New York

03 December 2019

Remarks at the Launch of the 2019 Observance of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities [as delivered]

As delivered by Ms. Ana María Menéndez, Secretary-General's Senior Advisor on Policy

Excellencies, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
With the strong commitment now expressed by the President of the General Assembly to the theme of this year’s International Day: ‘Promoting the participation of persons with disabilities and their leadership: taking action on the 2030 Development Agenda’, it is a pleasure to be with you at this launch of the 2019 observance of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. I bring you warm greetings from the Secretary-General, who has a video message for you on this important occasion.
Let’s watch the video.
[Secretary-General's video on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities]
The message is loud and clear.
This year’s theme focuses on the empowerment and the leadership of persons with disabilities to take action on the inclusive 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Action that directly leads to making the Sustainable Development Goals a reality for and with persons with disabilities.
We can no longer afford to leave more than one billion persons with disabilities behind. The UN must lead by example on disability inclusion.
You heard the SG say that he launched the United Nations Disability Inclusion Strategy. This is our commitment to systemic and transformative change – our strategy of action.
We need to raise the standards of the UN’s performance on disability inclusion across all the UN pillars—human rights, development and peace and security. We must take action on disability inclusion in our programmes, as well as in our operations.
Above all—we need to engage meaningfully persons with disabilities  as agents of change, and as leaders in the implementation of the SDGs. As the SG has said repeatedly - whatever we do, persons with disabilities and their representative organisations should be at the front and centre of our work.
We also need to ensure that the UN, as an employer, provides equal opportunities for persons with disabilities so that our diverse workforce can drive us to a new era of inclusion in the United Nations.
The Strategy aims to bring this transformative change we need, and for that, we need to be unified and coherent in our approach.  No one organization or group has the capacity and resources to bring about this change alone. As with every endeavour for which we want collective impact - we need to build partnerships – with all of you: Member States, UN entities, private sector, civil society and academia.
I invite you to visit our website, it is now in the six official UN languages. And we have developed a logo, which has been inveiled today. We developed both in coordination with DGC.
Finally, I would like to reiterate, on behalf of the Secretary-General, our strong commitment to make the UN an inclusive organization for all -- that we emulate the values and principles we are preaching. Leaving no one behind is not enough.  Together, with persons with disabilities, we will lead the way towards an inclusive, accessible and sustainable world for all of us.
We look forward to working with all of you.
Thank you.