Excellencies, distinguished delegates,
I am delighted to join you in this important dialogue on the implementation of the Convention.
ESCAP has been actively promoting and leading disability-inclusive development efforts in the region for the past 30 years, as. starting in 1993, member States have proclaimed four consecutive Asian and Pacific Decades of Persons with Disabilities.
The first two Decades focused on shifting away from the medical and charity models of disability towards a rights-based approach, which contributed to the birth of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).
To guide the third Decade, member States adopted the Incheon Strategy to “Make the Right Real” for Persons with Disabilities in Asia and the Pacific.
The Incheon Strategy aimed to support member States in making the rights outlined in the CRPD a reality through the first set of regionally agreed disability-specific development goals.
Goal 9 of the Incheon Strategy calls on member States to accelerate the ratification and implementation of the CRPD and the harmonization of national legislation with the Convention.
Currently, 49 of the 55 ESCAP members and associate members with treaty-making capacity have ratified or acceded to the Convention.
ESCAP’s recent publication on the “Harmonization of national laws with the CRPD” provides an overview of trends in Asia and the Pacific and seeks to support member States in enhancing their harmonization efforts through a set of comprehensive recommendations.
In preparation for the final review of the third Decade, ESCAP conducted a survey to assess the current state of disability-inclusive development.
Some of the most common achievements noted by Governments included the development of disability laws, policies and strategies and improvements in physical accessibility, health, rehabilitation and education.
While the Asia-Pacific region made commendable progress in the third Decade, much more needs to be done.
Across the region, persons with disabilities generally experience higher rates of poverty and unemployment, and children with disabilities are less likely to attend school. Only 1 in 4 persons with disabilities are employed, and 7 in 10 persons with disabilities do not have social protection.
Persons with disabilities are also underrepresented in decision-making processes. The ESCAP survey found that persons with disabilities constitute less than one per cent of the total number of parliamentarians in the region.
Recognizing the need to reaffirm the region’s commitment to disability-inclusive development, member States declared a fourth Decade through the Jakarta Declaration, which was adopted during the High-level Intergovernmental Meeting last October in Jakarta, Indonesia.
The Jakarta Declaration highlights six areas for strategic investments to accelerate action to promote and protect the rights of persons with disabilities. The first priority is on harmonizing national legislation with the CRPD.
The Jakarta Declaration advocates conducting comprehensive reviews of national legislation, providing guidance on the implementation of the Convention and training all personnel involved in law enforcement on the Convention.
It further highlights integrating the provision of reasonable accommodation in national policies, programmes and budgets, and developing and strengthening frameworks to promote, protect and monitor the implementation of the CRPD.
The other five strategic areas highlighted in the Jakarta Declaration are the meaningful participation of persons with disabilities, universal design-based accessibility, engagement of the private sector, gender-responsive life cycle approach to disability inclusion and progress-tracking of disability-inclusive development.
ESCAP is currently developing an operational guide to support member States, in collaboration with the UN system and other stakeholders, in the implementation of the Jakarta Declaration.
I look forward to working closely with all of you during the new disability Decade.
I am confident that under the framework of the Jakarta Declaration, we will continue to advance progress to “make the right real” for persons with disabilities in the Asia-Pacific region.
Thank you very much