Monday, 19 Aug 2019
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BASR’s Director of Program Development addresses UN General Assembly’s High-Level Meeting on Disability and Development PDF Print E-mail

BASR’s Director of Program Development, Rima Canawati, addressed UN General Assembly’s high-level meeting on disability and development in New York on behalf of civil society, in participation of more than 800 organizations, along with world leaders comprising presidents, ministers and deputies of the 194 UN member states, who gathered for encouraging the international community to embed disability as a cross-cutting issue on the global development agenda, including the emerging post-2015 United Nations development framework.

“Together let us turn a new page in the history of the United Nations by giving full meaning to the outcome document of this meeting”, remarked UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, at the opening segment of the 68th General Assembly plenary, urging all the participants representing persons with disabilities to adopt the outcome document seeking to promote disability inclusive development. The General Assembly President John Ashe pointed out that in all eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), there was absence of reference to the rights of people with disability, upon which the international community realized that it’s impossible to reach those goals without incorporating the rights, well-being and perspective of persons with disabilities.

Following the opening segment, two round-table discussions were held by the Assembly: the first on “International and regional cooperation and partnerships for disability inclusive development”, and the second on “the post-2015 agenda and inclusive development for persons with disabilities”.

“Despite all progress made all over the world in terms of promoting the rights of people with disabilities particularly after the adoption of the UNCRPD, yet people with disabilities are still excluded from development and face a lot of challenges due to attitudinal, environmental and institutional barriers that hinder their participation in society especially in developing countries.

In order to create the "inclusive world for all" that we want, we have to simply consider people with disabilities as human beings who have potential and can contribute to the social development of their communities, rather than objects of charity who constitute a burden to their families and communities.”, stated Ms. Canawati during the second round-table, emphasizing the necessity of making the voice of people with disability strongly heard in all decisions and issues affecting them.

In the same context, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said 80 per cent of persons with disabilities were of working age and the same percentage live in developing countries.  Too many of them live in poverty, suffer from social exclusion and lack access to education, employment, health care as well as social and legal support systems.  Women and girls with disabilities often experience double discrimination, and it was therefore necessary to emphasize the gender dimension of a disability-inclusive development agenda.  Quoting International Labour Organization (ILO) statistics, he warned that excluding persons with disability could cost economies as much as 7 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP). “Let us proclaim in the loudest voice possible: disability is not inability”, he said.

At the end of the meeting, United Nations Deputy Secretary-General, Jan Elliasson, delivered the closing remarks stemming from the participants, reiterating their determination to attain the (MDGs) and implement more ambitious development strategies, as well as stressing the need to establish monitoring and accountability mechanisms, along with universal goals, which are adoptable to both global and local settings.