International Day of Persons with Disabilities
Each year 3rd December is marked as International Day of Persons with Disabilities. This year the theme is “Dignity and justice for all of us”, reflecting two important milestones in 2008: first, the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and second, the coming into force in April 2008 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the first human rights treaty of the twenty first century.
Since inception, the United Nations has recognized the inherent dignity and equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family. However, while the rights of people with disabilities were addressed by the Universal Declaration, these have not always been upheld and respected. Worldwide, people with disabilities are vulnerable to poverty, ill-health and marginalization. The advent of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is an opportunity to ensure that States take all necessary actions to ensure that people with disabilities are included in all areas of life, from the family to the workplace to the community. The Convention reaffirms that persons with disabilities have the right to full and equal enjoyment of their human rights.
This International Day is an opportunity to mobilize support and increase understanding of the human rights of persons with disabilities. WHO is working to promote dignity and justice for people with disabilities in many ways, but in particular through the forthcoming World report on disability and rehabilitation and the Task Force on Disability. The World Report is being developed in association with the World Bank and many other partners, and will identify the concrete steps that States need to take to ensure the health and well-being of people with disabilities as mandated by the Convention. The Task Force on Disability was set up by the WHO Director-General in April 2008 to ensure that the Organization will become more accessible to employees, collaborators and visitors with disabilities, and has already made significant progress in removing barriers to participation. These initiatives contribute to the reaffirmation of the principles of ‘dignity and justice for all of us’.