I am pleased to send greeting to all participants at this session of the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of All Persons with Disabilities.
You gather at an important time, as the world looks ahead to this September’s High-level Meeting of the General Assembly on Disability and Development.
Since the Convention was adopted seven years ago, the United Nations has intensified our global campaign to raise the voices of persons with disabilities by mobilizing action for their full and equal participation in a truly inclusive society.
I thank all of you for helping to advance this goal through your support for the Convention and its Conferences of State Parties. I applaud your decision to focus this year on empowerment. Enabling people with disabilities to reach their full potential will advance progress for all.
More and more countries are addressing the rights of persons with disabilities in their efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by the target date of 2015. We must maintain this momentum as we shape a universal development agenda for the future.
Even though 132 countries have ratified this important Convention, we know that many of the world’s more than 1 billion people living with disabilities do not enjoy the protections to which they are entitled.
I urge all countries to join the Convention, and encourage other partners, including civil society groups and the private sector, to work for bolder action to realize the Convention’s goals.
I count on you to ensure that this Conference will reinvigorate a global commitment to the realization of the Convention’s objectives and contribute to a disability-inclusive United Nations development agenda for the future.