Press Releases

    30 August 2006

    "A Life with Dignity for All" Is Message of Convention on Disability Rights, Says General Assembly President

    NEW YORK, 29 August (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of the statement by United Nations General Assembly President Jan Eliasson (Sweden) on the occasion of the agreement on the convention on the rights of persons with disabilities, 25 August:

    I sensed already on my way here that I was going to a room where history was going to be made.

    You have done it.  You have done a wonderful job.  This is a very important convention -- the first one of this magnitude of this century.  I hope it will be followed by others.

    You are sending an absolutely wonderful message to the world.  You are sending the message that we want to have a life with dignity for all, and that all human beings are equal.

    Sometimes in diplomacy we get frustrated.  We think, in Shakespeare's way, that we only deal with "words, words, words".  These are "words, words, words", but they are meaningful for hundreds of millions of people.  And it's absolutely wonderful for me as President of the General Assembly to congratulate you for years of work, for the sense of responsibility that you have shown by coming to a conclusion on this wonderful convention.

    I really want to say from the bottom of my heart that this is what we want to do in the United Nations.  This is what we want to do in solidarity with all the people in this world.  If we can bring this spirit to the world in these troubled days, it would be wonderful.

    I once worked for the Swedish Prime Minister, Olof Palme.  He said to me once, after a long day of work, "Remember that the quality of a society is in the end measured by how it treats its most vulnerable citizens."

    You have proven that you are serious about this.  It's a wonderful message, and I thank you warmly.  I thank also this wonderful Chairman, Ambassador Don MacKay of New Zealand.  And I am sure that when you applaud the Chairman, the Chairman also applauds you.  And I know also in the room is Ambassador Gallegos of Ecuador, who also did a great job.

    Thank you very much.

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