Macharia Kamau: A very good morning to everybody. We have to start on time this morning because we are on a very tight schedule. Let me urge us to be precise today in our interactions.
We have been very pleased with the progress that we have been able to achieve over the last few days. We seem to have made excellent progress. We have been able to exchange views on a very wide range of issues. And our sessions, both formal and informal, have been received very well.
We, as members of the bureau, I as the president, my vice presidents, Bangladesh, Bulgaria, El Salvador and Israel are satisfied that the Conference of States Parties is moving in a manner consistent with our expectations. Thank you all very much for your engagement, enthusiasm and the knowledge you have shared.
Ladies and gentlemen, you recognize that we still have a very long list of speakers. I have been trying, and so have my vice chairs, to urge you to keep your statements to the limit of three minutes. We are now up against time. I'm afraid if we are not able to contain ourselves and our enthusiasm for sharing ideas we will have to drop out some people because we simply don't have the time.
We have already squeezed the panel discussions to a point where we have not been able to have as interactive a debate as we would have liked. This is unfortunate. So please, I plead with you one more time to keep your statements brief. Focus on what you need to have heard and understood. Please allow the rest of your statement to be put on the Web site.
Everybody will be able to see your information on the Web site. The Secretariat will be able to access it there and ensure that in the post-sessional report that your views are reflected in the post-sessional report. Don't feel that if you don't say what you need to on the floor that your views will not be taken up. They will be taken up. This is our commitment to you.
You have a light that flashes after three minutes. Please don't ignore that light. It is meant to ensure you wind up. We will begin with Syria who is first on my list.
Please put your hand up, Syria. Okay. Syria is not in the room. We will move to Albania. Albania, please put your hand up. You have the floor.
Albania: Thank you, Mr. President. Congratulations to you and the members of the bureau. I will leave the whole statement to be posted on the Web site. We will save minutes.
The ratification of the CRPD gives me the pleasure to take the floor today as a representative of a State Party to the Convention. The rights of persons with disabilities are provided for by the Albanian Constitution. Issues related to disability have been integrated in various strategic and development strategies.
There are 112,000 persons with disabilities in Albania making up 4.2% of the population. This figure is increasing. Over the last two decades, the public services regarding persons with disabilities in Albania were mainly focused on medical support. By signing the CRPD my country started working to ensure that the persons with disabilities are properly supported and cared for and to create conditions for their rightful inclusion in the society.
In complying with the requirements of the Convention in 2012 the government initiated the process of drafting the law on inclusion and accessibility of the persons with disabilities. This is based on the twin track approach.
An internal group reviewed the legislation. The civil society and groups of interest were part of the process and consistently consulted on the provisions.
At the same time, the National Plan of Action of the implementation of the CRPD set out the basis and reforms to be taken by various institutions.
As part of the CRPD, Albania has worked on raising awareness about the Convention by organizing capacity-building activities for government officials, creation of monitoring mechanisms, training judges and prosecutors, etc. As a state party to the Convention, my country is committed to engage and work to make sure that the disability issues are properly and sufficiently included in the post-2015 development agenda.
We look forward to the high-level meeting in September. Thank you.
Macharia Kamau: Please hold applause today. I thank the distinguished representative from Albania. Wonderful statement. I give the floor to Ecuador. You have three minutes.
Ecuador: Thank you, President. This Sixth Session of the Conference of States Parties is a new occasion to promote the inclusion of the rights of persons with disabilities in the framework of a new agenda and with the new development objectives.
From this perspective, Ecuador has supported the prepping process. My country believes persons with disabilities have a key role in a diverse society and development. This development should benefit from this. Since 2007, Ecuador has had the task within its society to recognize and promote the rights of persons with disabilities.
In 2007 my country signed the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities which was ratified in April 2008. That's more than five years ago. The promotion of the rights of persons with disabilities is set out as a state policy prohibiting discrimination and promoting actions to raise awareness of society on the rights of persons of this group.
This is always based on the constitution of my country. The president of the republic made an urgent call relating to the system of prevention of disabilities to improve care, technical assistance and medical inputs to provide accessibility by strengthening and developing public infrastructure. This was also to ensure the registration of persons with disabilities.
The vice president of the republic had the task of developing public policies on this as a cross-cutting aspect of the public sector structure to improve the quality of the lives of persons with disabilities. In June 2009 my government declared a revolution of persons with disabilities in order to put an end to disrespect that most persons with disabilities suffered from. This was in line with the Convention to have a barrier-free Ecuador.
We implemented the first step of identifying geo-referencing in regions of Ecuador, including the Galapagos Islands in order to create solidarity. This mission went house-to-house to all persons with physical, mental and auditive disabilities.
This mission led to a writer with a disability who had a great social vision which helped him. This mission was about monetary transfers for families and persons with severe disabilities in order to ensure their care. Chairperson, may I emphasize that Ecuador's ratification of the international Convention on persons with disabilities set the path for our state policy?
We have a rich constitution for the care and rights of persons with disabilities. This has enabled us to provide comprehensive care for persons with disabilities. As a special guest last year at the Fifth Session of States Parties, the then vice president of Ecuador urged all countries that had not yet been a party to the Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities to become one because this instrument helps to foster coordinated actions and incorporate new proposals for prevention, labor and education and cultural aspects for this priority group.
Macharia Kamau: Hold the applause. I thank the distinguished representative from Ecuador. Thank you for your statement.
I now give the floor to Namibia. You have the floor.
Namibia: Mr. chairman, let me join those who spoke before in congratulating you. Members of the bureau and the United Nations Secretariat, thank you for the excellent manner in which you conduct these proceedings. I am confident that our conversations and subsequent discussions will provide a better understanding of the challenges before us.
Namibia's commitment to the rights of persons with disabilities comes well before the Convention was drafted. In 1997, the government adopted a national policy on disability, aimed at improving the quality of life for persons with disabilities, and ensuring they enjoy the same Rights and opportunities like other citizens.
It provides a framework for mainstreaming disability into all government programs. Subsequently, the assembly passed Act 27 of 2004 for monitoring the implementation of the national policy.
Following the ratification of the Convention and the optional protocol in 2007, Namibia aligned its domestic laws to the provisions, and the office of the prime minister coordinates the implementation of the Convention throughout the country.
Namibia has designed empowerment programs for persons with disabilities to improve their skills and knowledge in areas of project management. The government signed an initiative to provide technical support for income-generating projects for persons with disabilities. The government further facilitated the establishment of the disability unit at the University of Namibia, which brought increased enrolment of students with disability.
Namibia made great strides in education for persons with disabilities, by instituting special training programs for teachers, and mandated inclusion in all government schools.
The government waived tuition fees for primary education, and introduced programs for vulnerable children, increasing the enrollment of children with disabilities.
While the initiative is faced with many challenges, the government of Namibia has undertaken vigorous efforts in addressing the needs of persons with disabilities, in maintaining their human dignity and independence.
It is also worth mentioning that Namibia is one of few countries providing a grant to unemployed persons with disabilities, providing them with state funded funeral benefits upon their demise.
In addition, more funds are dedicated to awareness programs promoting social integration in all spheres of life.
In conclusion, Namibia recognizes that there are gaps between policies and practice, as well as challenges in the efforts in mainstreaming disability. It is our hope that the international community will consider the inclusion of disability in the Post-2015 Development Agenda in order to create the genuinely inclusive society and development for all. I thank you.
Macharia Kamau: I thank the ambassador of Namibia, and for all for adhering to a strict timeline. I now give the floor to Malaysia. You have the floor.
Female Speaker: My delegation would like to thank you. Malaysia joins others in congratulating you on your election.
Malaysia ratified the Convention in 2010. Prior to this, they adhered to the act of 2008, and have a policy and plan of action since 2007.
The government has introduced inclusion development as the core of a national development agenda, from 2011-2015. Advocacy and online registration of persons with disabilities via information systems have been aggressively promoted, to provide better systems for them.
Many have benefited from the services provided by the government. This includes hospital benefits, discounts on transportation, drivers licenses, and financial assistance.
Mr. President, implementations of various programs and activities for the life quality of persons with disabilities are undertaken vigorously. Since 2008 Malaysia has taken on a partnership with JAYCA to introduce employment for persons with disabilities included a job coaching program which provides training to government officials. This provides transportation officials knowledge of the Asia Pacific region too. Encouraging persons with disabilities to be independent, the government has introduced a business encouragement scheme for entrepreneurs, and for them to employ other disabled persons.
A program was introduced to eradicate poverty and raise standards of living. This program provides skills training for persons with disabilities.
Malaysia has also introduced projects in May 2012, a special business model for the economic empowerment of this group. The model is based on the principle of social enterprise to maximize outcomes. Civil society organizations encourage the objective of reaching out to society.
The programs providing skills training also address rehabilitation. The future development in Malaysia will have a dual approach, with CRPD as a global mandate, and for the Asia Pacific region. Malaysia is fully committed to both mandates. Thank you, Mr. President.
Macharia Kamau: I thank the delegate from Malaysia. Now I give the floor to Rehabilitation International. You have the floor.
Rehabilitation International: Thank you. Rehabilitation International conveys its thanks for the opportunity to make this intervention today.
Five years after the accession of the CRPD, a majority of persons with disabilities have remained marginalized without basic services and unable to enjoy equal Rights. No doubt, the CRPD has created opportunities, especially for increased awareness of issues of marginalization, basic services, denial of opportunities to contribute from development processes, etc.
For those of us working on the ground, we know increased awareness has not necessarily translated to an urgency of the need to address the issues, nor has there been increased will to increase resources, especially in developing countries where funding is never enough to meet ever growing needs.
