The rights of persons with disabilities must be directly addressed by the post-2015 development agenda, United Nations officials on September 23 urged a high-level meeting of the General Assembly, where world leaders pledged to work together on national and international policies that enhance and promote disability-inclusive development.

Reaffirming the international community’s resolve in advancing the rights of all persons with disabilities, the Assembly’s high-level meeting on disability and development adopted an agreed outcome stressing the need to ensure accessibility for and inclusion of persons with disabilities in all aspects of development and of giving them due consideration in the emerging post-2015 UN development agenda.

“Disability is part of the human condition; almost everyone will be temporarily or permanently impaired at some point in life,” Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said at the opening of the meeting.

“Yet far too many people with disabilities live in poverty. Too many suffer from social exclusion. Too many are denied access to education, employment, health care, and social and legal support systems.”
Persons with disabilities make up the largest minority in the world, with more than one billion people living with some form of disability. Eighty percent are of working age and the vast majority live in developing countries.

“All of us suffer when communities are divided, just as all of us benefit when communities are united,” Ban Ki-moon told more than 800 representatives of organizations of persons with disabilities who attended the event.

In his remarks, the Secretary General underlined that persons with disabilities are an integral part in achieving the eight anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) before their deadline, and in shaping the post-2015 development agenda.

Agreed by world leaders at a UN summit in 2000, the MDGs set specific targets on poverty alleviation, education, gender equality, child and maternal health, environmental stability, HIV/AIDS reduction, and a global partnership for development. However, no goal directly addresses the rights of persons with disabilities.

“We must further strengthen the international normative framework on disability and development,” Ban Ki-moon said. We must act now to remove barriers to access to physical environments, transportation and information and communications. And we must not only lift the physical barriers – but also the barriers in attitudes that fuel stigma and discrimination.”

Also speaking at the meeting, the President of the General Assembly, John Ashe called on member states that have not yet done so to ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). To date, 134 countries have ratified or acceded to the Convention.-VNA