work harder on these issues,” he said.

Maria Soledad, Chairperson of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, said the exercise of all rights, particularly equal recognition of persons before the law, was imperative so people could exercise full autonomy and to make their own decisions on their lives.

Risnawati Utami, speaking on behalf of civil society, said people with disabilities should work together to build bridges with partners to ensure the implementation of the Convention.  Given that 80 per cent of those with disabilities lived in developing countries, their empowerment was vital to eradicating poverty and achieving sustainable development.

In the general debate that ensued, a number of speakers described how their countries were making a difference.  Alain Dominique Zoubga, Minister for Social Action and National Solidarity of Burkina Faso, said since ratifying the convention in 2009, his country had adopted a national plan, laws and action-oriented goals.  As part of those efforts, a three-year plan to protect the rights of persons with disabilities included a $5 million job-creation project.

Many speakers endorsed the Secretary-General’s statement that persons with disabilities be included in the post-2015 development agenda.

The Philippines’ delegate expressed hope that momentum gained at the first-ever High-Level Meeting on Disability and Development last September would ensure that the post-2015 development framework would leave no vulnerable groups behind.

A representative of the European Union Delegation emphasized the need to enhance monitoring of the Convention’s implementation, saying that the bloc’s first implementation report had been sent to the United Nations on 5 June.  Furthermore, 12 European Union States had submitted their reports to the Organization.

Kenya’s delegate said that youth were the strength, wealth and drivers of innovation in her country.  That generation would offer the greatest social, political, intellectual, scientific and technological transformation.  Her Government’s programmes for the disabled had continued to mainstream youth with disabilities to ensure inclusion in education and economic empowerment.

Speaking during the general debate were Government ministers from Senegal, New Zealand, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Angola, Albania, South Africa and Turkey.

Also delivering statements were representatives of Malta, Philippines, Jordan, Bangladesh, Bulgaria, El Salvador, Israel, Panama, Cyprus, Sweden, Republic of Korea, Japan, Russian Federation, France, Italy, Mexico, Australia, Thailand, Argentina, Indonesia and Canada.

Representatives of civil society organizations — International Disabilities Alliance, Disabled People International and the People with Disability of Australia — also spoke.

In other business, the Conference adopted its agenda, its organization of work and elected, by two rounds of secret balloting, members of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to replace the nine members whose terms were due to expire 31 December 2014.  The terms of the newly elected members would begin on 1 January 2015 and end on 31 December 2018.

In the first round of voting, the following eight candidates were elected:  Theresia Degener (Germany), Hyung Shik Kim (Republic of Korea), Stig Langvad (Denmark), Carlos Alberto Parra Dussan (Colombia), Coomaravel Pyaneandee (Mauritius), Jonas Ruskus (Lithuania), Damjan Tatić (Serbia) and Liang You (China).

In the second round of voting, the Conference elected Danlami Umaru Basharu (Nigeria).

The Conference will reconvene Wednesday, 11 June, to continue its general debate and to hold round tables on incorporating the Convention’s provisions into the post-2015 development agenda, youth with disabilities and on national implementation and monitoring.

For information media. Not an official record.