Un Secretary-General's Message on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities

03 Dec 2013

“Break Barriers, Open Doors: For An Inclusive Society For All”

More than 1 billion of us live with disabilities.  We must remove all barriers that affect the inclusion and participation of persons with disabilities in society, including through changing attitudes that fuel stigma and institutionalize discrimination.

In September, during the High-Level Meeting of the General Assembly on Disability and Development, United Nations Member States discussed the many ways that exclusion not only impacts the lives of persons with disabilities, but affects the development of communities and society as a whole.  They re-committed to taking national and international action to support disability-inclusive development.  The UN system will continue to support those efforts. We need to work harder to ensure that infrastructure and services support inclusive, equitable and sustainable development for all.

This includes guaranteeing meaningful participation in processes that affect the rights and interests of persons with disabilities by providing an enabling environment.  To that end, we are inaugurating a UN Accessibility Centre at the UN headquarters.  I call on the rest of the UN system and our partners to follow this lead.  

On this International Day of Persons with Disabilities, I call on Governments, members of the UN system, businesses and civil society to break barriers and open doors of opportunity for all persons with disability.  Together, let us build an inclusive society for all.