Press Releases

UNIS/SGSM/086
27 November 2008

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon:

"We Need to Do Much More to Break the Cycle of Poverty and Disability"

Message on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, 3 December 2008

VIENNA, 3 December (UN Information Service) - This year's International Day of Persons with Disabilities falls just a week before the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The United Nations is commemorating both under the theme, "Dignity and justice for all of us".

We have much to celebrate this year. The entry into force of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in May was a turning point. When the first Conference of the Parties convened in October, participants immediately began considering how the Convention can serve as a tool to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. This progress has been made possible thanks to the active participation and leadership of persons with disabilities, by ensuring that they have access to - and are included in - all aspects of our work.

The United Nations remains committed to this approach. The renovation of our Headquarters complex through the Capital Master Plan will bring our facilities up to the latest standards of accessibility. These advances are long overdue.

The General Assembly has stressed that to achieve the MDGs, we must include persons with disabilities in all processes. With 80 per cent of persons with disabilities - more than 400 million people - living in poor countries, we need to do much more to break the cycle of poverty and disability.

The slogan of the International Disability Alliance is: "Nothing about us without us." A disabled person from Swaziland who has been fighting for the implementation of a disability policy there has said, "We need total integration to do away with the evil of stigmatization".

In that same spirit, I urge governments and all stakeholders to ensure that persons with disabilities and their organizations are an integral part of all development processes. In this way, we can promote integration and pave the way for a better future for all people in society.

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