Celebrating the 10th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
A musical performance by Dame Evelyn Glennie: the world’s premier solo percussionist
1 September 2016, 18h-19h,
Entrance Hall Palais Wilson
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is a pleasure to be with you to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and to welcome you to Palais Wilson. May I begin by thanking the Permanent Mission of Germany to the United Nations Office at Geneva for sponsoring this event along with CBM.
The Convention and its Optional Protocol, adopted by the General Assembly on 13 December 2006, gave Persons with Disabilities visibility: before the Convention, persons with disabilities were concealed, side-lined, marginalised in a few resolutions and declarations. The Convention affirms their rights explicitly and spells out the actions needed to implement them.
Ladies and gentlemen
Ten years after the adoption of the Convention, we can see some achievements:
The shift from a medical and charity approach to the human rights approach promoted in the Convention, which encompass rights and obligations, is gaining strength. The negative attitudes based on traditional thinking are being challenged. Societies’ own response to impairment is changing.
By presenting their initial reports to the Committee, the first 40 States have taken stock of the rights of persons with disabilities, and started realizing that much, much more needs to be done.
The Committee has been at the vanguard of the disability rights movement since the entry into force of the Convention. Its work, since its first review of an initial report in 2011has been, and remains, pioneering: interpreting the requirements of the Convention including through ground-breaking General Comments. This is also recognised for example through the upcoming Social Forum which shall focus on the rights of persons with disabilities.
Ladies and gentlemen
The Convention will continue to play a crucial role in the years to come: it serves to educate as much as to ensure that obligations are met. Indeed, State parties now refer to the Convention in their awareness-raising campaigns, and also use it as a point of reference to measure the enjoyment of human rights by all persons with disabilities.
The Convention will also be key in the realisation of the 2030 Development Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): persons with disabilities were forgotten in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), but succeeded in being well included in many of the SDGs. Indeed, 7 targets refer to persons with disabilities.
On my behalf and that of the OHCHR, allow me to congratulate the outgoing Chair, Maria Soledad Cisternas Reyes, for her efficient work and the professionalism with which she has steered the Committee over the past 4 years. I also wish to bid farewell, and extend our appreciation, to five outgoing Committee Members, Ms Ana Pelaez Narvaez, Ms Silvia Quan-Chang, Ms Safak Pavey, Ms Diane Kingston, and Mr Mohammed Al-Tarawneh.
I want to particularly pay tribute to the women committee members and truly hope that in future elections the gender balance will be rectified by Member States. And what a privilege it is for us to welcome Evelyn Glennie here this evening.
I wish the Committee all the best in its important work in the years ahead.