IDA Statment on the United Nations High-Level Meeting on Disability and Development

September 23, 2013
Source: International Disability Alliance

INTERNATIONAL DISABILITY ALLIANCE (IDA)
Member Organizations:
Arab Organization of Disabled People, Disabled People’s International,
Down Syndrome International, European Disability Forum,
Inclusion International, International Federation of Hard of Hearing People,
Latin American Network of Non-Governmental Organizations of Persons with Disabilities and their Families, Pacific Disability Forum, World Blind Union, World Federation of the Deaf,
World Federation of the DeafBlind,World Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry

Press Release

United Nations High-Level Meeting on Disability and Development

New York, 23 September 2013 –The United Nations (UN) General Assembly held a High-Level Meeting on disability and development in the General Assembly Hall of the UN today, with statements from over 50 Member States, UN Agencies and civil society. Mr. Yannis Vardakastanis, Chair of the International Disability Alliance (IDA),spoke on behalf of organisations of persons with disabilities (DPOs) at theopening of the meeting.

High-level dignitaries and civil society leaders gathered in New York on 23 September 2013 for the High-Level Meeting of the General Assembly on the realisation of the Millennium Development Goals and other internationally agreed development goals for persons with disabilities. It is the first time in UN history that the rights of persons with disabilities have been discussed within the framework of the UN political agenda.

In his statement, Mr. Vardakastanis called on decision-makers at the highest levels to recognise the importance of mainstreaming the rights of persons with disabilities in the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

“Persons with disabilities must stop being receivers of lower levels of education, of higher levels of unemployment; they must stop being victims to a system that lacksaccessible transportation, healthcare and information services. The post-2015 development agenda must aim to take persons with disabilities out of lower income scales—poverty eradication for persons with disabilities must be fully prioritized,” he said.

Speakers during the opening session of the High-Level Meeting included UN Secretary-General Mr. Ban Ki-moon, President of the General Assembly Mr. John Ashe, Chair of the Committee on the Rights and Participation of Persons with Disabilities Ms. Maria Soledad Cisternas Reyes and Mr. Stevie Wonder, award-winning songwriter and musician and United Nations Messenger of Peace. The meeting comprised two roundtables co-sponsored by the governments of Spain, the Philippines, Finland and Tunisia.

The International Disability Alliance delegation to the High-Level Meeting comprised Mr. Colin Allen (Second Vice Chair and President of the World Federation of the Deaf), Mr. Nawaf Kabbara (Third Vice Chair and President of the Arab Organisation of Disabled People), Mr. Javed Abidi, (IDA Board Member and President of Disabled People’s International) and Ms. Ana Lucia Arellano (IDA Board Member and President of the Latin American Network of Non-Governmental Organisations of Persons with Disabilities and their Families). Also present were IDA organisations represented by Mr. Javier Guemes (Deputy-Director, European Disability Forum), Mr. Patrick Clarke (Chief Executive, Down Syndrome Ireland and European Disability Forum member), Ms. Ruth Warick (President, International Federation of Hard of Hearing People), Ms. Connie Laurin-Bowie (Executive Director, Inclusion International), Ms. Diane Richler (representative, Inclusion International), Ms. Regina Atalla (co-Chair, Latin American Network of Non-Governmental Organisations of Persons with Disabilities and their Families), Ms. Ana Fisher (General Secretary, Latin American Network of Non-Governmental Organisations of Persons with Disabilities and their Families), Ms. Patricia Ospina (Academic and Scientific Research Director, Latin American Network of Non-Governmental Organisations of Persons with Disabilities and their Families), Mr. Latoa Halatau and Mr. Setareki Macanawai (co-chairs, Pacific Disability Forum), Dr. Penny Hartin (Chief Executive Officer, WorldBlind Union), Mr. Geir Jensen (Secretary General, World Federation of the Deafblind), Mr. Salam Gomez (co-Chair, World Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry) and Ms. Robinah Alambuya and Ms. Tina Minkowitz (World Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry).

In advance of the High-Level Meeting, IDA co-sponsored a high-level breakfast event with UNICEF and the Permanent Missions of Mexico and Australia to theUnited Nations. Mr. Vardakastanis spoke at the event alongside Mr Anthony Lake, Executive Director of UNICEF and Mr. Jose Antonio Meade Kuribreña, Minister of Foreign Affairs to the Government of Mexico.

The International Disability Alliance is an alliance of eight global and four regional organisations of persons with disabilities. It is a membership-based organisation of persons with disabilities representing a unique and authoritative voice of the world’s largest and mostly overlooked minority group.

 

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