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Opening Statement by Ms. Flavia Pansieri United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights on Technical cooperation and capacity-building

Human Rights Council 26th Session
High-level Panel Discussion on Human Rights Mainstreaming

Geneva, 25 June 2014
10.00-13.00, Room XX

Mr. President,
Distinguished Members of the Human Rights Council,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am pleased to open this annual discussion on technical cooperation and capacity-building, which focuses on advancing the rights of persons with disabilities through legal and institutional frameworks, including public-private partnerships – a theme of tremendous importance to all countries.

Following Council Resolution 24/31, my Office has prepared a report that provides an overview of the various activities that United Nations agencies and regional organizations have undertaken in support of efforts by States to promote and protect the rights of persons with disabilities. The report highlights a broad range of activities including national legislation, policies and programmes, and the work of mainstreaming the rights of persons with disabilities in development efforts. It is available in accessible formats on OHCHR's website.

Promotion and protection of the rights of persons with disabilities remains one of the key areas of OHCHR’s technical cooperation programmes, both at Headquarters and in the countries and regions where OHCHR has a presence.  We are seeing increasing ratifications of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol, and this has led to more demands for technical assistance by States parties – mainly in reviewing their national legislation and policies under the Convention, and in building appropriate national implementation and monitoring mechanisms.
My Office works to promote the human rights-based approach to disability, and the challenging paradigm shift that this entails – for policy, law, programmes, and practice. We also promote the participation of persons with disabilities in all legislative and policy-making processes – not only issues specifically concerning disability. Furthermore, we provide support to an increasing number of specialized bodies, focal points and independent national human rights institutions working in this field. Our experience demonstrates that more technical capacity needs to be built, both within the UN system and at national level.

Technical cooperation can also involve non-State parties, including the private sector. As part of their obligations to respect, protect and fulfil the rights of persons with disabilities, States should encourage businesses to adopt the UN Guiding Principles on business and human rights and should hold them accountable. On topics such as “reasonable accommodation” and recruitment, in the broader context of building inclusive and accessible workplaces; peer learning; technical innovation; and the work of public-private partnerships, all partners can benefit from sharing their ideas. Governments should facilitate and incentivize such partnerships and capacity-building.

Human rights mechanisms continue to provide useful guidance on ways to achieve progress in the daily lives of persons with disabilities in all parts of the world. The jurisprudence developed by the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities provides a sound basis for the technical cooperation and advisory work of the UN. The current cycle of the Universal Periodic Review has seen an increase in recommendations on this, and this in turn has encouraged more States to ask for OHCHR's support in advancing the enjoyment of human rights by persons with disabilities.

OHCHR is part of the United Nations Partnership on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which manages a Multi Donor Trust Fund. Its work continues to demonstrate the efficiency and value of coordinated efforts between States, UN agencies and organizations of persons with disabilities. I encourage all member States to continue to contribute to this Fund, as well as to the Voluntary Fund for Technical cooperation. We will be hearing from a representative  of the Voluntary Fund during our discussions today.

The post-2015 development agenda will provide new opportunities for inclusion of persons with disabilities. We continue to work to ensure that the future development agenda will include a strong commitment to the human rights-based approach to disability. Direct involvement of States is needed to guarantee that the rights of persons with disabilities are properly reflected in the forthcoming set of agreed goals. Once we achieve inclusive goals and targets, as well as disaggregated and relevant indicators, technical cooperation will be of crucial importance in order to build national capacity, so that this agenda becomes a reality in line with international human rights laws and treaties.

We have with us today a distinguished panel of speakers. Drawing from their rich experience and your discussions, I look forward to ideas on how we can further enhance technical cooperation and capacity building, so that we can thoroughly and firmly respond – together with other UN agencies and regional organizations, the private sector, persons with disabilities themselves and other partners – to national needs around the globe.

We have made considerable advances on making the rights of persons with disabilities a reality, but much remains to be done. I invite you all to be part of this process, and to support the various mechanisms in the UN system that work for better frameworks to ensure that persons with disabilities can participate in society on an equal basis with others.

Thank you.

Ms. Mariclaire Acosta Urquidi, member of the Board of Trustees of the Voluntary Fund for Technical Cooperation in the Field of Human Rights