22 November 2005

Make Jobs, Education, Services Available to Those with Disabilities, Says Secretary-General in Message for International Day of Disabled Persons

NEW YORK, 21 November (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's message on the International Day of Disabled Persons, to be observed on 3 December:

This year's International Day of Disabled Persons focuses on the interdependence between disability, human rights and development.

Persons with disabilities make up the world's largest minority group.  They are disproportionately poor, are more likely to be unemployed, and have higher rates of mortality than the general population.  All too often, they do not enjoy the full spectrum of civil, political, social, cultural and economic rights.

For many years, the rights of persons with disabilities were overlooked.  More recently, that has been changing, as progress has been made throughout the world in ensuring that people with disabilities can participate in and benefit from development.  But much more needs to be done to ensure their full integration.

Equal participation requires not only dismantling environmental, social and legal barriers that marginalize persons with disabilities.  It also means making jobs, education, health, information and other services just as accessible to them as to everyone else.

In that mission, a great deal hinges on current negotiations on the Comprehensive and Integral International Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities.  I support the work of the Ad Hoc Committee and hope the negotiations reach a successful conclusion.

On this observance of the International Day of Disabled Persons, let us remember that societies that neglect the integration of persons with disabilities deprive themselves of the valuable contributions such individuals make.  And let us reaffirm our commitment to the equal rights of persons with disabilities, and to their full participation in the economic, social and political lives of their societies.

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