9 September 2003


NEW YORK, 8 September (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the message by Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the Fourth National Congress of the China Disabled Persons’ Federation in Beijing, 8 September:

It gives me great pleasure to send my greetings to the 60 million members of the China Disabled Persons’ Federation on the occasion of this Fourth National Congress.

More than 600 million men, women and children -- roughly one in every 10 people on earth -- suffer some mental, physical or sensory impairment.  In developed and developing countries alike, they face discrimination and marginalization, and are found disproportionately among the poorest strata of society.  This is a challenge that should be a leading concern for all of us, since it affects not only disabled persons and their families, but also the economic and social development of entire societies.

In principle and in practice, the United Nations works to make societies truly accessible, caring and inclusive for all people, regardless of disability.  The commitment of the United Nations to advance the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities is deeply rooted in the founding ideals of the Organization and in fundamental international human rights instruments.  The concrete steps taken by the United Nations to fight prejudice, strengthen disability prevention and improve access to education and employment are guided by the World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons and the Standard Rules on Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities.

The United Nations and the China Disabled Persons’ Federation have a constructive record of cooperation.  You raised public awareness during the International Decade of Disabled Persons.  Your NGO forum in 2000 helped to advance international dialogue on the rights of persons with disabilities.  You are strongly supporting the elaboration of an international convention on the rights of persons with disabilities.  And your efforts to mobilize disabled people, volunteers, and others are demonstrating the vital importance of participation in the decisions affecting their lives.  Disabled men, women and children, as well as their families, relatives and communities, can and must be involved in all aspects of disability programmes, from policy-making to the implementation and evaluation of projects.


This Fourth National Congress is a valuable opportunity to share best practices, strengthen your advocacy and deepen the partnerships -- within China and with the international community -- that are essential for achieving our common goals.  Please accept my best wishes for success.

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