UN Regional Meeting Aims to Empower People with Intellectual Disabilities

Event Takes Place on the Sideline of Shanghai Special Olympics

With the Special Olympics in Shanghai drawing the world’s attention to the rights and potential of people with intellectual disabilities, an Asia-Pacific regional meeting on the issue is taking place alongside the games.

Organized by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) and the China Disabled Persons’ Federations (CDPF), the “Regional Workshop on the Empowerment of Persons with Intellectual Disabilities and their Families” will be held from 11 to 13 October 2007 in Shanghai.

The meeting brings together people with intellectual disabilities, their families, experts and policymakers from China, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of China, India, Japan, Malaysia, Myanmar, New Zealand, the Philippines, Thailand and Viet Nam. There will be a presentation by a Chinese athlete who took part in the Special Olympics. Participants will also attend the closing ceremony of the Olympics in the evening of 11 October.

While the Special Olympics helped shift the society’s attitude towards intellectually disabled people, there is an urgent need to pay further attention to solving the problems they face on a daily basis. Due to a lack of social and community support, many intellectually disabled people stay with their families, with no other places to go. Their families worry about what would happen to them after those who take care of them become feeble or die. As a result of social prejudice, persons with intellectual disabilities are often denied their own choices in life.

UNESCAP has been promoting an inclusive, barrier-free and rights-based society for persons with all disabilities within the framework of the Asian and Pacific Decade of Disabled Persons (2003-2012). The document which guides regional policy – the Biwako Millennium Framework for Action and its supplement, Biwako Plus Five -- incorporates the latest global thinking on disability which is reflected in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the first disability-specific human rights treaty which was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly last December.

CDPF, the co-organizer of the workshop, is China’s national cross-disability organization. It promotes full participation and equality of persons with disabilities nationwide. CDPF is a member of the organizing committee of the Special Olympics.

The workshop takes place at Shanghai Rehabilitation CentrHotel.