It is a pleasure to welcome you to this seventh session of the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
I extend my warmest welcome to delegates from the 15 States Parties that have ratified or acceded to the Convention since the last Conference, and to all participants with disabilities and their representative organizations.
The number of States parties to the Convention has been growing rapidly, and has now reached 145. This is testimony to the deep commitment of States Parties and other stakeholders to the fundamental human rights of all members of the human family and to the ultimate goal of the Convention: to ensure that all societies welcome and value differences.
Equal access is the key to participation. Yet there are still many barriers and inequalities facing persons with disabilities.
A lack of access to education, employment, health care and other forms of support prevents many youth with disabilities from realizing their full potential and fully contributing to the development of their society.
Discrimination and exclusion remain pervasive in all societies.
In many parts of the world, urban and rural development policies and programmes still do not take full account of accessibility as a worthy investment for the wider participation of people with different functional needs.
At last year’s historic General Assembly High-Level Meeting on Disability and Development, Member States reaffirmed their commitment to the advancement of the status of persons with disabilities by adopting an action-oriented Outcome Document. Member States identified a number of priorities, including education, social protection, financial inclusion, statistics and the inclusion of disability in humanitarian programming.
Above all, the Outcome Document stresses the importance of including disability in all development goals. As the international community discusses a universal post-2015 development agenda, we need to make sure that the new framework will not leave the one billion persons with disabilities behind.
Your meeting can identify practical ways to take their rights, needs and concerns into consideration. We must involve persons with disabilities directly and meaningfully in the design and implementation of the development agenda towards 2015 and beyond. The powerful slogan, “nothing about us, without us”, highlights the importance of participation in improving the effectiveness and efficiency of our work.
Let us strive to advance inclusive, sustainable development and build a better future for and with persons with disabilities. This is a better future for all of us. In that spirit, I wish you a productive session.