UNDIS: the UN response to our demands for disability inclusion


This past June 2019, the United Nations launched a Disability Inclusion Strategy, aimed at making the organization inclusive for all. UNDIS lays the foundation for the UN leadership, strategic planning, programming and procurement to become inclusive of persons with disabilities, setting adequate standards on accessibility and participation. In line with this, UNDIS calls for more persons with disabilities to be working in the United Nations and to be better supported by the Organization.

Born out of the recommendations of a UN system-wide assessment on disability-related policies and practices led in 2018 by the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities, UNDIS is the result of the hard work of advocates—individuals and organizations--from all around the world, inside and outside the UN system.

In its announcement, the UN Secretary General rightly reminded the international community that advancing the rights of persons with disabilities is a matter of justice as well as an investment in our common future.  Without a plan for this, the global commitments toward Sustainable Development and leaving no one behind by 2030 are not possible.


UNDIS: a policy with an accountability framework

UNDIS is a strategy of action that consists mainly of a policy and an accountability framework, including a set of targets and indicators against which progress will be measured, and mechanisms for coordination and technical guidance in its implementation. 

The policy states that the rights of persons with disabilities will be systematically embeded in the work of the United Nations, to ensure their participation on an equal basis with others in all UN programs and interventions around the world, as well as internally, in the structure of all its agencies, country teams and programs. 

The accountability framework includes a series of 15 common-system indicators focused on leadership, strategic planning and management; inclusiveness; programming and organizational culture; and an accountability scorecard on disability inclusion for UN Country teams.

The strategy acknowledges the vast and diverse technical resurces across the UN system and the  intersectionalities connecting the work of all agencies and programs. This is why, instead of creating a dedicated agency or program, UNDIS aims at capitalising on this diversity, assigning roles to all staff, their agencies, teams and programs as promoters and facilitators of the inclusion of persons with disabilities. In this decentralised model, technical disability units and focal points serve as catalizers, coordinating and providing technical guidance to ensure that everyone is able to produce the expected advancements.

Implementation and timeline

In its current form, UNDIS will be implemented for a period of 5 years, after which an external review will evaluate what changes and adjustments are needed. Monitoring and implementation of UNDIS will be led by Under-Secretary-General Ana María Menéndez, who will provide guidance and coordination support for all aspects of its implementation. All UN entities are asked to report annually on their progress and to appoint custodians, who will have primary responsibility for the work and reporting towards each different specific indicator. 
It is very encouraging to see the United Nations leading by example. We are very hopeful of UNDIS laying the ground for a system that fully promotes and upholds the rights of persons with disabilities; one that leaves no one behind.  Learn more about it. 

Watch the UN Secretary General's announcement of UNDIS at the UN headquarters:


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UNDIS: the UN response to our demands for disability inclusion

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UN Secretary General announces the UNDIS, a system-wide strategy for disability inclusion

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