UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for greater inclusion of specially-abled persons in society, including in Covid-19 response and recovery.
The UN chief made the remarks on Monday while addressing countries that are parties to the 2006 Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, reports Xinhua news agency.
“Realizing the rights of persons with disabilities is crucial to fulfilling the core promise of the 2030 Agenda: to leave no one behind,” he said, referring to the global action plan to bring about a more just and sustainable world.
“In all our actions, our goal is clear: a world in which all persons can enjoy equal opportunities, participate in decision-making and truly benefit from economic, social, political and cultural life. That is a goal worth fighting for.”
The 13th session of the Conference of States Parties to the Convention is taking place ahead of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, commemorated annually on December 3.
Like most UN events this year, it is being held under the cloud the Covid-19 pandemic, with participants meeting both in person and online.
The pandemic has deepened pre-existing inequalities affecting the world’s 1 billion persons with disabilities, the Secretary-General said.
Even under normal circumstances they were already less likely to access education, healthcare and jobs, or to be included in their communities.
“While I celebrate that there now 182 parties to the convention, the pandemic has made evident that there is still a long way to go in fully understanding the human rights model of disability enshrined in the convention, and therefore in fully implementing its provisions,” Guterres said in a video message.
The top UN official further emphasized that securing the rights of the specially-abled persons is necessary for upholding the values and principles that underlie the UN.
Last year, Guterres launched a UN-wide Disability Inclusion Strategy, aimed at bringing about lasting and transformative change across the organization and its operations.