On the Occasion of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities

December 3, 2010

The members, staff, and Board of Directors of the United States International Council on Disabilities (USICD) today join people with disabilities around the world in celebrating the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. This year’s global theme for December 3 is “Keeping the promise: mainstreaming disability in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) towards 2015 and beyond,” highlighting the need to include people with disabilities in MDG activities to alleviate poverty worldwide.  The MDGs are meant to address the needs of the world’s poorest citizens and the world’s most marginalized populations.  The MDGs can only be achieved if policies, programs, monitoring and evaluation include persons with disabilities.  USICD supports the 2010 International Day theme, advocating that the international community mainstream disability issues within MDG activities.

It is estimated that there are 650 million people with disabilities in the world today—and 80% of them live in developing countries.  This includes 150 million children with disabilities, most of who live with the reality of exclusion manifested anew each day.  People with disabilities, particularly women and children, can face multiple layers of discrimination—based on gender, age, race, and socio-economic status in addition to disability—and are frequently invisible to efforts at realizing the Millennium Development Goals.   

Children with disabilities living in developing countries are frequently unable to acquire a formal education: it is estimated that only 2 to 3 percent have the opportunity to go to school[1].  Only when the other 98 percent of children with disabilities in developing countries join their brothers and sisters at school can we realize the goal of enabling all children worldwide to complete a primary school education.

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) offers invaluable guiding principles and legal tools to direct how the MDGs can be made inclusive of all people with disabilities. The CRPD, an international human rights treaty, provides a basic foundation of legal standards for governments and international development actors to promote non-discrimination in a wide range of MDG-related areas, including health, gender equality, education, international cooperation, and the attainment of an adequate standard of living. The CRPD also addresses the importance of disability-inclusive international cooperation to support treaty implementation efforts at the national level.

The CRPD is an essential tool for addressing the needs and concerns of persons with disabilities.  Full implementation of the CRPD will help ensure that persons with disabilities are not forgotten in broader efforts to promote equal rights and equal opportunities for all people.  

To underscore the fundamental rights of full inclusion for all people with disabilities in every thread of the global social, economic, and political fabric, the United States International Council on Disabilities supports United States ratification of the CRPD.  Our ratification will signal an unequivocal commitment to persons with disabilities around the world and highlight the importance of ensuring non-discrimination and equal opportunities for all people.

On behalf of the Council,

Marca Bristo, President

United States International Council on Disabilities


[1] Worldbank: You Think.  Available: http://youthink.worldbank.org/issues/disabilities.   

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