Press Releases

    20 September 2002


    NEW YORK, 19 September (UN Headquarters) -- Following is Secretary-General Kofi Annan´s message at the presentation of the Franklin Delano Roosevelt International Disability Award, delivered by S. Iqbal Riza, Chef de Cabinet, in New York on 19 September:

    I am very delighted to convey my warmest greetings on the occasion of this year’s Franklin Delano Roosevelt International Disability Award. Since it was established in 1995, to coincide with the fiftieth anniversary of the United Nations, this award has highlighted the shared endeavour of governments, the United Nations, civil society and the private sector to improve the lives of disabled people everywhere.

    I am pleased that this ceremony will benefit from the presence of so many distinguished people -- including Christopher Reeve, who has done so much to advance understanding and awareness of the cause of the disabled worldwide.

    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 work of the United Nations.

    This has been so throughout the history of our Organization -- from the United Nations Charter to the World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons; from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to the Declaration of the World Summit for Social Development.

    The goals of the United Nations in the 21st century are summed up in the Millennium Declaration -- a blueprint for improving the lives of all the world’s people, as expressed in a set of precise, time-bound targets agreed by all the world’s countries.

    Those targets -- the Millennium Development Goals -- whether the eradication of poverty, the achievement of universal primary education or the promotion of global partnership -- are central to improving the lives of people with disabilities, and to helping them pursue an active role in all aspects of development.

    The recipient of this year’s Franklin Delano Roosevelt Award -- Ecuador -- has long been at the forefront of the movement for equal opportunities for disabled people, and for their full participation in society. More than a decade ago, the Government of Ecuador approved a national plan on disabilities, and created a National Council to coordinate policies for both the private and public sector.

    Mr. President, yours was one of the first countries, not only in Latin America but worldwide, to include the rights of people with disabilities in its Constitution, and to provide legal instruments to uphold those rights. Several ground-breaking non-governmental organization projects in Ecuador have received support from the United Nations Voluntary Fund on Disability, which backs actions to promote the rights of persons with disabilities worldwide.

    Señora Baquerizo de Noboa, allow me also to pay tribute to your tireless and dedicated work as ambassador for people with disabilities in your country. And here at the United Nations, Ambassador Luis Gallegos of Ecuador serves as the very able Chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee on an International Convention on the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities, which met for the first time in July.

    And so I am delighted to congratulate the people and Government of Ecuador on receiving the Franklin Delano Roosevelt International Disability Award for 2002. It is richly deserved. I hope many more will follow your example.

    My warmest congratulations, and thank you, Ecuador.

    * *** *