Much needs to be done, Mr. President. We need more mechanisms and coordinated service delivery in carrying out policy reforms, to ensure the vision of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Is realized sooner rather than later, for change.
Not just by good intentions, but more importantly, by resources. This will create a meaningful difference in the lives of persons with disabilities. In this context, my organization Rehabilitation International works to promote the rights and inclusion of persons with disabilities both through advocacy and through concrete initiatives towards these goals.
Rehabilitation International believes it has the capacity to provide knowledge, experience, and expertise through its global network of persons with disabilities, professionals, service providers, and other partners to address gaps identified by the U.N. in achieving full inclusion and enjoyments of the Rights of persons with disabilities.
Rehabilitation International is mindful of the fact that there are varying degrees of development in different countries. But there is so much learning to share and build upon. This is where the value of a network of Stakeholders including persons with disabilities and some professional service providers and others can help governments ensure that disability is part of mainstream policy and that coordination of policies and services is enabled through national strategies and structures for effective implementation.
Such strategies and structures must build on expertise and evidence through engagements of experts, including persons with disabilities. The multi-disciplinary nature of our membership operating on various levels gives Rehabilitation International the capacity to provide information, share best practices, and guide implementation of the CRPD in a way that makes a real and achievable difference in the lives of persons with disabilities.
Rehabilitation International has the experience and expertise to make recommendations to governments as to what can be done to address gaps. It can also provide concrete suggestions on how to do it. We won't just be saying to governments what should be done, but recommending ways on how to do it.
We believe this is a missing link in the realization of the Rights of persons with disabilities, and will assist in the achievement of the Post-2015 Development Agenda. Thank you, Mr. President.
Macharia Kamau: Thank you. Now I give the floor to Estonia. You have the floor.
Estonia: Thank you, Mr. President. Distinguished delegates and representatives of civil society, Estonia aligns itself on the statement of the European Union, and would like to offer additional remarks.
In a slightly shortened form, assured the full statement will be on the web site, thank you for the opportunity to provide more discussion. It is my honor to be the first to take the floor on behalf of Estonia since the ratification of the Convention in 2012.
I can assure you that Estonia is attentive to the rights of persons with disabilities, a long process, and major developments have been made since regaining our independence in the early 90s.
Non-discrimination of persons with disabilities is on the forefront, and guaranteed by our Constitution. It is also in the special equal treatment act.
It is one of the five pillars of our national health strategy, with equal health strategies in line with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
Mr. President, on the practical side, I would like to bring two examples. First, my city. Estonia has the highest level of Internet freedom in the world, and possibly some of the best e-solutions. These help people with disabilities like everyone else in the public. There are also numerous examples presented in more detail in the informal panel, which was yesterday.
Secondly, we are currently reforming our insurance system for people with reduced ability to work due to various health reasons. This gives further services to prevent incapacity to work, as well as accommodating work environments for persons with disabilities.
This marks a pragmatic shift to more active intervention to ensure employment and adequate levels of living for persons with disabilities.
In conclusion, let me underline that economic empowerment is important not only for the persons, but also for the economic development of the state as a whole. Thank you.
Macharia Kamau: Thank you. Now I recognize the ambassador of Belgium. Madam, you have the floor.
Belgium: Thank you for the opportunity to make a statement. Mr. President, Belgium is gratified to share the measures it has taken since last year to continue the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
Belgium is still awaiting consideration by the U.N. of its July 2011 report. But for the main part, the Belgium Disability Forum currently has a report in connection with visits organized in the Sixth Consultative Councils for persons with disabilities. These fall under both federal and municipal authorities.
This report will reflect the reality of daily life of persons with disabilities, and will include 21 recommendations for the government. The results with the Committee of Experts on persons with disabilities, as well as the report, represent important tools in evaluating the implementation of the results of the CRPD in our country. The streaming is the basis. This means that the aspects of disability must be taken into account in all political levels of authority and as quickly as possible.
Consequently of the rules of ratification of the CRPD, to guarantee and further the rights of persons with disabilities, a specific article was inserted in the Belgium Constitution. It states that each persons with disabilities has the right to benefits, depending on the nature and seriousness of his or her disability. The measures of empowerment, and for professional and social integration are also included.
One of the things of the fourth session of the Conference of States Parties in 2011 was political life. This critical topic is also linked to legal capacity of persons with mental disabilities. This was the case in Belgium. Legal capacity is one factor for effective implementation of the CRPD, and reorganization of persons with disabilities and equal footing with other citizens.
Belgium is gratified to announce that a new law was adopted on the legal capacities of persons with disabilities. It brings in line various programs for persons with disabilities. Justice plays an important role for civil society, which welcomes this new law. It is important to finalize the provisions as quickly as possible, in accordance with Article 33 of the CRPD.
Belgium has acquired proceedings for the structural systems for persons with disabilities, in the process of taking decisions at all levels of power. The first evaluations have taken place. Now they allow us to draw lessons learned. Thank you sir.
Macharia Kamau: I thank you.
I now give the floor to Ukraine. You have the floor.
Ukraine, please put your hand up. No? Okay. I now give the floor to Japan. Japan, you have the floor.
Japan: Thank you. I would like to thank you for this opportunity to address the Sixth Session of the Conference of States Parties. Since 2007, Japan has been working towards the conclusion of the Convention. The board for policy reform was established in 2009. The basic law for persons with disabilities was amended in 2011. The legal concept was stipulated for the first time.
In June of this year, the Act for the Promotion of Employment of Persons with disabilities was amended. The new acted was formulated. To realize the goal of ensuring the possibility of employment, the second act prohibits undue discrimination in relation to employment. The act also stipulates an obligation on the parts of employers to provide accommodations to employees.
The number of employees in the private sector has increased by 4.4%.
The legal employment rate of persons with disabilities has been raised from 1.8% to 2.0% since April. We hope these efforts will promote the rights of persons with disabilities to work.
The new act was formulated in response to the call from the civil society for persons with disabilities. It materializes the principles of our basic law and prohibits undue discrimination. This is an important obligation on the part of the private sector.
Japan promotes the empowerment of persons with disabilities and their inclusion in society. Japan has been conducting a wide range of efforts to ensure assistance. Japan has made substantive contributions to areas of human security. The strategy and action plan provides Asia-Pacific with the first inclusive development goals. It also includes disaster reduction management, which is an area of interest in Japan.
Our knowledge will help us with this strategy.
Japan's policies have been upgraded. We look forward to the high-level meeting on disability and development in September and hope to see the momentum increase. Japan will continue to promote human rights and respect the dignity of persons with disabilities.
Macharia Kamau: I thank the distinguished representative of Japan and recognize the Republic of Korea. You have the floor.
Republic of Korea: Thank you. I would like to join the previous speakers in expressing my gratitude to the members of the bureau and Secretariat for the work in organizing this meeting. Since the ratification on the Convention of Rights of Persons with Disabilities the Republic of Korea has been strengthening its efforts in the Convention.
The rights of persons with disabilities are a priority area in the efforts to implement the Convention. I would like to underline the following points and show the progress of the Korean government in this field.
It is crucial to incorporate persons with disabilities into the basic social protection system and provide them with the benefits of a social safety net. This is also important for the work on poverty of persons with disabilities. We always need to take into account the needs of persons with disabilities.
In 2010, the Republic of Korea introduced a pension system for persons with disabilities which aims at enhancing income security and reducing poverty for persons with disabilities. Under the system, persons with severe disabilities will be provided with pensions depending on their income levels and economic conditions.
Persons with less severe disabilities will also be provided with various social benefits tailored to their needs, including allowance and tax reduction.
We need to further encourage the participation of persons with disabilities in every sector of society, including political, economic and social areas. Persons with disabilities should not remain as mere recipients of social benefits. Their voices should be heard and considered. We need to adopt a disability-sensitive approach in all policy-making and implementation processes.
The Korean government adopted the five-year plan on policies for disabled persons in making a community where persons with or without disabilities can live together.
There has been assessment of policies.
We also established the Policy Coordination Committee for Disabled Persons with participation of persons with disabilities to reflect their needs in the establishment and implementation of the relevant policies.
States need to pay more attention to the provision of rehabilitation services for disabled persons and more resources should be dedicated for this purpose.
Public and private partnerships should be utilized in the course of delivering rehabilitation service. The Korean government provides various community-based rehabilitation services through major public health centers. We also provide comprehensive rehabilitation services such as education and vocational training through the welfare centers for disabled persons.
In October 2012, the Republic of Korea hosted the United Nations high-level meeting with the strategy was adopted for inclusive development in Asia. We hope the full strategy will facilitate in achieving disability-inclusive development in the region.
We look forward to the high-level meeting of the United Nations General Assembly on disability and development there year in New York. We are confident this meeting will be a landmark occasion in mainstreaming disability in the international development agenda. Thank you.
Macharia Kamau: Continue to try and keep statements to three minutes. I give the floor to Brazil. Brazil, you have the floor.
Brazil: Thank you. Follow delegates, ladies and gentlemen, we are pleased to be here today after a few weeks after the successful adoption of a treaty with access to books for visually-impaired persons worldwide. Brazil urges all member states to address this issue that will benefit hundreds of people who are blind or visually-impaired.
A new agenda in the post-2015 agenda will increase fundamental human rights.
Similar strategies could be explored in the international agenda for building a development model that promotes the inclusion of persons with disabilities and ensures accessibility for all the context of commitments in the post-2015 agenda.
