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Care models for inclusion of people with disabilities


11 March 2024
Delivered by: Nada Al-Nashif United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights

Mr. President, 

I am honoured to address this annual interactive debate on the rights of persons with disabilities, focusing on good practices establishing support systems for community inclusion.

Despite many efforts made, persons with disabilities are still too often left behind in our societies and economies, many remain segregated and isolated from the rest of the community in institutions and their homes. This is not an oversight but it is a profound injustice that demands immediate attention.

Our Office, with the support of the co-sponsors of the resolution – New Zealand and Mexico, was given the opportunity to explore the framework and good practices of support and care systems for community inclusion for two years. Evidence shows that urgent action to integrate disability rights in care and support economy debates and policies is needed.

Our Office has called upon governments to rally behind and promote the concept of a human rights economy; a blueprint to ensure that economic and social policies are guided by and invested in human rights. Success cannot be measured by the size of GDP alone but also critically by the well-being of all people, including persons e with disabilities and those who support them. The human rights economy, with care and support systems at its core, works to reduce such inequalities and dismantle systemic discrimination.

To meet our ambition, we must:

  1. transform traditional care models, which are a source of harm for persons with disabilities.
  2. Also develop coordination mechanisms within governments to establish effective and efficient governance structures supporting care and support systems, including data collection and utilization.
  3. Also work together with persons with disabilities and their representative organizations in order to place their voices and rights at the centre of decision-making processes.
  4. ensure key policy areas are well embedded in care and support economy efforts, including:
    1. Cash transfers to cover disability related extra-costs,
    2. Support services that respect the dignity and autonomy of persons with disabilities,
    3. Assistive and new technologies, including digital, which enhance functioning and reduce the need for human support,
    4. Point-to-point transport, including paratransit options to increase access to sector-specific activities, including work, education, and health,
    5. Accessible housing, to counter institutionalization, including house adjustments’ support,
    6. And Respect for legal capacity and supported to decision making, as needed.

During the Human Rights 75 Initiative, commemorated last year in December the High Commissioner called for the transformation of the traditional care models. Collectively, we have the power and the tools to achieve this, but we must  act, decisively. We were gratified to see the level of commitment by states across regions, with 10 pledges very specifically made around disability inclusion.

Developments in Australia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Kenya, Mexico, and Uruguay are just a few examples where countries are grasping this opportunity to act by reforming or developing care and support systems, including laws, policies and services that advance human rights and wellbeing of both care and support givers and receivers.

Recently, the General Assembly, the Human Rights Council and the Economic and Social Council have called for the establishment of human rights-based care and support systems, under the leadership of Spain, Chile, Mexico, Argentina, and Iceland.

We are proud to continue working with all these states to translate this call into tangible action, mainstream an intersectional approach and to encourage them to lead by example. I invite all states to partner with us in the development of their national care and support systems.

We are eager to support the implementation of the recommendations outlined in our reports, including in emergency contexts. As an example, our Office is working with Qatar to develop tools to address the lack of support systems for disabled people in emergencies, along with providing capacity building in the area.

Your Excellencies,

The transformation of care economy demands the adequate allocation of resources to establish systems that reduce and redistribute unpaid care and support work, departing from past approaches.  Care institutions deprive from autonomy agency and independence – Only human rights-based solutions will ensure inclusion in our societies and economies, and remedy ongoing harmful practices.

This year’s high-level mainstreaming panel demonstrated that disability inclusion is indeed a shared priority for Member States. At global level, we need to increase efforts for standard setting and in order to build  a joint commitment anchored in solidarity and cooperation.

The upcoming Summit of the Future is once-in-a-generation opportunity to boost the implementation of the commitment to leave no person with a disability behind, agree on concrete solutions to the challenges that persons with disabilities face, and reinvigorate multilateralism for disability inclusion.

We must be mindful that the steps we take, the commitments we make, and the partnerships we forge with persons with disabilities, if they are to be truly transformative, will shape their inclusion for generations to come.

In this context, I call on all States to reflect their commitment to establish disability-responsive support and care systems in the Pact for the Future, including through the Declaration for Future Generations, as a step towards the Social Summit.

Annual interactive debate on the rights of persons with disabilities