People with disabilities must play key role in development, says Ban

3 December 2008

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has marked the International Day of Persons with Disabilities today by stressing that people with disabilities – the vast majority of whom live in poor countries – have a fundamental role to play in development processes.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has marked the International Day of Persons with Disabilities today by stressing that people with disabilities – the vast majority of whom live in poor countries – have a fundamental role to play in development processes.

The Day falls a week before the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and both occasions are being commemorated with the theme, “Dignity and justice for all of us.”

Mr. Ban pointed out that the General Assembly has underscored the need to include people with disabilities in efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), eight anti-poverty targets, by their 2015 deadline.

“With 80 per cent of persons with disabilities – more than 400 million people – living in poor countries, we need to do much more to break the cycle of poverty and disability,” he said.

Noting that the international disability community’s slogan is “Nothing about us without us,” the Secretary-General called on governments and others to guarantee that persons with disabilities are an integral part of all development processes.

“In this way, we can promote integration and pave the way for a better future for all people in society,” he said.

Mr. Ban stressed that there is much to celebrate this year, with the entry into force of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in May.

The first Conference of the Parties to the pact met in October, and the resulting progress is due to the “active participation and leadership of persons with disabilities, by ensure that they have access to – and are included in – all aspects of our work,” he said.

Addressing a commemoration in New York today, he stressed the world body’s commitment to promoting accessibility in many forms, such as with communications technologies and political processes.

The Secretary-General also noted the need to improve accessibility for persons with disabilities at UN Headquarters. “I share your frustration, and sometimes I feel ashamed, at how difficult it can be to navigate our building here in New York,” he said, adding that efforts are underway to improve the Organization’s facilities by rebuilding rooms and adding ramps, among other measures.

Events marking the Day in New York included a multimedia presentation by the UN Mine Action Service on disability rights. There were also musical performances by Tamas Erdi, a Hungarian pianist who lost his eyesight shortly after he was born, and Rudely Interrupted, an Australian rock band almost entirely composed of members who have physical and intellectual disabilities.

Meanwhile, with an estimated 1 billion people on course to gain access to the Internet in the coming years, it is essential to ensure that people with disabilities are taken into account, a senior UN official said today in Hyderabad, India.

“The access needs to take into account the diversity of the world’s population, the diversity of languages but also the diversity of people with different abilities,” Jomo Kwame Sundaram, Assistant Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, said at the opening of a gathering of the Internet Governance Forum.

The four-day meeting is bringing together representatives from government, the private sector, civil society, the Internet community, international organizations and the media to discuss how to make the web accessible to the greatest number of people while guaranteeing that cyberspace remains safe, secure and reflective of the diversity of the world’s people.

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UN marks entry into force of global pact on disability rights

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today hailed the entry into force of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) as “a new dawn in the fight for the well-being of people with disabilities,” at a special commemorative event held in the hall of the United Nations General Assembly.