UN Launches Disability Inclusion Strategy to Serve “World’s Largest Minority Group”
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UN Secretary-General António Guterres announced that the UN will implement a disability inclusion strategy, and he pledged to make the UN fully accessible to all, at the annual conference on the Convention of Rights of Persons with Disabilities in New York.

Guterres stressed that disability inclusion is central to the promise of the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development, and expressed his intention for the UN to become ‘an employer of choice’ for persons with disabilities.

The strategy includes an accountability framework for monitoring progress and addressing challenges, and focuses on critical areas including leadership, strategic planning, accessibility, participation, programming and procurement.

11 June 2019: UN Secretary-General António Guterres announced that the UN will implement a disability inclusion strategy, and he pledged to make the UN fully accessible to all. Launching the strategy during the annual conference on the Convention of Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), Guterres stressed that disability inclusion is central to the promise of the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development.

The strategy includes an accountability framework for monitoring progress and addressing challenges, and focuses on critical areas including leadership, strategic planning, accessibility, participation, programming and procurement. The strategy also calls for the UN to recruit more persons with disabilities, and to support them better. Guterres expressed his intention for the UN to become an “employer of choice” for persons with disabilities.

The strategy builds on the findings of a comprehensive review of the UN’s performance on disability inclusion, which Guterres had commissioned in April 2018. Catalina Devandas Aguilar, Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, conducted the review and presented findings and recommendations for discussion in December 2018 to the Secretary-General’s Senior Management Group. The Group then mandated the UN High-Level Committee on Management to further develop a policy, action plan and accountability framework. The draft Disability Inclusion Strategy was discussed and conveyed to the UN Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB) for approval at its May 2019 session.

At a side event during the 12th session of the Conference of States Parties to the CRPD, Asako Okai, Assistant Secretary-General and Director, UN Development Programme (UNDP) Crisis Bureau, said the UN Disability Inclusion Strategy will serve “the world’s largest minority group.” He noted the role played by the International Labor Organization (ILO) and the UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR) in developing the Strategy, and he drew attention to the work of the UN Partnership on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, a partnership of UN entities with a technical secretariat hosted at UNDP.

The UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) released its first Flagship Report on Disability and Development on 3 December 2018, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. The report outlined the connections between disability inclusion and achievement of each of the 17 SDGs, drawing attention to wide inequalities and disadvantages faced by persons with disabilities, for example, in relation to income and food security (SDGs 1 and 2), health and education access (SDGs 3 and 4) and energy access (SDG 7). The report recommended that implementation of the 2030 Agenda should incorporate a disability perspective in all aspects of SDG implementation, monitoring and evaluation.

CRPD COP 12 took place in New York, US, from 11-13 June 2019, on the theme of ‘Ensuring inclusion of persons with disabilities in a change world through the implementation of the CRPD.’ Sub-themes discussed at the conference were: technology, digitalization and information and communication technologies (ICTs) for the empowerment and inclusion of persons with disabilities; social inclusion and the right to the highest attainable standard of health; and inclusion of persons with disabilities in society through participation in cultural life, recreation, leisure, and sports. In his opening statement, Guterres urged Parties to use transport, infrastructure and ICTs to address discrimination and exclusion, particularly against women and girls with disabilities. [UN Press Release]

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