3 July 2001


NEW YORK, 2 July (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of remarks made today by Secretary-General Kofi Annan at the presentation of the Franklin Delano Roosevelt International Disability Award:

Let me start by saying that I am delighted to join you today for the presentation of this award, which furthers and inspires the legacy of President Roosevelt.

This annual ceremony draws much-needed attention to the rights and aspirations of people with disabilities -- an estimated 600 million men, women and children throughout the world. I would therefore like to congratulate the Roosevelt Institute and the World Committee on Disability for their strong and enduring commitment to this cause.

I would also like to say a special word of welcome to Her Royal Highness, Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, who is here to accept the award on behalf of this year's recipient, the Kingdom of Thailand.

In the past decade, Thailand has made remarkable progress in supporting persons with disabilities and in giving this issue a prominent place in the national agenda.

The Government of Thailand has adopted innovative policies that will go a long way towards creating a society in which persons with disabilities enjoy equal opportunity, including their right to employment.

The Government has established a comprehensive national plan for the rehabilitation of persons with disabilities. It has started a fund to support businesses run by persons with disabilities, and it has taken steps to increase access to public transport.

Regional cooperation has also figured largely in the country's efforts, in the context of the Asian-Pacific Decade of Disabled Persons.

Thailand's National Institute of Development Administration and the Association of South-East Asian Nations organized a seminar on access to the Internet, and this was highly appreciated.

Thailand has worked closely with the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific to raise awareness of disability issues.

And it played an important role in the adoption, last December, of the "Bangkok Millennium Declaration on the Promotion of the Rights of People with Disabilities in the Asia and Pacific Region".

Today's recognition is thus richly deserved, and I hope it will serve as an example to other nations.

The full equality of persons with disabilities, and their full participation in the social, economic and political life of their country, are two important objectives of the United Nations -- in keeping with the Charter, with international human rights instruments and with the World Programme of Action adopted by the General Assembly in 1982, which provides the basic framework for our work in this field.

If we are to fulfil the ambitious goals of the Millennium Declaration, we need everyone's talents, everyone's ideas, everyone's energies. We need to build a truly accessible society, which enables persons with disabilities to share the new opportunities created by globalization and the new information technologies. Their benefit will be our benefit; their success will be our success.

In that spirit, let us pay tribute to Thailand's achievements. And let us all reaffirm our determination to translate the principles of human dignity, equality and equity into action, thereby making an essential investment in our common future: a global society for all. That should be our goal -- a global society for all.

* *** *