New York

03 December 2015

Secretary-General's remarks at the opening of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities [as delivered]

Let me begin by thanking the musicians for their excellent performance.  I thank Amb. Oh Joon Permanent Representative of the Republic of Korea for inviting them here today.

I am very honoured to be with you today.

Three months ago, the international community adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  Together, world leaders agreed that we must leave no one behind.

The Agenda is built on 17 inspiring Sustainable Development Goals.  

We have set our sights high with a clear aim to empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all persons, including persons with disabilities.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the outcome of the General Assembly High Level Meeting on Disability and Development both emphasize the important role of persons with disabilities in all aspects of society and development, respecting their rights and their dignity. 

As the world sets out to implement the 2030 Agenda, persons with disabilities must be recognized for what they are -- effective agents of change whose contributions bring enormous benefit.

More and more countries get it.  They are developing a better understanding of the importance of empowerment and equality for persons with disabilities in sustainable development.  They are taking action in partnership with civil society and international organisations.

We are making incredible progress – yet there is much more to be done.

Earlier this year in Sendai, Japan, the United Nations Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction advanced the “disability-inclusive disaster risk reduction” agenda – sending a clear message that persons with disabilities are an essential resource for implementation of the Sendai Framework. 

International efforts are under way to bring the vision and success of Sendai to the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, Turkey in May 2016. 

At the Third International Conference on Human Settlements, UN HABITAT III, in Quito, Ecuador in October, the voice of persons with disabilities will be critical to ensuring a new inclusive, accessible and sustainable urban development agenda.

As we move forward, we need to strengthen development policies and practice to ensure that accessibility is a part of inclusive and sustainable development.

We also need to account for persons with “invisible” disabilities whose needs and voice are often left unconsidered and unheard. 

The theme for this day says it all:  Inclusion matters.

Let the message from the international community be clear: Together, with persons with disabilities, we can achieve an inclusive, accessible and sustainable future for all.

Thank you for your commitment and resolve. Thank you very much.