It will be important to have models of public policies for the inclusion of persons with disabilities based on inter-sectoral programs at every stage of implementation. The agenda will seek support of international corporations to establish plans to promote the rights of persons with disabilities from the perspective of sustainable development, human rights and social inclusion.
It's fundamental that we focus our initiatives based on a clear understanding that the agenda will include the process of the assessment of the MDGs and the preparation of objectives in the opening working group.
Based on the results of this process we may achieve an agenda to support global efforts to promote the effective integration of the economic, social and environment pillars of sustainable development.
The commitments to be undertaken should facilitate eliminate barriers that limit persons with disabilities to exercise their rights. In recent years, the refinement of the CRPD in Brazil has implemented a profound shift in implementing the rights of persons with disabilities.
Living without Limits was presented yesterday. Brazil is fully engaged in the OAS context working with the other countries of our region to improve the implementing of rights of persons with disabilities. Currently, we are implementing a technical corporation program on the rights of persons with disabilities.
Finally, it was an honor to have contributed to the preparations of the high-level meeting by hosting the regional consultation of the Americas. This was May 17th and 18th of this year. This helped to strengthen the commitment of the countries of the Americas to promote equality of persons with disabilities in the context of the development agenda in post-2015.
Macharia Kamau: I thank you. I give the floor to Myanmar.
Myanmar: Myanmar decided to become a state party in December of 2011. The theme of this meeting is the most relevant and timely message we need to send out to the world community today. We must ensure the rights of persons with disabilities to live adequately together with other people.
While much progress has been made, rights of disabled persons are still neglected in many parts of the world for various reasons.
We must increase our efforts of this noble Convention.
In 2008, a survey showed that 1.2 million persons had some disability. The intitule plan of action 2010-2012 has already been implemented. A five-year project is being drawn up to uplift the livelihood of disabled persons in the country.
A law protecting the rights of persons with disabilities is being drafted. It is expected to be enacted soon upon the approval of the government. This law will pave the way for persons with disabilities to fully enjoy the rights. The government is also conducting various training programs in the country.
Despite progress, a lot remains to be done in our country. As a developing country, we need technical and financial assistance to provide much-needed care to persons with disabilities. My delegation believes disabled persons will enjoy a better life if education and healthcare are improved.
In conclusion, we stand ready to work together with the international community to improve the quality of life of persons with disabilities in light of this important Convention.
Macharia Kamau: I thank the delegate from Myanmar for his statement. I recognize Cuba.
Cuba: Thank you very much. We uploaded to the Web site more information on our national experience and we will summarize a few key aspects. Cuba has developed specialized assistance to persons with disabilities. Based on those rights and the principles of equity, social justice and inclusion, in providing care to these persons, in the past we have focused on viewing them as objects of social care. This has changed.
In Cuba, persons with disabilities have been established in all legal levels.
Programs and policies are being implemented in this sector.
NGOs play a key role in this regard dealing with persons with disabilities throughout the country. Cuba will soon be presenting its initial report in line with its obligations to the state party. Cuba has more than 350 centers received students with disabilities and conducts 150 specialized vocational training workshops for students.
More than 15,000 Cubans make valuable contributions to the economic development in the nation. In addition to health and education policies, we are ensuring their universal access, free of charge, to sports, culture and science.
We have played a critical role in fostering the rights of persons with disabilities in the media and other rights in society. To make effective the goals of the Convention, we have cooperated with other governments in the nation, and making social and scientific impact.
We highlight the need for these issues to be included in the Post-2015 Development Agenda in a comprehensive way, to promote greater information exchange and international cooperation in this regard. Thank you.
Macharia Kamau: I thank Cuba for their statement, and for being concise. Thank you. Now I give the floor to Indonesia. You have the floor.
Indonesia: Mr. President, the international community began efforts years ago, to reverse the mindset that has marginalized persons with disabilities. This testifies to the global commitment to the framework to maintain a just and prosperous 21st century.
While disabilities doesn't distinguish between economic categories, it does focus on the poor. We recognize the link here. For persons with disabilities living in poverty, there are many factors. In Indonesia we feel the most important thing is providing access to tools, education, health, transportation, and political participation. All this provides them the capacity to act independently with a good standard of living.
In Indonesia, there is a stern commitment by government. This should be supported by all related Stakeholders which is key to furthering economic empowerment, promoting disability-inclusive development, and ensuring equitable society.
At the regional level it is also very important. This is part and parcel of advancing the standard of living for persons with disabilities. The Network for Disability Access has been active in monitoring elections. We completed programs from 2003-2012, and a working group for ESCAP [sp?] was also recently established. Indonesia is a member. And Indonesia will host the Third Asia Pacific Meeting on disability issues in 2017 [?].
It is a new party to the CRPD, but many efforts were undertaken prior to ratification, such as expanding access to services for persons with disabilities. The government of Indonesia issued many decrees, regarding thousands of Indonesians receiving social security.
In line with the Convention, Indonesia has harmonized various legislation and disability programs. In partnership with Civil society and disability-related organizations, Indonesia is preparing many initiatives until 2020. The government has shifted its focus to a rights-based approach enabling persons with disabilities in Indonesia to enjoy the right to liberty and security while also empowering them. Special consideration for women and children with disabilities has received attention from the government. Current integration of laws and policies is being done to eliminate discrimination. Educational rehabilitation centers in West Java have been prepared, to prepare people with disabilities in the workplace. We have provided training in entrepreneurship and tools to help persons with disabilities jumpstart their businesses in 300 cities.
Before concluding, Indonesia strongly hopes these discussions can highlight achievement as well as gaps in the realization of the CRPD. Indonesia further hopes that the results of this meeting will enrich the process of meeting the needs of disability-inclusive development. In the hope of bringing global attention to the situation of persons with disabilities, and to decide on the way forward of reaching an inclusive society with a right and equitable place for persons with disabilities, in development. I thank you.
Macharia Kamau: I thank the chair. Thank you to the delegation of Indonesia. Now I recognize Cyprus. You have the floor.
Cyprus: Thank you, Mr. President. Firstly, Cyprus would like to align itself fully with the statement on behalf of the European Union, and highlight the importance of participation in organizations that are disability-related.
Economic empowerment and habilitation and other aspects of everyday living for persons with disabilities are of utmost importance. In Cyprus, after the ratification of the CRPD and for the implementation and monitoring of the Convention, the rights of persons with disabilities as a focal point organization is monitoring the implementation of actions. These actions will be included in the national action plan for disability.
Starting with equality, Cyprus has legislative framework for persons with disabilities, in accordance with the CRPD. Further, the technical aspects have suggested actions for raising awareness and learning activities.
In education, Cyprus is overseeing the Education of Children with Special Needs law, ensuring all children are included and their needs attended to.
Vocational Training organizations have suggested the evaluation of students' needs, to have a smooth transfer from school to employment.
Employment is improving in Cyprus, with laws being implemented to a number of people with disabilities being included in the workforce. The creation of a new organization for training and employment has been included, to support persons with disabilities to enter the labor market.
Lastly, independent living is enabled in Cyprus, with the financial support so people can choose where and with whom to live.
With the United Nations committee for the rights of persons with disabilities, the first report will be examined, to be submitted in July 2013. Thank you.
Macharia Kamau: Thank you, delegate of Cyprus, for your concise and very good statement. Thank you very much. Now I give the floor to Uganda.
Uganda: Distinguished delegates. Ladies and gentlemen. I congratulate you on your election to guide the work of this conference. Thank you for the opportunity to share Uganda's experience.
The ratification of the Convention by Uganda, and the optional protocol, in September 2008 was without reservation. It consolidated Uganda's commitment to protect the rights of persons with disabilities. Long before the adoption of the Convention, in 2006, Uganda was already addressing proactively the Rights of persons with disabilities, through its 1995 Constitution.
The Constitution recognizes the Rights of persons with disabilities, and provides the basis of enactment of laws and policies addressing their concerns. Uganda formulated the parliamentary act of 2005, providing representatives for persons with disabilities in parliament. Interventions towards persons with disabilities is monitored, and a framework in our country guides addressing the needs and Rights of persons with disabilities.
Further, the Persons with disabilities act, enacted in 2006, fully illustrates in objectives the Convention on the Rights of Persons with disabilities principles, as part of human diversity, the dignity of the individual, and elimination of discrimination on grounds of disability, and full inclusion of persons with disabilities and a positive attitude towards persons with disabilities.
To address ensuring adequate standards of living and protection, Uganda has strengthened its rehabilitation centers, equipage 300 persons with disabilities with employable skills. Uganda monitors education and post-secondary education options, offering scholarships to university students too.
The government is currently developing a special needs policy to address concerns of accessibility and equity in education.
The aspects to be addressed includes specialized instruction materials, curriculum adaptation, and assistive devices, and capacity building, to promote inclusion of learners in the school. 4,000 teachers have been trained in areas such as sign language, Braille, activities of daily living, and with a focus on HIV/AIDS.
The rehabilitation program in 24 districts targets people with disabilities, with approximately 150,000 U.S. dollars to undertake awareness raising and other issues.
In the financial act, the government issued a special grant for persons with disabilities in many districts, with 1.5 billion approximately 750,000 dollars, to improve standards of living and social protection. This was carried out with approximately 1.5 million dollars the following year to cover all Uganda. The estimated benefits are about 25,000 persons with disabilities. The social protection program runs a grant for persons with disabilities
Uganda partners with organizations to develop services. The national union of disabled persons in Uganda operates and has established a scheme for serving persons with disabilities in 80 districts, with a total of 800,000,000 Ugandan shillings, or 300,000 U.S. dollars.
