Asia-Pacific countries review regional progress in promoting disability-inclusive development

Photo Credit: UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe
Photo Credit: UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

Government representatives of 37 Asia-Pacific countries began a five-day meeting here today to review regional progress over the past decade in removing the multitude of physical, social and economic barriers faced by persons with disabilities and make development more inclusive.

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” is being 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.

The largest intergovernmental regional forum on disability in Asia and the Pacific is being attended by government ministers, senior officials and civil society leaders from across the region to review milestones and discuss forward-looking policies for building more disability-inclusive societies.

“Our governments have proclaimed the new Asian and Pacific Decade of Persons with Disabilities, from next year to 2022. Member States and civil society stakeholders engaged in an inclusive consultation process that drew lessons from two Decades to yield the draft outcome document for this meeting, the draft ministerial declaration on the Asian and Pacific Decade of Persons with Disabilities, 2013-2022, and the Incheon strategy to “make the right real” for persons with disabilities in Asia and the Pacific,” said Mr. Shun-ichi Murata, Deputy Executive Secretary of UN ESCAP at the opening of the Senior Officials Segment.

He further stated that “The value of this outcome document lies in its emphasis on generating evidence and measuring progress to support governments in designing and implementing policies and programmes that respect, protect and fulfil the rights of persons with diverse disabilities. The Incheon Strategy will give the world its first set of disability-inclusive development goals.”

The 29-31 October Senior Officials segment of the meeting will prepare the groundwork for the high-level segment starting on 1 November during which Asia-Pacific Governments will launch the “Asian and Pacific Decade of Persons with Disabilities, 2013-2022”.

The third in the series of Asian and Pacific Decades on issues faced by persons with disabilities, it aims to speed up progress towards realizing the rights of the estimated 650 million persons with disabilities in the region.

The majority of persons with disabilities in the region are disproportionately poorer, disadvantaged and often discriminated against. 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 of persons with disabilities to the physical environment, education and livelihood opportunities, promoting their participation in decision-making processes and gender equality for women and girls with disabilities, making disaster risk reduction disability-inclusive, and accelerating ratification and implementation by countries of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

A landmark outcome expected from the meeting will be the adoption by ESCAP Member States of the “Incheon Strategy” to guide disability policies over the next 10 years in the implementation of the Asian and Pacific Decade of Persons with Disabilities, 2013-2022.