Your Excellency, Mr. Kim Hwang-sik, Prime Minister of the Republic of Korea, Your Excellency, Mr.Rim Chemin, Minister of Health and Welfare of the Republic of Korea, Distinguished delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I thank the Government of the Republic of Korea for hosting this important meeting, and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific for organizing it.
Two regional decades have focused welcome attention on the rights of persons with disabilities and the obligation to enable them to participate fully and equally in society.
These efforts have born fruit. Half the countries of the region have ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and we are working with all to move towards barrier-free and rights-based societies.
But significant obstacles remain for the 650 million mostly impoverished persons living with disabilities in the Asia-Pacific region.
Even where countries have ratified the Convention, many have yet to harmonize it with their national legislation.
As we launch the new Asian and Pacific Decade of Persons with Disabilities, 2013-2022, let us focus on addressing the remaining challenges.
In this new Decade, we must further empower and strengthen the engagement of persons with disabilities.
By adopting – and implementing -- the Incheon Strategy, you can help to ensure a disability-inclusive post-2015 development agenda, and a successful UN General Assembly High-level Meeting on Disability and Development next September.
We have made good progress in raising awareness. Let us now "Make the Right Real!"
I wish you a productive meeting.