Macharia Kamau: May I ask you to please wind down now, please?
Uganda: Finally, ensuring the promotion and protection of the Rights of persons with disabilities is our commitment. Under civil society for supporting government efforts for promoting rights and addressing the needs of persons with disabilities, it is our sincere hope that the efforts of various Stakeholders will be furthered for the benefit of persons with disabilities in Uganda. Thank you.
Macharia Kamau: I thank the delegate for her statement. Now I give the floor to Sudan.
Sudan: Mr. President, peace and blessings of god be upon you. I congratulate you and the members of your bureau on your election to preside over this conference, and I also emphasize Sudan's complete commitment to what has been included in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities which Sudan joined in 2009.
I also reiterate that Sudan will not spare any effort to fulfill its commitment to its citizens with disabilities, in audition to our complete preparedness without limit to cooperate with member states.
Stressing this, Sudan has taken firm steps towards fulfilling its commitments pursuant to the Convention. Most important of these relates to the national mechanisms of coordinating the roles and causes of relevant ministries, to fulfill the Rights of persons with disabilities.
We established a national council for the disabled in 2010, as the formal entity charged with enforcing the rights of persons with disabilities. After that we also established state councils for persons with disabilities by decrees from different governors of 15 of 18 states.
50% of the council leaderships are persons with disabilities. Steps to include the remaining 3 states are underway.
Related to adopting our legislation, our council has for more than a year -- with participation of different and relevant agencies -- worked on adapting our legislation with the Convention.
Mr. President, the national council is based on a deep understanding of the necessity of integrating persons with disabilities in the programs of all ministries. We do not intend to establish a parallel system for persons with disabilities. But rather, the council has reached out to the different ministries so that each would include and integrate facilities and policies for the disabled, within their generic policies and strategies.
This has resulted in decrees from different ministries, including education, health, youth and sports, human resource development and labor, social security, etc., to help formulate strategies to fulfill this purpose.
Further communication between other ministries is forming strategies for accommodation. Efforts are underway in Sudan to protect those with disabilities, restricted not only to the council and specialized ministry units, but also their official organizations that are also exerting efforts and performing the role of fulfilling these rights. This includes the National Council for Prosthetics and the Commission for Disarmament and Displacement, and for the arms giving of our citizens.
In addition to cooperating with organizations such as the U.N. agencies, Mr. President, we anticipate and look forward to the High-level meeting next September. Sudan finds it necessary to include clear goals in the Post-2015 Development Agenda, which integrate the rights of persons with disabilities to avoid what has happened before, of overlooking persons with disabilities for the Millennium Development Goals. Thank you very much, Mr. President.
Macharia Kamau: I thank the distinguished representative from Sudan. Sierra Leone, you have the floor.
Sierra Leone: Thank you. It is a great delight and honor for me to address this August congregation on the status of persons with disabilities. As a person with a disability myself, I wish to happily and confidently state, at the outset, that Sierra Leone, as a member state in conformity with the goals of this Convention, has made tremendous progress in observing and upholding the rights of persons with disabilities to equal human dignity and social opportunities.
A week ago today, on July 12th, the re-elected popular government launched its strategic development policy framework for 2013-2017, the Agenda for Prosperity AFP. In the third and sixth pillars of that national development roadmap, PRSB 3, the government has enhanced the general welfare and dignity of vulnerable population groups including persons with disabilities to the comfort of people like myself.
As I speak here today, the majority of disabled Sierra Leoneans now have hope for a better life with dignity in society. I believe this renewed promise will motivate us to resolve with greater determination to harness these potentials to making meaningful contributions to our communities and to national development.
Efforts to address disability issues in Sierra Leone began in the 1950s, but, your Excellency, I will have to skip this information because I don't want to run over my time too much. The rest of this statement will be seen on the Internet.
After the country's 11-year civil war that ended in 2002, the population of persons with disabilities increased significantly due to amputation of limbs and other body parts by the warring factions. This started the establishment of new organizations such as the Amputees Associations and others which played advocacy roles for their respective disability population groups.
Activists for disability issues, both disabled and non-disabled, started taking very bold steps towards addressing disability-related issues. Consequently, it became evident that urgent action was needed to address the plight of persons with disabilities.
Following the adoption of the United Nations Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities CRPD by the United Nations General Assembly in August 2006, the Sierra Leone Parliament ratified the Convention on July 28, 2009. Eventually, the Disability Bill was enacted in March 2011 and sealed by presidential ascent.
A key provision of that act was the establishment of the National Commission for Persons with disabilities NCPD of which I am chairman and chief commissioner. The mandate prohibits discrimination of persons with disabilities and provides for other related matters.
Macharia Kamau: Please wind up.
Sierra Leone: Sorry. Mr. Chairman, it is evident from the foregoing account that Sierra Leone has, since the 1950s, made significant progress in the area of dealing with disability issues. The government has continued to demonstrate strong commitment to protecting and promoting the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities.
This is a huge encouragement and motivation to affected population groups. So much so that our new hope and promise has brought about a new self-esteem and sense of belonging with dignity. This, in turn, has cultivated in us a firm determination to gainfully exploit the opportunities to pursue our full potentials in order to make meaningful contributions to our communities and to national development as equal citizens. I thank you.
Macharia Kamau: I thank the Commissioner of Sierra Leone for his statement. I will even allow applause in your case. [Laughter.]
I think we've reached the last of the State Parties. Could I please ask the panelists who will speak to come up to the front desk.
I want to remind all of us that this is indeed a Convention of State Parties. Sometimes people feel we might have to rush the state parties. As this is a Convention of state parties, I feel they have first call on the time. Despite the fact that we have overrun by about 40-45 minutes, I have allowed state parties to speak because this is a convention of state parties. I want to seek your indulgence and your patience because I have accommodated all of the state parties who have requested to speak.
The panelists are coming up. I will give the floor to Disabled Peoples International. You have the floor.
Disabled Peoples International: Thank you. I represent the Disabled Peoples International. We are a global organization. We are a cross-disability organization. We have representation in Asia-Pacific, Latin America and Europe. Recently we are in the countries of CIS.
On behalf of DPI, I extend our best support to the bureau. Once again, I would like to congratulate Mr. President, the Ambassador of Kenya on having taken over the chair of the bureau. And to the UN organizations, in particular UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) that over the next few years, as we begin our journey towards 2015, whatever I and my colleagues can do to support, we are there.
We want you to ensure, on behalf of all of us, that in the post-2015 development agenda disability is not missed out once again as it was in the case of the MDGs. Our appeal is that it should not be just a mention but a significant part of the goals and the objectives.
It's only by doing that that we will be able to ensure that actual change happens and that it's miserable and that there is accountably. I thank you once again for giving this space for the civil society in this Convention and our heartiest congratulations and best support.
Macharia Kamau: Please hold the applause. I thank the distinguished representative from the DPI for their statement.
We now will move on to the panel discussion. As you can see, I have a full roster of panelists here. Time, unfortunately, is not on our side. I know I have professionals. I am sure they understand, clearly, what five minutes means. Therefore, my expectation is that they will exercise great respect to the Convention of State Parties and adhere to time.
Everyone else is a guest. I suspect they will exercise great self-control. I will start according to my list by recognizing, from UNICEF, Ms. Rosangela Berman Bieler. Chief of Disability Section Program Division. I will ask Rosangela Berman Bieler to speak. You have your five minutes.
Rosangela Berman Bieler: Thank you very much, Chair. Thank you for the opportunity to address the Conference of States Parties. UNICEF is honored to be given the opportunity to share with you its efforts to implement the CRPD and make the provisions of the Convention a reality.
Children with disabilities are one of the most excluded groups in society facing daily discrimination in the forms of negative attitudes, lack of legislation. They are barred from realizing their rights to education. There are at least 93 million children with disabilities in the world.
They are often likely to be amongst the poorest members of the population. They are less likely to attend school, access medical services or have their voices heard. They are at a high risk of physical abuse.
Progress on disability-inclusive is still uneven in the world. The international community has recognized a link between disability and development as well as the social and economic impacts of exclusion. There is an urgent need to transform development processes to include all members of society.
Protecting the rights of children with disabilities is not a new theme of UNICEF. This has been an integral part of our programming.
With the passing of the CRPD our disability world has gained momentum. UNICEF is gratified to have played a key role in ensuring children are included in the CRPD. There is an intensified focus on equity to address the root causes of inequality so all children can realize their rights.
The equity-based approach is a foundation of our disability agenda. The main goal of which is to mainstream disability across all of our policies and programs and to development leadership on the rights of the child, building capacity among partners and staff.
How does this translate into concrete action? At the country level it does not only mean numbers of UNICEF supported programs increase, but that we shift from a project-based to a more systematic approach that includes advocacy and legislative reform.
In 2012, 85 UNICEF country offices from around the world reported work on children with disabilities addressing a wide range of areas covered by CRPD.
Interventions can take many forms. In Vietnam UNICEF supported the draft law on persons with disabilities and took analysis of persons with disabilities. As a result of efforts in Turkey, children are participating in consultations for the development of national programs.
Many organizations have been set up to work on discrimination towards children with disabilities. Billboards show them as athletes, students, musicians, etc.
We have to change social norms to make sure children with disabilities can be included in society.
The State of the World's Children Report focused on children with disabilities. This is being distributed here today. This stresses the need for changing social norms to combat stigma and promote positive attitudes towards children with disabilities. Children with disabilities have the same rights as others. Their voices must be heard. Their family needs much be addressed.
