Jordan presented award at UN for safeguarding rights of people with disabilities

Jordan presented award at UN for safeguarding rights of people with disabilities

King Abdullah II of Jordan
Jordan, presented today with an award for its work on improving the lives of its citizens with disabilities, has made important contributions to the United Nations work on an international convention on the protection and promotion of the rights and dignity of disabled people, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said.

Jordan's overall achievement in the field of disability draws from sources "ranging from Arab-Islamic tradition to the modern Jordanian constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights," he said in a message delivered by his wife, Nane.

"Jordanian law stresses the rights of persons with disabilities to have access to education commensurate with their abilities; to have work commensurate with their capabilities and qualifications, to live and work in an environment that allows them safe and secure freedom of movement and to participate in any decision-making relevant to their lives," he said.

The award – a bust of former United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt and $50,000 for a domestic disability institution – is presented by the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute and the World Committee on Disability for outstanding action in support of the UN World Programme of Action Concerning Disabled Persons, adopted by the General Assembly in 1982.

It was instituted in 1995, on the 50th anniversary of the United Nations.

Accepting the award, King Abdullah II said Jordan's 1993 Law for the Welfare of Disabled Persons affirmed disabled citizens' rights and established the National Council for the Welfare of Disabled Persons.

The Council's great work has resulted in a wide range of programmes, he said. "New early detection programmes. New advanced-medicine genetic counselling. Free health insurance cards for the disabled. Specially designed educational facilities. A new building code. A university education, with 90 per cent of the tuition, for disabled Jordanians who pass the secondary schools exam. A special enforcement unit to oversee job opportunities."

National television news and mosques during Friday prayers had language signers, he added, and a national training centre for community-based rehabilitation was in the works.

On the Convention, he said, "Let us work together for this shared goal with a maximum sense of urgency."

Jordan's distinction of receiving the award would be a source of inspiration for the other UN Member States, said UN General Assembly President Jean Ping of Gabon.

About 600 million people had a range of disabilities, which affected not only them, but also their families, and they had to take extraordinary measures to live as "citizens like the others," he said.

A photographic exhibition named "Raising the Bar: New Horizons in Disability Sports" was scheduled to be launched at UN Headquarters in the evening.

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Video of ceremony [54mins]