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Annan salutes Ecuador's efforts to promote rights of disabled persons

Annan salutes Ecuador's efforts to promote rights of disabled persons

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today saluted the remarkable efforts of the Government and people of Ecuador to promote the full rights of persons with disabilities worldwide.

At a ceremony at UN Headquarters in New York, President Gustavo Noboa Bejarano accepted on behalf of Ecuador the 2002 Franklin Delano Roosevelt International Disability Award, which, since 1995, has been presented to the country that makes noteworthy progress toward the goal of the UN Programme of Action Concerning Disabled Persons.

In his message, which was delivered by his Chief of Staff, Iqbal Riza, the Secretary-General praised Ecuador for having "long been at the forefront of the movement for equal opportunities for disabled people, and for their full participation in society."

Today's award was "richly deserved," Mr. Annan said, noting that Ecuador was one of the first countries, not only in Latin America but worldwide, to include the rights of people with disabilities in its Constitution, and to provide legal instruments to uphold those rights.

More than a decade ago, he added, the Government approved a national plan on disabilities, and created a National Council to coordinate policies for both the private and public sector. Several groundbreaking projects by non-governmental organizations have received support from the UN Voluntary Fund on Disability, which backs actions to promote the rights of persons with disabilities worldwide.

The Secretary-General also praised the "tireless and dedicated work" of Baquerizo de Noboa, First Lady of Ecuador, as ambassador for people with disabilities in her country. He also paid tribute to Ecuador's Ambassador to the United Nations, Luis Gallegos, who serves as the Chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee on an International Convention on the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities, which met for the first time in July.