The report highlights our efforts in low-income countries where many are promoting the inclusion of children with disabilities. Social protection initiatives such as many happening in many countries are still too few. We need to increase them. This is an important agenda for the post-2015 process.
UNICEF is gratified by the progress of recent years. I have many examples but I don't think we have the time to talk about them. UNICEF continues to champion efforts to mainstream the global child's rights agenda. The past two years have been fruitful for UNICEF as a leader of organizations and other entities eager to work to pursue disability rights.
There is a global partnership on children with disabilities made of a network of organizations with a theme to advocate for the rights of children with disabilities.
UNICEF also chairs the committee on the rights of persons with disabilities in the UNDP, but they will talk about this later.
We are grateful for their support of their work, and to the government of Australia where we have many different programs, and in different countries we partner with as well.
UNICEF remains committed to this topic. We remain committed to the empowerment of the rights of children with disabilities. We remain committed to forging new models of cooperation. We value our partnerships with government, the civil societies, and disabled peoples organizations. We look forward to maintaining these sustainable relationships.
Macharia Kamau: Thank you. I give the floor to Ms. Aleksandra Posarac, team leader disability and development, World Bank. You have the floor.
Aleksandra Posarac: Thank you very much. It is a real pleasure and honor to have the opportunity to address this forum.
The International community has a critical opportunity to ensure the inclusion of disability in the emerging global sustainable development agenda. For the World Bank this means commitment to eradicating extreme poverty, and decreasing the number of people living in extreme poverty to less than 3% of the world population, and ensuring continuous prosperity for the bottom 40% of the population.
For this process to be truly inclusive is to remove barriers limiting function and participation of persons with disabilities. I represent the World Bank here, and it will take much longer than 5 minutes to tell you about projects, studies, policy dialogue, that includes persons with disabilities. We have these in more than 100 countries. So instead, I will remind you of the recommendations and conclusions of the World Report on Disability, which the World Health Organization and the World Bank prepared and launched two years ago here in New York.
Here are the recommendations, which we consider extremely important on the road to ensuring the full respect of the rights of persons with disabilities and their right to be included on equal basis with everybody else, in all aspects of life.
The first recommendation: enabling access to all mainstream systems and services, so people with disabilities can benefit from those services and policies and programs on an equal basis with everybody else. That means there should be no discrimination based on disability. It may sound difficult, but if you think about individual programs such as education for example, it means that all children -- no matter if they're disabled or not -- should have equal access to good quality education. As they grow, it means they will be able to gain employment and be fully participating members of society.
Number two, investing in programs for persons with disabilities, so they can benefit from mainstream services as everybody else.
Number 3, strategies and plans of action. Many countries have them. Some do not. Involve people with disabilities, and improve human resources capacity. Our report found that in many sectors, it's actually the officers and service providers who have prejudice and negative attitudes towards persons with disabilities. This should be dealt with.
Next, providing adequate funding and improving services for people with disabilities. In national plans of action, the Convention talks about progressive realization. There should be realistic goals to be achieved. And for these, there should be adequate funding, or they won't be achieved.
Next, increasing awareness, improving the availability of data on this issue. This is crucial for evidence-based policies on disability.
And strengthening and supporting research on disability.
We believe that, if progress is made with implementing these recommendations, that once the post-2015 development period ends, we will be able to report significant progress in implementing the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Thank you.
Macharia Kamau: Thank you. I thank Ms. Posarac. Now I recognize Ms. Margareta Walhstrom, Special representative of Secretary General.
Margareta Walhstrom: Thank you for the opportunity to update you on the framework for action and what it says and does on persons living with disability.
Our job is to motivate all actors to reduce the disaster risk in the world. That, of course, includes a very high number of disabled people faced with disasters, even more exposed to marginalization than otherwise in life.
In 2005, member states endorsed the over framework for action. It mentions people with disabilities in socio economic sectors. But two years ago we started evaluating progress. It was very clear, and I quote the report on consultations with countries around the world, that "disability was recognized as an issue that has received far too little attention ... and missing the opportunity to draw on their unique capacities including the physically disabled, etc."
This has been identified as a priority in the continued work with the Framework for Action 2, as we call it, which is the continuation instrument following in 2015. For the necessary participation in preparing for disaster risk.
I think it's understood that the mortality of people living with disability in disasters is much higher than other population groups. The delegate from Japan mentioned that this is very important for Japan's policies, in terms of persons with disabilities in the coming years. The tragic experience from the tsunami in the Japan in 2011 is only one opportunity; it's clear that even the best preparedness and efforts to evacuate populations in danger does not fully address the broad variety and diversity of disabilities we have in societies.
Ladies and gentlemen, the only way to address this is to ensure that people with disabilities are involved in the design and planning of the systems designed to protect the safety of populations. This is the starting point for the work in the last few years, to focus on this particular part of the Framework for Action.
We are now in the process of working with national and global consultations for the post-2015 Disaster Risk Management Framework. We have seen a mobilization of groups of persons living with disability, starting in Asia two years ago, already making a strong progress on policy recommendations in the regional conference.
Six weeks ago in Geneva, we had our Fourth Global Platform, focusing precisely on the post-2015 framework.
The persons living with disabilities including children came with very strong recommendations. The foundation was inclusiveness and participation in planning and design and execution of programs, and also empowering communities so they have a fully fledged overview of disability, and can support their community members.
Some recommendations I'd like to share two with you, from the discussions on the global platform on disaster risk reduction and disability. First, ensure the full and effective participation of persons with disabilities, their families and representative organizations, at all levels with policy and practice, at all stages of mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery. In these situations it offers a huge opportunity to ensure that the situation of persons with disabilities is improved as compared to the previous situation. Thus, it ensures that the utmost aspirations of the work on disaster reduction makes this part of the Post-2015 Development Agenda, and that disasters are seen as a development challenge, not as events we tackle single-handedly when they come.
A unique feature combining the Convention and the Reduction work is the recognizant of situations with risk. We work with countries to look at understanding the full scope of risk, and making efforts to reduce risks in a variety of situations, for persons with disabilities.
Ladies and gentlemen, let me ensure that you are all aware that we are planning for a world conference of disaster risk reduction in the coming years, with Japan as host. We hope the outcome is strong inclusion of disability in all its diversity, to ensure safety and protection mechanisms entailed in the framework, to ensure that all countries are ready and able to implement it, and ensuring that people living with disability are fully covered. Thank you.
Macharia Kamau: Thank you. We'll move on to Mr. Charles Radcliffe, of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human rights. He's the chief of global issues.
Charles Radcliffe: Thank you. You have been very ambitious in asking a group of U.N. officials to stick to five minutes, but I'll try. [Laughing.]
In 2007, the Secretary General designated the office of the high commission for human rights, and DESA, to share responsibilities to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
That decision recognized the interlinkage between human rights and development, and they are mutually reinforcing. It's a pleasure to be here with our friends from DESA today and our other colleagues to discuss recent developments for the rights of persons with disabilities.
As you know, preparations continue ahead of the high-level meeting convened by the General Assembly on September 23rd. In this context, OHCHR has underscored the imperative of using the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities As a framework for action, and as a yardstick against which all commitments should be measured.
The Convention is the highest nationally agreed standard we have, and it's the only one that is legally binding to be upheld at all times. Its principles -- equality, non-discrimination, inclusion, participation -- are also at the score of a sustainable development agenda.
Accountability is key. We must make sure the legitimate demands of persons with disabilities -- some of which we've heard this morning -- are reflected in the global development goals.
The committee on the rights of persons with disabilities echoed this message in a statement adopted in June of 2013, calling upon states parties to link the post-2015 development goals to the obligations of the Convention.
A component, as Office of High Commissioner, is supporting the committee. I'm delighted to have the chair of the committee, Maria Soledad Cisternas Reyes, with us. I'm sure she'll brief us on the committee's work.
As you know, our office supports the ratification and implementation of the human rights treaties, including the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
More than 20 OHCHR parties are working with organizations representing persons with disabilities and other Civil society groups, to work with the activities under the Convention. These activities include law and policy reforms, supporting state and Civil society reporting to the committee, and providing training on the application of the Convention and its optional protocol.
Let me mention one thing relating to activities. Our office finalized new training materials on the Convention and protocol. It's established a pool of officers capable of delivering training on using these materials. It's available in Eastern, Western, and Southern America, Asia, Europe, in Geneva, and here in New York.
Talking about global or regional efforts, we can talk about other parts of the United Nations system. We co-partner with DESA and inter-agency support, UNDP, UNICEF, and WHO in context of promoting the rights of persons with disabilities.
One more setting is of course the United Nations Human Rights Council. In March of 2013, the high commissioner for Human rights presented a thematic study on the rights of persons with disabilities. This one focused on work and employment. The council discussed the topic, and subsequently adopted measure 22/3, urging people to move away from sheltering schemes, and promoting inclusive employment in the labor market. Now we are focusing on education and welcome further inputs on that.
We are working with others to make the United Nations more accessible too. That's an area where much has been done, but more can be done too, here and in Geneva.
Finally, excellencies, the Convention would never have come into existence without the call of persons with disabilities demanding their right to exercise their rights on an equal footing. We must recognize the heart of the Convention and actively consult with persons with disabilities and their representative organizations at every step. We look forward to continuing this work and to our conversations. Thank you.
Macharia Kamau: Thank you. I thank Mr. Charles Radcliffe of the OHCHR. Now I welcome Ms. Daniela Bas, the director for social policy and development, to speak. You have the floor.
