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UN Launches New Disability Inclusion Strategy

UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, launched a new UN Disability Inclusion Strategy yesterday, June 12, during the 12th Session of the annual Conference of States Parties to the UN Convention of Rights of Persons with Disabilities (COSP).

The Secretary General said that the strategy aims to raise the standards of the UN’s performance on disability inclusion across the board, and action to bring about the unified and transformative change we need. Disability inclusion is not only a fundamental human right, it is central to the promise of the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development, he said.

“When we fight to secure those rights, we move our world closer to upholding the core values and principles of the United Nations Charter”, he explained. “When we remove policies or biases or obstacles to opportunity for persons with disabilities, the whole world benefits”.

In UN's Disability and Development Report: Realizing the Sustainable Development Goals by, for and with persons with disabilities, 2018, the Secretary-General underlines that a better future can only be achieved with the full participation of everyone, including persons with disabilities. Upholding the rights and ensuring the full inclusion of the world’s 1 billion persons with disabilities is not only a moral imperative, but a practical necessity.

He emphasizes that despite the strong commitment expressed by the international community for inclusive and sustainable development, persons with disabilities continue to face significant challenges to their full participation in society; including negative attitudes, stigma, discrimination and lack of accessibility in physical and virtual environments. 

"Our shared duty is to tackle prejudice and misinformation and find new approaches and tools to work for and with persons with disabilities. The present report aims to advance our efforts to remove barriers and empower persons with disabilities to make positive changes in their lives and communities. This is the first report on progress on disability inclusion in the context of the 2030 Agenda."

Commenting on the report during the COSP event in New York, WBU's Programme Officer, Accessibility in Smart Cities, Hannes J. Lagrelius said "accessibility is not just a means to an end, it’s a human right. It is also an approach to build inclusion for all."

Lagrelius points out that the report findings enable PWDs (Persons with disabilities) to demand accountability in informed and confident ways. It also provides disability stakeholders with baseline information that better equips them to contribute towards delivering on the promise of the 2030 Agenda. Full report (PDF) can be downloaded on the UN website​. Also watch a video commentary by Lagrelius on WBU YouTube channel.​

Meanwhile, WBU CEO, Jose Viera said "The disability community must receive enough technical assistance & organisational capacity building support to engage meaningfully in global processes, like Voluntary National Reports". He was speaking at Civil Society Forum under the auspice of the 12th Session of the Conference of States Parties to the UN CRPD on June 10. More information about the CSO Forum is available on IDA website
WBU CEO, Jose Viera (left) speaks at  German mission side event during COSP 12
WBU CEO, Jose Viera (left) speaks at  a side event organized by Permanent Mission of Germany during COSP 12

The CEO also spoke at a side event organized by Permanent Mission of Germany, about the theme "Towards a barrier free inclusive society for pwds" He stressed, among other things, that persons with disabilities should be viewed as a diverse group and that desegregated data on how many we are, our needs, and where we live must be prioritized to underscore strategies and polices to implement the UNCRPD and Agenda 2030. 

Our conclusion following the event is that challenges exist both in developed and less developed countries to put words into practice on the promise of inclusion.
More information about the 12 Session of COSP is available on IDA website.