Persons with disabilities should have a leading say on the policies that impact them, a United Nations human rights expert told the General Assembly, while stressing the important role that member states play to ensure those disabled benefit from and contribute to development.
“We need to use this critical opportunity to address inclusion of persons with disabilities at the core of development policies. Times are changing [...] No more excuses!” Catalina Devandas Aguilar, the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities, said as she briefed the Assembly’s main body dealing with social, humanitarian and cultural issues (Third Committee).
Expressing particular concern at the inequality faced by persons with disabilities, she highlighted the necessity to adopt disability-inclusive development strategies introduced in her report, which includes non-discrimination, accessibility and support service requirement.
According to Ms. Aguilar, the delivery of disability specific support and affordable assistive devices is perhaps one of the biggest challenges worldwide, but at the same time, an essential precondition if the international community is really aiming at achieving equality in practice.
“Action and full cooperation will be required from a broad range of actors,” the Special Rapporteur underlined, adding that “however, representative organisations of persons with disabilities need to be closely consulted in all policy development and implementation processes, whether disability-specific or mainstream.”
Also highlighted in the report is the dual nature of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which is a human rights instrument but also a development tool.
“Human rights and development are inextricably linked, whereas the Convention can offer normative guidance for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) can propel unprecedented progress in implementing human rights on the ground,” the expert said.
Special Rapporteurs and independent experts are appointed by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a specific human rights theme or a country situation. The positions are honorary and the experts are not UN staff, nor are they paid for their work.