Daniela Bas: Good day. Mr. President, excellencies, ladies and gentlemen. I'm pleased to take part in the Conference of States Parties, and to provide some examples of DESA's continuing work and efforts.
As the United Nations global focal point on disability, we are privileged to serve as the Secretariat on this conference, as well as to the high-level meeting on disability and development on September 23rd.
As Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) has outlined, our speech will be on PaperSmart. I wish to share a few things.
In line with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities the recent General Assembly resolution, UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) and the department for conference management have been working closely with other offices to enable persons with disabilities to participate in the work of the United Nations.
The Accessibility Center is being developed by the United Nations interdepartmental task force on accessibility with a generous initial support of the government of the Republic of Korea. The interdepartmental task force on accessibility aims to ensure that in the whole United Nations System premises be accessible and usable.
Availability of budgetary resources needs to be ensured. This Accessibility Center will feature dedicated computer stations with assistive devices, wheelchair charging and personnel to assist with devices. The completion of the center is set to be August 15th of this year to be available for the high-level meeting. The remaining cost is not available at this time since they still require $30,604.
I would like to announce that immediately following this Sixth Session, starting at 2PM in this room Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) will hold its Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) Forum. The Forum will bring together a wide range of stakeholders to explore a way forward towards the development agenda inclusive of all, including persons with disabilities.
It will explore specific topics such as accessibility. Kenya, Brazil, Thailand and the World Bank will be involved.
Disabled People International (DPI), Rehabilitation International and the global Partnership are also involved. I hope we will have new informal networks of development practitioners and disability in development issues. We look forward to working with you in the year ahead to advance the goal of the Convention to be translated into a disability-inclusive development agenda. Thank you.
Macharia Kamau: I thank the Director of the Division for Social Policy and Development for her statement. I now welcome Kazi Afzalur Rahman from the World Tourism Organization.
Kazi Afzalur Rahman: Thank you. The reality is despite the potentials in the tourism market for inclusion of persons with disabilities the tourism sector is yet to integrate universal accessibility. There is a lack of knowledge of the tourism professional on how to cater to customers with disabilities. The situation can only be improved by consistent and well-coordinated policies, strategies, research, innovation and business development in close collaboration with DPOs.
The policy framework needs to include accountability while reinforcing legislation and systems of standards and norms which tend to be different from country to country. Although many challenges still remain, there have been some remarkable developments in the last few years.
A main objective will be published in the second semester of 2013 as a result of joint work with different DPOs partners. This will highlight good practices of accessible tourism. Good practices show that the most accessible places usually have social inclusion policies in place.
There is increased activity in emerging destinations.
A few examples of good practices are the focus on different types of services, a national park, a travel agency, a hotel chain and a public park which require different actions for making their services more accessible.
Example #1. The waterfalls in Argentina. This is part of a national park between Argentina and Brazil. Since the mid-1990s the park has been managed by a private company. The accessibility plan follows three main principles. Physical integration. Functional integration. Ensure that any person has access to any service. And social integration; making use of the services and attractions through cooperation of all stakeholders.
Example #2. Historical cities.
The European Foundation Center is focused on historical cities in several countries. The following actions have been implemented. Accessible tourist routes to visit museums, parks, restaurants and other tourist attractions. There are training courses for staff. And there are innovative technology tools. The greatest challenge was integrating monuments.
Example 3. Hotels. There is a hotel chain in Central European countries recognized in its ambitious program for accessibility. Their approach centers on each disability being different. Creation and introduction of accessibility standards consisting of 110 points. Training of the hotel staff in customer service of those with disabilities. All information related to accessibility is made available on the Web site, including a leaflet for customers with disabilities.
The hotels have shown profitable results in terms of profits made.
Example 4. A travel agency operating for more than 35 years as part of the Spanish Once Business Corporation. This travel agency displays previously verified information on accommodations and transportation.
Example 5. A municipal park in Germany. The majority of the park is accessible to visitors with disabilities.
Macharia Kamau: Thank you for your statement. We will now listen to Mr. Selim Jahan with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). You have the floor.
Selim Jahan: Thank you. I am pleased to be representing United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) at the Sixth Conference to the CRPD. I am grateful to speak about the work carried out by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the UN Partnership on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Let me start with reflects on the main focus of the last two days. The realization of adequate standards of living for persons with disabilities. This issue is central to UNDP's mission of the reduction of inequality and exclusion. United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is strongly committed to this objective and pursues it through advocacy.
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has been conducting work on the issue of disability both on the programmatic and human resources fronts. On the programmatic front, initiatives in several countries have ensured that poverty programs are implemented and support has been provided.
Innovative mechanisms are being explored to support inclusion.
On the human resources side, work is being undertaken at employment opportunities, accessibility to premises, adequate office space and training. I would like to reiterate that the promotion of adequate living standards is a complex effort required coordinated action across sectors and agencies. That is why UNPRPD established a joint initiative.
Last September, we announced the first United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) funding round. I am pleased to share with you that today 11 of the projects are being implemented and starting to make a difference for persons with disabilities. Allow me to give you three examples.
In Moldavia, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), UNICEF and WHO are working closely with the national governmental bodies on the rights of persons with disabilities to promote full inclusion in society. As a result, significant advances have established justice for oversight.
Policy dialogue has advanced on issues such as legal capacity reform.
There is MDG solution framework to promote the rights of persons with disabilities. The Costa Rican national business association has established a network working to create job opportunities for persons with disabilities and will take steps to make processes more inclusive.
In Indonesia, International Labour Organization (ILO) and WHO are implementing a project aimed at strengthening the capacity of national institutions in charge of the implementation of CRPD. This initiative supported the exchange of knowledge of the inclusion of persons with disabilities.
We are well aware that progress must be complemented and reinforced by framework at the global level. We start to discuss a long vision for international cooperation. It is important to take necessary steps to make sure the rights of persons with disabilities are adequately reflected in the post-2015 development framework. In this context, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) and UNICEF are working with International Disability Alliance (IDA) and the IDDC to develop a publication on voices of persons with disabilities on September 24, 2013 with an event to reach the high-level meeting.
These results would not have been achieved without the team spirit demonstrated by all of the participating organizations. This would not have been possible without the civil society partners. Or the support of the governments that contributed from Australia, Cyprus, Mexico and other countries. We are appreciative of the leadership demonstrated by these countries and hope others will join them.
I would like to acknowledge the guidance from the Special Report on Disability, the Current chair of the CRPD. Much remains to be done. As pointed out in the last two days, there have been a number of encouraging breakthroughs. We will continue to operate to the best of our capacity to sustain and expand these breakthroughs to contribute to a society for all in the 21st century. I thank you.
Macharia Kamau: Thank you. We have reached the end of the panelists' presentations. I will now allow a 10-15 minute interactive session. This is the only time we have for questions and answers. I recognize Honduras.
Honduras: Thank you, President. I wish to congratulate you on holding this event.
Macharia Kamau: Please keep your plaques up.
Honduras: Thanks to the international cooperation of countries of the world for persons with disabilities, civil society and other organizations. It was possible to make tremendous progress. This is a very complement to the work of persons with disabilities and their families. I have a question for Rosangela Berman Bieler.
How is UNICEF diagnosing public services? Children in these centers have difficulty with their teachers and with access. How can we counter this concern with regard to children with disabilities? I wish to thank the World Bank for your support for our country. I want to thank the Tourism Organization. It would be great for inclusive tourism to be implemented in our countries together with the tourism institutions in our country. That would be very important to have access that we all want.
The preparation in hotels would be very important. Many are not aware of this law. It would be a great opportunity. Thank you.
Macharia Kamau: Thank you. Now I recognize Senegal.
Senegal: Thank you very much, Mr. President. I have a question for the UNICEF representative. First, I would like to congratulate all panelists for their important messages. I'd like to tell the States Parties that Senegal issued a law in July 2010, dealing with the advancement and protection of persons with disabilities. In Article 3 it reads that there is a need to work out, for persons with inabilities, a roadmap of equal opportunity. To do that, we need to have a census for persons with disabilities, to have certificates for them. Then, to work out that roadmap for equality of opportunity, we have followed the timetable. We know that on the 16th, UNICEF organized at its headquarters a conference on the extent of disability.
Senegal therefore requests technical cooperation from UNICEF to support in this process of measuring disability, which will assist us to work out that roadmap of equality of opportunity. Thank you.
Macharia Kamau: Thank you. Now I recognize the Republic of Korea. You have the floor ma'am.
Korea: I would like to make a suggestion. As part of this inclusion development cooperation across the Asia and Pacific region, Korea held a High-level meeting in the government last year, thinking about adopting a disability-inclusive development cooperation called Asian Strategy. At that meeting, representatives of UNESCO spoke of inter-regional partnerships, to assure systems of interlinked systems of strategy.
Mr. President, to improve the rights of persons with disabilities, the task is to ratify the CRPD. The United Nations ESCAP strategies, in that regard, we believe in our commitment to the CRPD, and making rights possible for more persons with disabilities in the Asia Pacific Region. I believe the systems for such actions and strategies are necessary. Thank you.
Macharia Kamau: I thank the representative from Korea. Now Panama, you have the floor.
Panama: Mr. President, at the outset, may I thank you for the format of this discussion. Delegates, friends of civil society, in these three days we have heard very good intentions and about great implemented practices. But in our homes, the decisions are made by parents and families and educators. In a boat, a captain makes decisions. In the world, politicians do.
