Beijing, China, 7 July 2016
Your Excellency Mr. Wang Yong, State Councilor of China,
Ms. Zhang Hai Di, Chairperson of China Disabled Persons Federation,
Ms Sylvia Judith Quan Chang, Vice Chair of the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities,
Excellencies, Members of Diplomatic Core,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Ni Hao! Good afternoon!
Thank you all for being here today to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
I am particularly grateful to the Government of China and the China Disabled Persons’ Federation for inviting me to address this meeting, and for their longstanding work and advocacy on behalf of people with disabilities.
As of 27 June, there have been 165 ratifications of the Convention. That means there have been 165 solemn commitments to equality, and to eliminating physical and cultural barriers to the full participation of all sectors of society. But it also means that 28 Member States have still not made this pledge. I urge them to do so without further delay. This is a matter of basic human dignity and solidarity.
Human rights, including social, economic, cultural, civil and political rights, are all for people in all countries at all times, without discrimination of any kind. Ten years after its adoption, the Convention is doing its part in creating more inclusive societies for people with disabilities and their communities around the world.
There have been significant steps to advance implementation at the national, regional and global levels. China itself has reduced the numbers of people with disabilities living in poverty, and has mainstreamed disability in national development programmes, for example, in access to health care and social protection.
It has made access to buildings, and to relevant information, mandatory for people with disabilities.
Enacting mandatory measures is the best way to change social attitudes and to ensure that the voices of people with disabilities are heard.
Ladies and gentlemen,
While we have much to celebrate, many women, children and men with disabilities all over the world still experience challenges every day. We need concrete measures to promote inclusive and accessible societies and development agendas. We need to ensure equal opportunities and create enabling conditions so that people with disabilities can participate in all aspects of development, and in the civic and cultural life of their countries.
I am pleased to note that this was the focus of the 9th Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, held at the United Nations last month.
The international community is now implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, with its central pledge to leave no one behind. That puts people with disabilities at the forefront of sustainable development, with a renewed commitment from the international community to mainstream disability as a cross-cutting issue in many of the targets and indicators related to the Sustainable Development Goals.
Another area for action is humanitarian crises, which can have a disproportionate effect on people with disabilities. At the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul in May, 70 agencies and organizations came together to sign the Charter for the Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action.
This Charter aims to strengthen the protection and safety of people with disabilities in emergencies, and to help them to participate in preparedness and response programmes.
Around the world, the rights and wellbeing of people with disabilities are being recognized as a priority and integrated into social and humanitarian policies, programmes and activities at all levels. Let us continue to make further strides.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude to the Government of China and China Disabled Persons’ Federation for your many decades of leadership and cooperation with the United Nations. For too long, in many countries, people with disabilities have been treated in ways that run counter to the values for which the United Nations stands and fights every day.
Since the adoption of this landmark Convention ten years ago, we have seen important advances. The world is now benefiting from the talents, perspectives and contributions of people with disabilities that previously went unheard and under-appreciated.
This benefits us all, and I thank the activists on the frontlines of this struggle for their commitment and engagement.
Now we must go further still.
We must build awareness of the specific needs of people with disabilities, particularly when they may be subjected to additional discrimination on grounds of age, gender and ethnicity.
People with disabilities must become an integral part of national, regional and global thinking and planning, not only in areas that specifically concern them, but in decisions that affect everyone. As the international community strives toward inclusive societies and sustainable development, we count on the continued support of China and the China Disabled Persons’ Federation, within and outside the United Nations.
I wish you great success for this important meeting.
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