Disability in the spotlight at the UN

More than 800 representatives and organizations of persons with disabilities converged in New York City on September 23 for a United Nations General Assembly meeting devoted to disability-inclusive development.

United Nations Stamp
United Nations

“We must further strengthen the international normative framework on disability and development,” Secretary General Ban Ki-moon told the assembly, according to a UN news release. “We must act now to remove barriers to access to physical environments, transportation and information and communications. And we must not only lift the physical barriers – but also the barriers in attitudes that fuel stigma and discrimination.”

The summit, the first of its type, brought together voices calling for the inclusion of disability in its emerging post-2015 development agenda. The agenda will be the successor to the Millennium Development Goals agreed on in 2000, which set goals for eight anti-poverty goals.
“Disability is part of the human condition; almost everyone will be temporarily or permanently impaired at some point in life,” Secretary Moon said at the meeting. “Yet far too many people with disabilities live in poverty. Too many suffer from social exclusion. Too many are denied access to education, employment, health care, and social and legal support systems.”

A vote to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which has been ratified by well more than 100 nations worldwide, was narrowly defeated in the U.S. Senate in December 2012. The vote was 61 to 38 in support of the treaty, falling short of the two-third threshold for ratification.