And so, we need to empower politicians in dealing with disability. This is for awareness-raising. And there is a magic word for policy makers. They dream about this day and night. And that is, to have a voice with the support of civil society. We have to go to the political parties, and the youths of political parties, and make them see that with policies in favor of persons with disabilities, there can be a voice of the population. That is, 15-20% of the population, this voice can ensure that persons with disabilities can be included. That is, to empower persons with disabilities, and give them a voice and vote before decision makers. Thank you.
Macharia Kamau: I thank the delegate of Panama. Now I recognize Sudan.
Sudan: Thank you. It is indeed important. And we all seek to include the disabled in all fields. U.N. agencies are key players in this respect. It is also important that there be additional support for the disabled. However, the more important thing is to include the disabled in all the projects and activities of the United Nations at any agency implementing schools or other projects. I would like to address a question to the representative of the United Nations agencies. To what extent do we include the disabled in all other activities in general? Not necessarily those directed to the disabled, that is.
We have to, when we talk about inclusion, the United Nations must be the model for member states to follow. Thank you.
Macharia Kamau: Thank you. I thank the delegate from Sudan. Now we recognize Kenya. You have the floor.
Kenya: Thank you Mr. President. I want to begin by thanking all the panelists for their insightful presentations. I heard about the engagements in eastern Europe and Asia. But I did not hear about UNDEP's engagement in Africa, where programs are needed. Could the presenter elaborate on those programs? Thank you.
Macharia Kamau: Thank you. Now I recognize Egypt. You have the floor.
Egypt: Thank you, Mr. chairman. I would like to direct my question to the United Nations group and the World Bank and others. As we talk about the inclusion of the disabled, we in Egypt face a big problem: to provide audio-visual equipment of quality to the disabled.
You know that these equipments are necessary for them to find jobs. We find these equipments through the United Nations and World Bank and other agencies for the disabled people in Egypt, to provide them with different means. We thank you for the floor.
Macharia Kamau: I thank the delegate of Egypt. I give the final question to Morocco. You have the floor.
Morocco: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. As you are aware, the efforts of member states regarding the rights of the disabled require many technical and financial capabilities, in order to increase the capacities of these countries for programs to sustain those people's rights. The CRPD talks about strengthening international cooperation in this respect. How can we enhance the activities of the international cooperation mechanism, as well as the international organizations, to all members? Especially to members that are in need of this assistance, be it technical or financial? Sir, we thank you for the floor.
Macharia Kamau: I thank the delegate from Morocco. I give 30 seconds to the delegate from Colombia. You have 30 seconds please.
Columbia: Thank you. Just to strengthen three points: we must continue on policies for caretakers and caregivers for persons with disabilities. About 90% are women. They are also in a situation of vulnerability. We should also take into account a different focus on policies dealing with disability in many countries. For example, in Columbia, we have ethnic groups, victims of conflict, and victims of domestic and family abuse. The prison population should also be taken into account in these policies. We should also consider the importance of having geo-referenced information with variables that are unified at the national levels, so that all countries can compare this information. Thank you.
Macharia Kamau: I thank the delegate of Columbia. Now I give UNICEF 30 seconds for her response, followed by UNDP.
Rosangela Berman Bieler: Thank you. We received many different questions. One that I would highlight is Data and the importance of collecting data on children with disability. UNICEF is renewing our models on data with the statistics offices of countries. We have new modules now, which we developed with the Washington group, for screening and assessing disability, so we can design programs to issues, and measuring school environments and identify and eliminate barriers in these environments, so children can be involved in education for example. This is an effort together with agencies such as DESA, the WHO, the World Bank, and others. We think in the next two years we will be ready to really leverage these tools so countries can benefit from them. Again, UNICEF is working with governments all over the world at the policy level. It is strengthening systems to include children with disabilities. I encourage every government to request UNICEF technical assistance in this field. Thank you.
Macharia Kamau: Thank you, UNICEF. I now turn to UNDP.
Selim Jahan: Thank you. The examples I provided were neither exhaustive nor comprehensive. They were just to illustrate. Funding has been going on in Togo, Mozambique, and South Africa. In Togo it is inclusion education. In south Africa it is monitoring the CRPD. In Mozambique it is about land mines.
Africa as a region has received the largest amount of funding. The plans are being undertaken to support the establishment of a regional network of persons with disabilities. Thank you.
Macharia Kamau: Thank you. We've reached the end of this session now. I'd like to thank the presenters, every one of you. And thank you for struggling to adhere to time. I'm grateful for your effort. We are out of time, and must move on to the next session. We as State Parties will continue to expect briefings on these matters and will brief you accordingly. Thank you very much.
Now, while we change over, I would like to request the Special Rapporteur on Disability of Commission for Social Development. That doesn't stand right. But Mr. Shuaib Chalklen, please come to the podium. And also please, the Committee on the Rights of Persons with disabilities, Ms. Maria Soledad Cisternas Reyes. Please come up to speak to us for a few minutes now.
These are two very important individuals. I don't have to tell you that. I think most of us who have been working with this for a considerable time appreciate the critical work done by the Rapporteurs and the Commission. I look forward to hearing from them. I guess now, we're hearing from them, it's "this afternoon." Please?
Right. It now gives me great pleasure to invite the chair of the Committee on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities , Ms. Maria Soledad Reyes, to report on the work of the CRPD committee. You have the floor.
Maria Soledad Cisternas Reyes: Okay. Thank you very much, Mr. President. Good afternoon, everyone. On behalf of the committee on the Rights of Persons with disabilities I wish to inform you of the progress made in our work. We should bear in mind that our committee is a treaty body, created under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities , under Article 34 and forward as a treaty body. Its main function is to consider the reports of States Parties as well as under the optional protocol to examine individual communications.
So, a first point of information has to do with the review of States Parties reports. This started in 2011. To date, we have adopted 7 concluding observations of States Parties in the reports and recommendations. We were able to address complex issues like the Seeing People Equally Before the law, legal capacity, the prohibition of torture, the prohibition of exploitation, violence, abuse, access to information, and the freedom and expression of opinions, as well as their political rights, rights to vote, political parties, etc.
There was broad participation in all issues dealing with persons with disabilities including the right to be elected. We have jurisprudence relating to inclusive education. And to have reasonable accommodations for inclusive education. We have recommendations for the workplace, for adequate social life, rights to health, rehabilitation, data collection, etc. And there are mechanisms for follow-up by States Parties by participation with civil society. Everything has to do with the implementation, design, and evaluation of the implementation of Convention, and with this regard we have completed the review of 7 States Parties and have set out lists of issues.
We have substantive jurisprudence on this. We should also say, regarding the optional protocol, we have examined individual compliance. We have resolved some of these. Others are still being reviewed regarding admissibility to continue in the procedure. We have also started some procedures on investigations for serious violations of human rights. And we have early warning and urgent action procedures underway. Our committee can also develop interpretive norms through general comments regarding the Convention.
We are finalizing drafts of general comments on legal capacity, accessibility and, recently, we have created a working group for a general comment on women and girls with disabilities.
I should also mention that we have already implemented follow-up procedures for the concluding observations of State Party reports. We also have reviews of cases of human rights violations.
The committee has participated in strengthening community bodies.
Our committee has a statement now taking up and supporting the recommendations of the High Commissioner of the United Nations on human rights as regards to strengthening the Treaty Body System. The committee has incorporated experts within rules of procedures. We believe this independence is the strength of our work.
I should also mention the contribution of the committee as it regards to the high-level meeting on development and disability planned for September of this year. I met with the co-facilitators of that process. The committee has developed a public statement on the Web site which shows the points of view that the committee believes must be taken into account.
In the context of the high-level meeting, it is important that the Convention be considered as the main priority and most important reference document in dealing with the rights of persons with disabilities in terms of human rights and social rights. This is a framework for action that must guide this high-level meeting. There has been an emphasis on a direct relation that should exist between human rights of persons with disabilities and social development that is sustainable and inclusive.
We also looked at all aspects having to do with human rights, including civil and political rights to ensure that there is sustainable and inclusive development. Everything must be taken into account. All these sectors of persons with disabilities must be involved. It is very important to recognize them not only by type of disability but also looking at a gender perspective for women and girls, older persons, indigenous groups, rural groups, etc. Any person who is facing natural disaster and conflict and other such situations, they need intensive support.
The committee believes States Parties must fulfill legal obligations for the implementation of the Convention. This has to do with the social development of this group. Accountability is important.
I also wish to stress that for the committee, the issue of accessibility has been key. We recognize the analysis conducted in 2012 by a consortium of private entities which made recommendations relating to accessibility within the committee. This will serve as a basis for broadened accessibility within the United Nations System.
The committee has worked with the Task Group of the Human Rights Council that has dealt with accessibility within the United Nations System.
Another item I wish to highlight is to thank the support from states in regards to expanding our sessions. This was key for us to conduct our work not only during the sessions but throughout the year. We are constantly working towards the goals of the Convention. We do wish to thank States Parties that have supported this initiative. We ask that you continue to support this at the General Assembly to continue to provide support to the committee on the Convention of Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
With regard to the support of States Parties I wish to thank you from the 48 reports from states that have been provided in a timely manner. I also wish to invite States Parties that have not yet submitted reports to please do so and make use of the technical assistance and capacity building to submit those reports as soon as possible.
I am also grateful for the invaluable contribution from civil society of organizations of persons with disabilities and our processes in reviewing the reports of States Parties through specific hearings. We also wish to thank national human rights institutions that have provided invaluable contributions to our work, as well.
I also wish to note that the committee understands that there is work to do. This has been work but we have also had a direct link with States Parties. We have looked at each State Party on the basis of this experience. We can say that a great contribution has been made in other areas and other processes. The committee has been aware of the different procedures for developing other international standards to help place the Convention on persons with disabilities at the right level.
