UN calls for more support for people with disabilities

Posted On July 24, 2018

London – Saying a world free from discrimination was possible, the head of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Achim Steiner urged nations to work together to ensure equal rights for people with disabilities.

“A world free from discrimination and marginalization of persons with disabilities is within reach. We are here to discuss how we – as individuals and societies - can ensure that they are given equal access and voice in society so they can realize their fullest possible potential.”  

He was speaking on behalf of the UN Secretary-General at the Global Disability Summit in London hosted by the Governments of Kenya and the United Kingdom, and the International Disability Alliance.  It is the first summit ever to be held on disability.

People with disabilities are the largest minority in the world, comprising fifteen percent of the world’s population, or one billion people.  Many of them are consistently left out of development progress, and during crises or natural disasters they are disproportionately affected. In addition, discriminatory attitudes limit their full participation in society, and contribute to rising inequalities.

The UN General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2006, and it has since become the fastest ratified treaty in the world.

“This convention demonstrates how countries can come together on an issue and move the needle quickly for change,” said Steiner.  “Now, to ensure we realize the promise of the 2030 Agenda – and its core pledge to leave no one behind - it is essential that people with disabilities can participate equally in every aspect of life.”

Steiner also announced a comprehensive review, launched by the UN Secretary-General, to assess how the UN system supports people with disabilities in the areas of accessibility, employment, and all aspects of its development and humanitarian work.  

“At the UN we have long been committed to supporting and advancing the rights of persons with disabilities around the world," said Steiner. "In our humanitarian work, we strive to ensure that persons with disability receive relief and protection.  In our development work, we work to keep the needs and rights of the disabled a focus of our work on the Sustainable Development Goals.” 

“But we are committed to do so much more and to do it better.”

UN Partnerships:                                                                                                             

The United Nations Partnership on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities brings together UN entities, governments, organizations of persons with disabilities and broader civil society.

Since its launch in 2012 the UNPRPD has successfully promoted joint UN action in close to forty countries. 

In Mexico, UNDP, WHO and UNICEF support efforts to ensure full inclusion of children with disabilities:

In Moldova, this partnership helped ensure that persons with mental and intellectual disabilities can live independent lives.

In Vietnam  this work supported persons with disabilities to get access to justice.

In Uganda, children with disabilities received assistive technology to enable them to receive an education.

UNDP Work:

In Syria, UNDP works with UN agencies to support Syrians with disabilities through physical therapy, prosthetics & counseling at health centers & job skills trainings.

Unemployment among people with disabilities is as high as 80% in some countries. UNDP supports policy makers + civil society groups who work on inclusive employment rights in countries like FYR Macedonia.

Fiji's govt wanted to widen access to justice & public service to leave no one behind.  With UNDP and the Government of Japan support, these sign language inclusive “REACH” buses travel to remote rural regions to deliver service to the people. 

At Sierra Leone’s last election UNDP introduced tactile Ballot Guides w/ Braille ballot papers for blind & visually impaired voters to ensure inclusive elections, w/ support from the UK/DFID, Canada, the EU, and Ireland. 

UNDP helps to bring the voice of people with disabilities to the table as key stakeholders, like at the African Disability Forum.


Contact Information: Christina LoNigro, UNDP, +1 212 906 5301, christina.lonigro@undp.org.