Incorporating issues of persons with disabilities in development, also known as disability-inclusive development, is key to meeting the pledge of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to “leave no one behind”. However, realizing this premise has not been an easy task, as issues faced by persons with disabilities are cross cutting and complex.
Historically, persons with disabilities have been largely regarded as recipients of charity, which results in a similar approach to philosophy and design of social protection policies towards them, and of policies and programmes on how they can gain access to physical environment, information, and at a wider scale, social, economic cultural and political opportunities.
Another complicating issue is that the means to even identify disability differs between and within countries and areas owing to differing conceptualizations of disability and the operationalization of the definition. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that across the world, 15 per cent of the population have a disability.1 While this ratio translates to 690 million in the Asian and Pacific context, the prevalence of disability reported by member States and associate members in the region ranges from 1 percent to 24 percent.
The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) has been the regional engine to move forward disability rights and disability-inclusive development in Asia and the Pacific, through innovative region-specific disability decade initiatives. The first Asian and the Pacific Decade of Disabled Persons, from 1993 to 2002, aimed at raising awareness of the importance of creating legislation, policies and programmes that address the issues faced by persons with disabilities. The highlight of the Decade was ESCAP’s technical cooperation projects which improved accessibility of roads and transportation covering capitals such as Beijing, Seoul and New Delhi.2
The Second Asian and Pacific Decade of Disabled Persons, 2003 to 2012, emphasized a paradigm shift from a charity-based approach to a rights-based approach to disability, reflected in policies and programmes in the region.3 The Biwako Millennium Framework for Action towards an Inclusive, Barrier-free and Rights-based Society for Persons with Disabilities in Asia and the Pacific and the Biwako Plus Five, both inter-governmentally agreed disability-specific instruments to guide the second Decade, were instrumental in motivating Governments to adopt rights-based policies and programmes both at the national and sub regional levels. The two regional initiatives benefitted from the vibrancy of the activities of representative organizations of and for persons with disabilities, as they articulated often overlooked policy needs, and provided the region with globally progressive standards and practices on disability-rights and disability-inclusive development.
Building on the achievements of and lessons learnt from the previous two Decades, the third and current Decade of Persons with Disabilities, 2013 to 2022, underscores the importance of generating reliable and comparable data to measure the extent of participation of persons with disabilities in various development opportunities within and across borders, and analyzing the data to improve policy and its implementation. The Incheon Strategy to “Make the Right Real” for Persons with Disabilities in Asia and the Pacific guides the Decade for that purpose, comprising 10 interrelated development goals, 27 aligned targets and 62 corresponding indicators.4
The United Nations Building
Rajadamnern Nok Avenue
Bangkok 10200, Thailand
Telephone: +66 2288 1234
Email: [email protected]
China Disabled Persons’ Federation (CDPF)
Telephone: +86 (010) 66580228