Asia-Pacific governments launch a new Decade of disability-inclusive development

Asia-Pacific countries meeting here today at the largest intergovernmental forum on disability-inclusive sustainable development, launched a new 10-year regional strategy to realize a disability-inclusive society.

Ministers from 18 countries and senior Government representatives from 37 nations, as well as civil society leaders from 47 organisations are attending the 29 October to 2 November “High-level Intergovernmental Meeting on the Final Review of the Implementation of the Asian and Pacific Decade of Disabled Persons, 2003-2012” convened by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and hosted by the Government of the Republic of Korea, to review milestones and discuss forward-looking policies for making societies more disability-inclusive.

The Asian and Pacific Decade of Persons with Disabilities, 2013-2022 will consolidate and take forward the achievement of the first two Asian and Pacific Decades of Disabled Persons, aiming to accelerate realization of the rights of the estimated 650 million persons with disabilities in the region, the majority of them poor, disadvantaged and discriminated against.

Inaugurating the 1-2 November Ministerial segment of the Meeting, His Excellency, Mr. Kim Hwang-sik, Prime Minister of the Republic of Korea said: “In order to protect and ensure the inherent dignity and fundamental human rights of persons with disabilities, we need to engage every level of society from governments to businesses to persons with disabilities to persons with disabilities themselves.”

Speaking at the opening, Mr. Shun-ichi Murata, Deputy Executive Secretary of ESCAP acknowledged the unique opportunity to chart the course of the new Asian and Pacific Decade of Persons with Disabilities, 2013 to 2022: “There is much excitement and hope that we can move towards the vision of societies that promote, respect and uphold the rights of all persons with disabilities.

”The new Decade will give greater impetus to the drive for integration of disability perspectives into national, subregional and regional development agendas across Asia and the Pacific.

The launch of the new Decade was followed by a special ceremony to honour 10 “Asia-Pacific Champions of Disability Rights” who have devoted their lives to promote the rights of persons with disabilities.

Another key outcome of the Meeting is the expected adoption tomorrow by Asia-Pacific member States of the pioneering “Incheon Strategy” for implementing the new Decade.

While many Governments in the region have implemented policies and/or legal measures to protect the rights of persons with disabilities, more action is needed.

This includes improving access to the physical environment, education and livelihood opportunities, greater participation in decision-making, gender equality for women with disabilities, making disaster risk reduction disability-inclusive as well as accelerating adoption and implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities which has been ratified by only 25 Asia-Pacific countries as of 10 October 2012.

The outcome of the Meeting will provide the Asia-Pacific perspective to the United Nations General Assembly “High-level Meeting on Disability and Development” to be convened in New York on 23 September 2013 to help shape the post-2015 global development agenda.