Press Releases

    1 December 2005

    Panel Discussion on Disability Rights to Mark International Day of Disabled Persons on 2 December

    NEW YORK, 30 November (UN Headquarters) -- A panel discussion on disability rights on Friday, 2 December, will mark the observance of the International Day of Disabled Persons 2005 at United Nations Headquarters.

    The panel discussion will be held from 1:15 p.m. to 2:45 p.m. in Conference Room 4.  Bill Albert of the United Kingdom's Department for International Development (DFID) and the International Disability Equality Agency (IDEA) will speak on "A Rights-based Approach to Disability and Development".  Linda Mastandrea, of the International Paralympic Committee will address "Disability, Sports and Development".  Johan Schölvinck, Director of the Division for Social Policy and Development in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, will make opening remarks.

    Dr. Albert is a researcher and consultant on disability and development, and a member of the British Council of Disabled People's International Committee.

    He has worked in the Russian Federation and Europe, and manages a regional independent living scheme.  Ms. Mastandrea is a human rights advisor with the Bonn-based International Paralympic Committee.  She received the 1994 International Olympic Committee President's Disabled Athlete Award.

    The theme of this year's International Day is "Rights of Persons with disabilities:  action in development".  It focuses on the interdependence between human rights, development and disability, and aims at involving persons with disabilities in the development process.  The theme was chosen in the light of the International Convention on the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities, which is currently being negotiated at the United Nations.

    "There can be no development unless everyone is included", Mr. Schölvinck said.  "Denying persons with disabilities their human rights prevents them from taking part in development and in sharing the benefits.  Persons with disabilities remain largely marginalized and are disproportionately poorer, frequently unemployed, with higher rates of mortality and largely excluded from civil and political life, with no voice in matters that affect them."

    In the last few decades, slow and uneven progress has been made to address these problems from a human rights perspective, Mr. Schölvinck said, adding that "thirty years have passed since the 1975 Declaration on the Rights of Disabled Persons, and the concerns raised in that General Assembly resolution are still with us today".  Areas that need to be addressed include environmental and social barriers, policies, laws and services, as well as ensuring that persons with disabilities have equal access to jobs, education, health, information and other services.

    Also marking the International Day, the award-winning documentary Murderball will be screened tomorrow, Thursday, 1 December at 6 p.m. in the Dag Hammarskjöld Auditorium, with co-director Dana Adam Shapiro in attendance.

    The annual observance of the Day aims to promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilize support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities.  It seeks to increase awareness of the gains to be derived from the integration of persons with disabilities into every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life.

    For further information, please contact Edoardo Bellando at the Department of Public Information, tel.: 212 963 8275, e-mail:

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