That will give us coherence throughout the entire international system for the promotion and protection of human rights. Members of the committee have attended various seminars in various regions throughout the world promoting the ratification of the Convention in countries that have not yet ratified it and provided technical assistance for improved ratification of the Convention.
I wish to note that the committee on the rights of persons with disabilities offers its expertise and cooperation to the Conference of States Parties in various ways. We provide our experience and our specialization of our colleagues making up the committee. I should also mention that we are particularly grateful to the various experts of the committee who are here today.
We have the Vice Chair and the various experts who are here today who represent the committee here. We know that the other members are following via the Internet. I extend greetings to them and thank you for the work they conduct year-long offering their skills and expertise. I emphasize our offer to work with the Conference of States Parties in an interactive way throughout the year.
I also extend our thanks to the High Commissioner for Human rights for the invaluable contribution made to help us to be the most efficient as possible in our work.
With the majority of experts which make up the committee, the majority of us are persons with disabilities. This has been an asset. In no case has this delayed our work in any way or slowed down our work compared to other committees. Thank you very much. [Applause.]
Macharia Kamau: Maria, you should know that I allowed you to speak for a little longer than normal because I was very curious as to how you were doing what you were doing. I am still trying to figure out what your disability is. You have given us a comprehensive, articulate, point-by-point report on the work of your committee without any notes. [Applause.]
I am very admiring of your skill. I aspire to achieve it very soon. [Laughter.] Thank you, Maria. That was very admirable. I think you got all of your points in.
Of course, the fear was that I would then not give Mr. Shauaib Chalklen his opportunity to speak. He has his time. This is the United Nations special Rapporteur.
Shauaib Chalklen: I promise to be brief. We are close to our closing time. Thank you for the kind invitation to speak at the Conference of States Parties. I wish to highlight some of the work I have been doing in the last six months since my last statement for social development.
I visited Moldavia and Croatia and observed their work. The challenges are many but with the support of the United Nations country teams and, with Moldova, they are making progress.
Today we have a delegation from Somalia in the audience. They are the first civil society organization representing Somali disabled persons.
I have observed a lack of a strong voice from Africa. I have been involved in the process of developing the African Disability Forum. The rationale is to strengthen the voice of African persons with disabilities, especially when it comes to globally meetings such as this one.
We are making progress with the establishment of the African Disability Forum and hope to have a Forum in the next few months. More than half of the African countries have ratified the CRPD.
Unfortunately, we have challenges with the implementation of many treaties, including the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. We are hoping that with the development of a stronger voice through this forum, all parties concerned will contribute to all documents in Africa.
We also have the good fortune to have a working relationship with an African network of users and survivors that represents Africans with psychosocial disabilities.
We are aware of the need for support of those with psychosocial disabilities.
I am convinced that with the support and greater involvement of the United Nations and the African Union, the forum will make a substantial contribution.
I intend to visit El Salvador, Mexico and Ecuador. I will report on my activities in February 2014. Thank you for your attention.
Macharia Kamau: I thank Mr. Shauaib Chalklen for his statement. I would also like to welcome back Somalia colleagues. That country has suffered a very long civil war. There are many persons with disabilities now living in Somalia. It is pleasing for us to see that they are now active once again in this Conference of States Parties.
It also gives me great pleasure to point out that Singapore has now joined the State Parties to the CRPD. We now have 133 State Parties to the CRPD. [Applause.]
Welcome on board, Singapore.
At this point, I would like to thank, once again, Maria Soledad Cisternas Reyes and Shauaib Chalklen for their engagement and comprehensive reports. We wish you both great success. Thank you for your participation.
I will ask the Secretariat to make a couple of announcements before I read my final statement.
Akiko Ito: Thank you. I have two announcements. If delegations require an entry pass for tomorrow, July 20th, contact the Secretariat in this room, Mr. Fred Dalton who just stood up.
In consultation with the Department of General Assembly has identified the following date for the Seventh Session for Conference of States Parties September 10-12, 2014.
Various factors are being reviewed for the availability of venues and services as well as the calendar of events for the United Nations for 2014. The final decision of the date will be made in due course. Thank you.
Macharia Kamau: Thank you very much, from the Secretariat. Ladies and gentlemen, excellencies, we are now at the final phase of this Sixth Session of the Conference. It has been a very intense three days. We have exchanged views, experience, and ideas for empowerment for persons with disabilities, and their full and equal participation in society and development.
Under the theme "Ensuring Adequate Standard of Living ... " Within the framework of the CRPD, there have been deliberations and concrete ideas for improving programs, poverty reduction, community-based rehabilitation, and more. We discussed ideas for the inclusion of the disability perspective in development, being part and parcel of all aspects of development processes, as agents and beneficiaries.
These are the building blocks for the high-level meeting whose theme, as you mostly should know, is "The Way Forward, a Disability-inclusive development Agenda towards 2015 and beyond." As I said in my opening statement, we take very seriously the idea and the need to ensure that issues of persons with disabilities are included in the Post-2015 Development Agenda and in the work of the Open Working Group on sustainable development goals.
As we have pointed out, we are committed to making the objectives of the CRPD and the internationally agreed development goals, and I as co-chair intend to follow through.
This conference, the conference generally, in its six years, has been a global mechanism to promote implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities For advancement of the rights of persons with disabilities in society and development. We have seen this mechanism evolve into about 800 participants each year, with more than 40 side events covering a wide range of global issues concerning the lives of persons with disabilities and their communities.
Each year the speakers list grows longer. Accommodating all speakers within the timeframe of the conference has been challenging, as you have noticed. But there is a recognition of the serious attention paid to the conference. We may need to ask if we need more time for the conference. It may be the case.
Despite the non-disputed importance of this conference, and the efforts to support its growth and elevate its position as a global forum, the conference stands on a precarious financial and institutional foundation. We heard Ms. Reyes seeking that States Parties look to see how they can improve the funding of this process.
In this context, as President, I wish to share the concerns of the bureau: Bangladesh, El Salvador, etc. -- regarding the support of the United Nations for this conference.
Currently, the conference has no regular budget. It is organized only on a resource-available basis. That makes it truly precarious. For example, the dates of the conference -- availability of interpretation, documents, and other services, are contingent on resources within the Secretariat. That's a real concern.
Since there are no specific mandates for documentation, the DESA secretariat negotiated for weeks for resources, for issuance of background notes to the discussions in this conference.
Same for the interpretation for discussions on the second day. We had full interpretation services. But this is not guaranteed. Every time, we have to negotiate for these services. The conference may, therefore, wish to consider regular ways to regulate interpretation, documentation, and accessibility. This will reduce uncertainties and ad hoc arrangements around the conference.
Our colleagues have been doing their maximum to ensure the best possible support. But as member states are aware, without governmental mandates, this situation will continue to threaten stability of the conference in the years to come.
I also wish to bring to attention the real financial difficulties of participation from developing countries. I brought this matter up at the beginning of the conference. Including not just States Parties but civil society participants too. We may also wish to consider means for supporting the participation of developing countries to this conference, recognizing that this is where some of the real needs lie.
You as delegates need to make this point heard in your capitals. If you don't, we or the secretariat will not be able to do so on your behalf. We rely on you to be champions of this conference back home. This is of critical importance.
The conference's best positions to spearhead Mainstreaming of disability perspectives are in all aspects of the United Nations. You saw wide breadth of participants. I'll have you know, that is not all of the U.N. organizations that are dealing with matters of disability. There are others. We have UNESCO, which had asked for the floor, but there were time constraints so I could not give it to them. They too have been doing important work. There are other organizations too who wish to be part of this process. If we could find the time or resources, we could engage them.
This conference is best positioned for the mainstreaming of disability perspectives within the United Nations. Concerns of persons with disabilities must be taken into account, to ensure development strategies and programs reflect the ambitions, aspirations, and goals of all. We must embrace differences and accept disability as part of the human diversity. It is simply a condition of being human. We can achieve the goal of safer, sustainable and equitable future for all, if we strive for it, and if we set it as a challenge we should achieve collectively. This should be the commitment of this conference of States Parties.
I know we've heard a lot in the last three days. We've heard of incredible progress in many of your countries. This is commendable. Because if we don't recognize the progress we've achieved, we will not be able to be encouraged to build on those achievements. Clearly, we have been making headway. But we also recognize that there are major gaps. Real challenges. People with disabilities and those marginalized are facing these challenges, and we must somehow respond.
Another encouraging thing has been the lessons we've heard from you. Delegations have spoken about lessons, experiences, solutions, and examples. We have heard them. We will share this with you in the post-sessional report, which is now under preparation, from this meeting.
We need to make sure these lessons, examples, solutions are shared among all of us, so we can move forward with them, implement them too, so we can make this world a better place for all of us. I want to conclude, therefore, by congratulating every single one of you. This has been an energized, absolutely encouraging conference. Participation, if you look around the room, you'll see, has been fully engaging. You have all remained in the room throughout the process. I have chaired many meetings and conferences, where by the second day, you feel like you're talking to an empty hall! That hasn't been the case here. I congratulate you all in the work you've done. I hope that all we've learned and shared during this conference will be useful in accelerating the realization of the Convention's objections, and mutually reinforce the commitment of the United Nations and all of our countries for a sustainable future. A future that does not discriminate, and that embraces us all as equals. Thank you all very much.
It now gives me sad pleasure to declare this conference officially closed.
Please don't forget. This afternoon there will be a DESA forum. I believe it will be here at 2:00. Thank you.
[End of event.]
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