Regional expert-cum-stakeholder consultation on the rights of Asia-Pacific persons with disabilities

First step towards new Asia-Pacific agenda for disability-inclusive development

The first step has been taken towards crafting a new Asia-Pacific agenda for persons with disabilities to participate fully in society, following the conclusion of the Asian and Pacific Decade of Disabled Persons, 2003-2012.

Held at the United Nations Conference Centre, Bangkok, from 23 to 25 June 2010, the Expert Group Meeting/Stakeholder Consultation to Review the Implementation of the Second Asian and Pacific Decade of Disabled Persons, 2003-2012, launched a regional preparatory process comprising three parallel tracks: intergovernmental consensus-building; stakeholder engagement and advocacy; and assessment of Decade achievements and remaining challenges.

Some 90 experts from Government, the United Nations system and civil society, including disabled people’s organizations, agreed on a road map for the regional preparatory process leading up to the high-level intergovernmental meeting to review second Decade implementation, to be held in October 2012 in Incheon, Republic of Korea.

Experts acknowledged strengthened measures in many Asia-Pacific countries for empowerment and the rights of persons with disabilities. They saw critical need for wider ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities – the first-ever disability-specific human rights treaty which entered into force in 2008. To date, 48 Governments in the Asia-Pacific region have signed or ratified it.

There was strong consensus on the need for a new decade in the post-2012 era. Various options were considered concerning a possible new decade theme focusing on the Convention and disability-inclusive development. The experts agreed on the purpose and primary focus of a new decade and identified key elements of a new decade strategy.

The report of the Meeting will be considered by the Committee on Social Development, an ESCAP legislative body, whose second session will be held in Bangkok from 19 to 21 October 2010.
The Meeting benefited from the active participation of Asia-Pacific disabled people’s organizations that had met immediately prior to the Meeting and produced the Bangkok Recommendation and a draft Incheon strategy as inputs for its consideration.

“This Meeting represents a crucial turning point for persons with disabilities in the region”, observed Mr. Shoji Nakanishi, Regional Chairperson of Disabled People’s International Asia-Pacific. “We, as agents of social change, devised a strategic plan for the new decade which we hope will focus on accelerating the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in each subregion.”

“Achieving the rights of persons with disabilities means we must have disability-inclusive development of all sectors. Furthermore, of all the issues we face, promoting the rights of persons with disabilities living in poverty is surely our topmost priority, especially in the present era of global uncertainty and economic turmoil,” noted Ms. Nanda Krairiksh, Director, Social Development Division, ESCAP.

“Let us work together for a more humane, more equitable and more just Asia-Pacific, a region that can be as proud of the full participation of its persons with disabilities, as it is of the high-rises that symbolize its economic dynamism”, Ms. Krairiksh said.

There are an estimated 400 million persons with disabilities in Asia-Pacific. Less than 4 per cent of children with disabilities have access to primary education. This is 20 times less than that for the total population. The unemployment rate of persons with disabilities exceeds 70 per cent; this is some 10 times higher than that of the total population.

For documentation related to the Expert Group Meeting/Stakeholder Consultation to Review the Implementation of the Asian and Pacific Decade of Disabled Persons, 2003-2012, 23-25 June 2010, visit www.unescap.org/ESID/hds/mtg/EGM/2010/index.asp or www.unescap.org/sdd/meetings/egm_BMF_review/index.asp (in accessible format).

You may also contact:

Ms. Aiko Akiyama Social Affairs Officer Population and Social Integration Section Emerging Social Issues Division ESCAP Bangkok Tel: 662-2882315 Mobile: 66-81-8309176 Fax: 662-2881030 or 2881009