Noting that more than 600 million people - roughly one in every 10 people - suffer some mental, physical or sensory impairment, Secretary-General Kofi Annan today pledged dedication by the United Nations to making societies truly accessible, caring and inclusive for all people, regardless of disability.
"The commitment of the United Nations to advance the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities is deeply rooted in the founding ideals of the Organization and in fundamental international human rights instruments," Mr. Annan said in a message to the 60 million-member China Disabled Persons' Federation, currently holding its fourth national congress in Beijing.
"The United Nations and the China Disabled Persons' Federation have a constructive record of cooperation," the message said. "You are strongly supporting the elaboration of an international convention on the rights of persons with disabilities."
Mr. Annan also stressed the need to involve persons with disabilities in all aspects of disability programmes, from policy-making to the implementation and evaluation of projects.
He said disabled persons "face discrimination and marginalization, and are found disproportionately among the poorest strata of society. This is a challenge that should be a leading concern for all of us, since it affects not only disabled persons and their families, but also the economic and social development of entire societies."