Remarks by Ms. Sonali Dayaratne, Deputy Resident Representative, UNDP Cambodia
Reflection Workshop on the Implementation of the National Disability Strategic Plan 2019-2023
November 28, 2022
Excellency Em Chan Makara, Secretary of State of the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation and Secretary General of the Disability Action Council,
Excellency Chheang Orm, Secretary of State of Ministry of National Defence
Excellency Heng Tai Kry, Secretary of State of Ministry of Health
Excellency Net Phumari, Secretary of State of the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts
Excellency Hor Sarun, Secretary of State of Ministry of Tourism
Excellency Saray Chhon, Secetary of State of Ministry of Religions
Ms. Mak Monika, Executive Director of the Cambodian Disabled People’s Organization
Ms. Anne Rouve Khiev, Team Leader of the ACCESS Programme,
Excellencies, colleagues, persons with disabilities, friends from the media, distinguished guests,
Allow me to begin by expressing my appreciation to our partners, the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation, Disability Action Council, Cambodian Disabled People’s Organization, Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), and Organizations of Persons with Disabilities (OPDs), for organizing this important workshop to reflect on progress and lessons learnt from implementation of the Implementation of the National Disability Strategic Plan 2019-2023.
As we know, disability inclusion cuts across the economic, social and environmental spheres of the Sustainable Development Goals, and is at the heart of the Sustainable Development Agenda of Leaving No One Behind. It is impressive to see representatives from across sectors in the room today, including the Disability Action Working Group of the line ministries, provincial disability action councils, persons with disabilities and Organizations of Persons with Disabilities, development partners including other UN agencies, civil society organizations, as well as international and national non-governmental organizations.
Today’s workshop highlights the impressive efforts of the Royal Government of Cambodia, primarily through the coordination of the Disability Action Council, to meet obligations as a State Party to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. This includes ensuring and promoting the full realization of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for persons with disabilities, without discrimination of any kind on the basis of disability.
UNDP’s disability rights programming spans for almost a decade, with a commitment to supporting the Royal Government of Cambodia to promote the rights of persons with disabilities, including the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. UNDP, in partnership with the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation, the Disability Action Council, and other organizations (including OPDs, UN, INGOs and NGOs), has contributed to the building of national capacity and institutional systems to draft the State report to the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the National Disability Strategic Plan 2019-2023, the current revisions to the National Disability Law, and the ratification process of the Marrakesh Treaty. These efforts support key government commitments to ensure that the rights of persons with disabilities are recognized and given effect to.
Excellencies, distinguished guests,
Like countries across the globe, Cambodia has experienced significant challenges as a result of the multiple crises we have faced, including the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the challenges, noteworthy progress has taken place over the last four years since the National Disability Strategic Plan was endorsed and implemented. Over 58,000 persons with disabilities, 50% of them being women, now have access to public services and social protection schemes, including physical rehabilitation and assistive devices, and the COVID-19 cash transfer programme and other economic assistance.
Many legislative instruments and policies have also been formulated and rolled out during the implementation of the National Disability Strategic Plan. We have seen the introduction of a driving license for persons with disabilities, the national circular requiring national and subnational authorities to ensure public infrastructure is accessible to persons with disabilities, and an increased national budget to support social services on the ground. A digital monitoring and evaluation system has also been established and is being piloted, to ensure smooth implementation of national laws and policies, including the National Disability Strategic Plan and Disability Law.
Excellencies, distinguished guests,
As Cambodia continues its recovery from the pandemic, it simultaneously faces additional uncertainties driven largely by external shocks. Optimistic views of economic recovery in 2022 are being reconsidered due to the impact of the war in Ukraine, including the increase in the cost of living because of soaring fuel and other commodity prices, exacerbating poverty and vulnerabilities of large segments of the population. To mitigate these impacts, the Royal Government of Cambodia made an important decision to expand social protection coverage to at-risk populations living near the national poverty line. This is very good news to prevent people from falling back into poverty, and to enhance their resilience to shocks, which is imperative for persons with disabilities who are among the most vulnerable to these shocks.
Excellencies, colleagues from the disability and development communities, distinguished guests,
I would like to conclude by commending the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation, the Disability Action Council, government ministries, and the disability community, for working intensively together during the next two and a half days to ensure that persons with disabilities will be able to exercise their rights and that no one is left behind from the country’s development dividends.
I would also like to express our appreciation to the Government of Australia through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) for its support to our programme to promote disability inclusion and the rights of persons with disabilities, in partnership with the Royal Government of Cambodia and other partners.
Finally, I would like to acknowledge in advance the commemoration of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities on 3rd December. The theme of this year’s celebration is ‘transformative solutions for inclusive development: the role of innovation in fuelling an accessible and equitable world.’ I hope that we can all bring a mindset of innovation to further progress the rights of persons with disabilities, through an open exchange and reflection on adaptable or scalable solutions, as well as results and lessons so far, that can be a solid foundation for the next phase of the National Disability Strategic Plan.
I wish you a fruitful workshop.
Thank you, Saum Orkun.