Building back better: People with disabilities have vital role
01 December 2020
International Day of Persons with Disabilities
3 December 2020
GENEVA (1 December 2020) – As the world looks beyond COVID-19, UN human rights experts have urged States to ensure that people with disabilities are fully included in the "building back better" process. To mark the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (3 December 2020), they issue the following remarks:
Danlami Basharu, Chair of the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities:
"The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the precarious nature of the gains made in the past two decades by and for persons with disabilities. States must work to mitigate its immediate and short-term effects and also plan better for future crises to make sure that no one is left behind in reality.
One obvious learning from the past few months is the conspicuous lack of consultation with people with disabilities, their representative organisations and human rights defenders with disabilities, in shaping the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Problems that were wholly predictable were missed and this negatively affected both the legitimacy of immediate responses and their effectiveness."
Gerard Quinn, Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities:
"The COVID-19 pandemic highlights that protection, response and recovery efforts will not be effective unless everyone is equally valued and included. Only through the adoption of a human rights approach will we achieve equitable, sustainable and resilient societies. This includes, among others, the recognition of education as an essential element to empower persons with disabilities and to integrate them into their communities socially and politically.
Innovation is needed to replace fragile support systems with an assurance of continuity during crises. The future cannot be like the past, and that is what 'building back better' should be all about."
María Soledad Cisternas Reyes, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General on Disability and Accessibility:
"Another obvious learning has to do with improving the accessibility and availability of relevant information and communications to those most at risk. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we also experienced the extreme fragility of support systems for persons with disabilities, as well as other community support services. The multidimensional poverty and marginalization caused was obvious: extreme isolation, lack of access to basic services, including food and medicine, an enhanced risk of violence against women and girls with disabilities in the home, and even homelessness. It had a disproportionate impact on women and girls with disabilities and on older persons with disabilities."
Mr. Gerard Quinn, UNSpecial Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities, is part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council's independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms. Special Procedures mandate-holders are independent human rights experts appointed by the Human Rights Council to address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. They are not UN staff and are independent from any government or organization. They serve in their individual capacity and do not receive a salary for their work.