In his opening remarks at the Conference of State Parties to the CRPD (CoSP12), the UN Secretary General offered an eloquent endorsement to the UN Disability Inclusion Strategy.
He referred to ILO economic studies that back the notion of advancing the rights of persons with disabilities not only as a matter of justice, but also of investment in our common future.
He elaborated on the long list of areas in which participation and access of persons with disabilities must improve, and spoke frankly about the results of the comprehensive review led by the Special Rapporteur, on the inclusion of persons with disabilities across the UN system: "it is not a pretty picture. The report revealed a lack of understanding and systemic approaches to ensure that we fulfill our responsibilities towards persons with disabilities."
In response to these shortcomings, Mr. Guterres announced the creation of the UN Disability Inclusion Strategy, to not only enable common strategies, actions and practices to fill in the inclusion gaps, but also to ensure accountability across agencies, programs and country work. "We are establishing clear and concrete benchmarks on critical areas including leadership, strategic planning, accessibility, participation and programming" among others.
"I want the United Nations to be an employer of choice for persons with disabilities, and I want our humanitarian, development and peace operations to fully recognise and advance their rights".
He used the accessibility problems at the very same Headquarters of the UN, to illustrate the shortcomings, and the need for change: "It is very simple: we cannot be a platform for change, when persons with disabilities cannot access our platform to speak."
We thank the Secretary General for his leadership and momentous decision to advance the inclusion of persons with disabilities in and across the UN System. Listen to his full speech