Geneva, Switzerland

03 December 2019

Video Message to International Day Persons with Disabilities Geneva Event [as delivered]

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

Excellencies, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
 
I am pleased to join you on this year’s International Day, to celebrate the participation and leadership of persons with disabilities and action towards achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.
 
When launching the UN Disability Inclusion Strategy in June, the Secretary-General made it clear -- disability inclusion is central to the core promise of the 2030 Agenda: leave no one behind. And he has reiterated that in whatever we do, persons with disabilities and their representative organisations must be at the front and centre of our work.
 
The UN Disability Inclusion Strategy is our commitment to persons with disabilities -- establishing the foundation for the systemic and sustainable change we need.
 
In 2018, the Secretary-General commissioned a comprehensive review of our performance on disability inclusion. While we found examples of good practice, the review shed light on significant gaps across all our work, from headquarters to the country level. It showed unevenness in our approach — in our strategies, and in our core policies. 
 
The Strategy is therefore one of action –- a concrete framework and road map to raise our standards and performance on disability inclusion across all the UN pillars, both in programmes and operations.
 
And importantly, to support governments in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and the CRPD.
 
Though there is a long way to go, I notice that many entities are taking actions and steps down this path.
 
The UN system, at headquarters and country level, is working to implement the Strategy. Entities are reviewing and updating their policies, and establishing new policies where they may not currently exist. We are leveraging our strengths and knowledge -- coordinating on joint initiatives and the development of shared resources.
 
For inclusion to be real, we also need to fundamentally change our mindset. During the 2019 Global Resident Coordinator meeting, UN Country Team leaders reiterated that one of the single most effective ways to do this is to have more persons with disabilities in our offices and in our midst.
 
 2019 has seen some important developments to drive forward our work on disability inclusion.
 
This year, the Security Council adopted a resolution on the protection of persons with disabilities. The IASC launched Guidelines on Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action -- the first system-wide operational guidelines of its kind, developed with persons with disabilities and for persons with disabilities.
 
These were possible through collective efforts of many actors. As with every endeavour for which we want collective impact, we need to build partnerships—with all of you: Member States, UN entities, the private sector, civil society and academia.
 
Let me seize this opportunity to recognize the governments of Australia, Finland, Mexico, New Zealand and the UK, as well as the co-sponsors, for your continued leadership on disability inclusion.
 
For the Secretary-General, the role of the UN is clear: we must lead by example.
 
I would like to reiterate, on behalf of the SG and myself, our firm commitment to make the United Nations more disability-inclusive. We look forward to continuing our work with all of you.
 
Thank you.