International Paralympic Committee and Rehabilitation International host International paralympic symposium on disability rights
17 September 2004 - At the start of the Paralympic Games, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and Rehabilitation International (RI) hosted the International Paralympic Symposium on Disability Rights. The symposium and press conference sought to highlight the human rights of persons with disability and promote the right to inclusion in sport and society. This initiative complements the work towards a United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with a Disability. During the symposium the IPC and RI worked together to inform and educate participants about the progress currently being made on promoting the rights of persons with a disability and the work being done by organizations in this area. Furthermore, there was an exchange of dialogue between governments, UN agencies and NGOs on the possibilities of collaboration in the area of human rights for persons with a disability.
Etienne Krug, Director of WHO's Department of Injuries and Violence Prevention, joined a host of others at the event, including Phil Craven, IPC President; Marietta Giannakou-Koutsikou, Greek Minister of National Education and Religion; Adolf Ogi, UN Special Advisor to the Secretary General on Sport and Development; Jane Olson, Chair of Board of Directors for Human Rights Watch and Landmine Survivor's Network; Shuaib Chalklen, Chair of African Decade of Persons with a Disability; HRH Prince Ra'ad Bin Zeid of Jordan, International Disability Advocate; Cheri Blauwet, Paralympic Athlete; and Tomas Lagerwall, Secretary General of RI.
In his speech to the group, Dr Krug noted "The Paralympics are one of the world's most prominent events where people with disabilities show their tremendous talent and energy. We take this opportunity to admire the skill and determination of these athletes, but at the same time we must reflect upon the fact that globally, too many people with disabilities do not enjoy even the most basic human rights. As a group, persons with disabilities are among the most marginalized of the entire world's people. A paradigm shift is necessary. Persons with disabilities are entitled to lead their lives in dignity. They have the right to participate fully in society and access basic social services, including health and rehabilitation services." In this regard WHO focuses its efforts on the prevention of a number of conditions causing disabilities as well as on the strengthening of community based rehabilitation services, the development of prosthetic devices, improvements in access to services and support to processes to strengthen the rights of people with disabilities.