Judith Heumann, the Special Advisor for International Disability Rights promoted the inclusion of disability issues and persons with disabilities in a range of international initiatives during her visit to New York City from June 6 to June 10. As is usually the case with the Special Advisor, there was not a dull moment in the week. Ms. Heumann had four full days of meetings with representatives from UN agencies, governments, and civil society organizations, and attended the launch of the World Report on Disability, which was opened with a video message by Professor Stephan Hawking.
The launch of the World Report on Disability, produced jointly by the World Health Organization and the World Bank, is exciting news in the realm of international disability rights. It establishes a significantly increased estimate of the population of disabled people worldwide, from 650 million to 1 billion people. This estimate makes disabled people the world’s largest minority, at 15% of the world’s population. These new statistics demonstrate the necessity for urgent action on disability rights worldwide. The World Report on Disability an important step towards promoting a wider understanding of disability and disabled people around the world, as well as being a useful tool for the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) – a UN convention intended to promote and protect the rights of people with disabilities.
In conjunction with the launch of the World Report, at a side event to the UN High Level Meeting on AIDS, the Special Advisor spoke on a panel that focused on the value of the World Report on Disability in supporting the implementation of the CRPD.
Ms. Heumann also engaged with representatives from a variety of organizations from around the world, such as AusAID, Japan International Cooperation Agency, UNICEF, Human Rights Watch, Rehabilitation International and the International Disability Alliance, and emphasized the inclusion of disability rights in a broad spectrum of global initiatives. Together, the Special Advisor and the groups identified areas where international organizations, governments, non-governmental organizations, and members of civil society can collaborate to promote international disability rights.
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