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Statements Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

High Commissioner urges for elevated ambitions on disability rights

Disability Rights: advancing the agenda

21 May 2024

Delivered by

Volker Türk, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights


Wilton Park Retreat

I send warm greetings to all of you engaged in this discussion of the future of disability rights – within the United Nations (UN) framework, and in the run up to next year's Global Disability Summit.

Tremendous progress has been made in advancing disability rights since the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. 

Still, many barriers continue to obstruct the full realization of rights of all persons with disabilities.

The UN Disability Inclusion Strategy, UNDIS, was set up in 2019 with my Office’s support. It was conceived as an accountability framework rooted in human rights law and peace and development commitments, guided by its own high-level Secretariat.

Looking ahead, I believe we need to further elevate our ambitions. We need your support, not only because it is the right thing to do for persons with disabilities, but also because disability rights offer precious common ground in which we can work together, free from political and geopolitical disputes. This is an area where we can easily choose cooperation over conflict – and where we can then showcase, and build on, the tremendous advances which we will harvest from that choice of unity and collaboration.

I call on States to reassess – and step up – both their political and their financial commitments to disability rights. 

My Office is working with other parts of the UN system to champion disability rights, globally and in countries. Every nation and every agency can strive for greater inclusivity and effectiveness in upholding the full range of human rights for every person with disabilities.

I also invite you to reflect on the institutional setting, seniority, stability, and resources of the UNDIS Secretariat. 

To spark transformative change, we need to boost support for an even stronger institutional framework. 

It is just not enough to declare our support for disability rights. We need to deliver them. We need to walk the talk.

That means working with fully empowered people with disabilities, and their representative organizations, so that together, we translate their rights into lived realities.

I wish you a fruitful retreat.