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Domestic Violence and Abuse

High-Level Meeting on Disabilities and Development, 23 September 2013


What can be done by the United Nations to
address the problems of persons with disabilities in the post-2015 development agenda? This
was the main question at the high-level meeting at the UN General Assembly on Disability and
Development. I’m expecting hopefully to hear the plans
for the UN for the future for people with disabilities, in particular, how they are
going to look in using universal design and assistive technology to help those people
with disabilities to live more independently. Our differences are that in the US, we’ve
been living with the Americans with Disabilities act for 21 years now, and so with that, we’ve
had a lot of access and inclusion on multiple levels, but there still needs to be a lot
of work done, and I think, for someone who is in a developing country, a lot of those
things that we probably take for granted in this country, curb cuts for instance, on the
sidewalks, don’t exist. I think what I’d have to say is that the post-2015
agenda needs to be fully inclusive of people with disabilities. The meeting took place on 23 of September,
with the participation at the highest level, with many heads of states or governments,
as well as record number of representatives from civil society. After the opening session,
the two round-tables focused on regional cooperation and partnerships for disability-inclusive
development, as well as the disability within the context of the post-2015 development agenda. [speaking Portuguese…] He was born deaf-blind, but it was not so
severe. Now it’s a little bit more. [speaking Portuguese…] When he was fifteen years old, it started
to be more severe. [speaking Portuguese…] But despite of all, I could go to university,
have a degree in special education [speaking Portuguese…] and in Brazil, I have been fighting a lot and
working a lot for deaf-blind people. [speaking Portuguese…] I hope that the meeting can really continue
working on these proposals and that my proposals can really face the same as the United Nations. For me, it’s really important, in addition
to talking about problems around disability, actually for me, the fundamental piece is
to not think about disability as a problem around the world, but look to addressing the
discrimination. I believe that the UN could work toward pushing for, and implementing
a rights-based framework on disability, which CRPD is modeled in, as a civil rights and
social model around disability, and to support legislation, civil rights policy around the
world from the rights-based model. Governments, you know, we need to do more.
I don’t want to say “government”, but governments, we need to do more. We have to remember, always
remember that these people are there, and they are useful, they can be useful, productive
and they ARE productive. I hope that today’s meeting will result in
some sort of consensus with respect to the main priorities, and that this consensus will
be incorporated into the millennium goals for the post-2015 development agenda. I hope
that this will become the reference point for all UN member states in their efforts
for further development of their policies on disability, hopefully in my own country
as well. Participants from the civil society will most
certainly be pleased that the outcome document addressed many of their concerns. The document
underlines the importance of national legislation, as well as policies, such as education, health
care, social protection and universal accessibility. The outcome document also provides for follow-up
action, requesting the Secretary-General to provide periodic reports and recommendations. Following the adoption of the Convention of
Rights for Persons with Disabilities in 2006, the High-Level Meeting provided a significant
boost in efforts to include persons with disabilities in the future we want.

Cesar Sullivan

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