UN officials urge commitment to integrate disabled persons into society
Secretary-General Kofi Annan and other United Nations officials today marked the International Day of Disabled Persons -
who constitute the world's largest minority group - with a call for a continuing commitment to secure their equal rights
and full participation in society.
He and other senior UN officials urged a successful conclusion to talks on the Comprehensive and Integral International
Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities.
Mr. Annan added: “Equal participation requires not only dismantling environmental, social and legal barriers that
marginalize persons with disabilities. It also means making jobs, education, health, information and other services just
as accessible to them as to everyone else.”
For many years the rights of persons with disabilities were overlooked, he said. More recently, progress has been made
throughout the world in ensuring that people with disabilities can participate in and benefit from development, but much
more needs to be done to ensure their full integration, he added.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour noted that two-thirds of the over 600 million persons in the world
with a disability live in developing countries.
“A truly inclusive society presupposes the elimination of barriers in such areas as education, the provision of health
care, employment, transportation, access to buildings and so on both for reasons of equity and because such prejudice
limits the enormous contribution persons with disabilities can make to the development of their societies,” she said.
The Food and Agricultural Organization of the UN (FAO) said it has launched several bee, chicken and fish projects, as
well as integrated pest management, targeting rural people living with disabilities in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Cambodia,
Ethiopia, Kenya, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka and Thailand.
“By building their knowledge and skills, enabling them to improve their income, creating employment opportunities, and
promoting their participation in rural development and food security strategies, governments and other stakeholders can
enhance their livelihoods,” FAO population policy expert Libor Stloukal said.