For information only - not an official document.
Press Release No:  UNIS/SG/2561
Release Date:   15 May 2000
Secretary-General, on Presentation of International Disability Award,
Congratulates Hungary For Efforts at Creating "A Society for All"  

 NEW YORK, 12 May (UN Headquarters) -- Following are the remarks of Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the presentation to Hungary of the Franklin Delano Roosevelt International Disability Award in New York, on 12 May: 

It is a pleasure to be here. Allow me to extend a warm welcome to the President of Hungary, as well as to those who helped organize the presentation of this Award as a reaffirmation of our commitment to human rights. You are all true allies of the United Nations, and I thank you. 

The enjoyment by all people of all human rights -- including the full participation of persons with disabilities in society and development -- goes to the heart of the mission of the United Nations. This has been so throughout the history of our Organization -- from the Charter to the General Assembly's World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons; from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to the Declaration of the World Summit for Social Development . It is fitting, indeed, that this Award honouring the memory of President Roosevelt was established in conjunction with the United Nations' fiftieth anniversary, given his crucial role in the founding of the Organization. 

In the 55 years since the United Nations was created, the world has changed a great deal. We have reached a new level of awareness of the needs of persons with disabilities. At the same time, our world has become interconnected, driven by market integration, mobility and revolutionary communications technology. These very hallmarks of globalization also offer tremendous opportunities for persons with disabilities. We must strive to ensure they are realized to the full. 

For many people with disabilities, lack of access to essential services remains a source of discrimination and lost opportunities. New technology holds the key to unprecedented accessibility. Yet, 80 per cent of the world’s disabled population lives in developing countries. Most of them have never used a telephone, let alone a high-speed computer. We must build digital bridges to ensure that they are included in the digital revolution. We must use these bridges to achieve our common goal of a “society for all”, which is inclusive and accessible for all. 

Today, we pay tribute to Hungary for its efforts to create a society for all -- a society free of discrimination that gives real meaning to the rights of persons with disabilities. In its legislative work to raise awareness and promote access from the human rights perspective, Hungary has set an example that is recognized by this year's International Disability Award. 

It is, therefore, my privilege, Mr. President, to congratulate you, the people and the nation of Hungary on this achievement. I hope it will inspire the rest of the world to build a global society for all, ensuring all human rights for all. Thank you.

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