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Speech by UN Resident Coordinator, Ms. Pratibha Mehta at the launch of the UN Partnership Project to Promote the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

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Date:       7 October 2013
Event:     Launch of the UN Partnership Project to Promote the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
Venue:   Movenpick Hotel, 83 Ly Thuong Kiet St., Hanoi

Honorable Nguyen Trong Dam, Vice Minister Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs,
Distinguished guests from the international community and from NGOs,
Colleagues and friends,
Ladies and gentlemen,

I am very pleased to welcome you all to the launch of this joint UN project for the promotion of the rights of the people living with disabilities. Since arriving here in Viet Nam, I have had many opportunities to hear and discuss issues of people living with disabilities. I am struck that nearly 15 per cent of the population in Viet Nam live with some form of disability – that’s an estimation of more than 13 million people.  

Globally, the number adds up to more than 1 billion out of a 7 billion world population who live with some form of disability. Often, people with disability are much less likely to be educated than those without disability, few are in formal employment or have stable work and regular incomes; few are able to participate in sports or engage in other recreational activities. People living with disability, especially children, with disabilities are isolated from society. Women and girls with disabilities often experience double discrimination.

In 2000, when the Millennium Development Goals were adopted by the UN member States, the special needs of the disabled population were not fully considered. There is now serious recognition that without taking into account the needs of one billion of the population, we cannot create an equal and just world for all.
Two weeks ago, a high level meeting to discuss a post- 2015 disability inclusive development agenda was organized in New York. It was held in conjunction with the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly. As he opened the meeting, the Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon said “Together, we are here to break barriers and open doors. We are here to forge the way forward and build a disability-inclusive development agenda towards 2015 and beyond.”

As many of you are already aware, on the sidelines of that event, Phuong Anh, who is here with us today, was able to advocate for the rights of children with disability on a global stage.

In 2006, the United Nations adopted an innovative piece of legislation, the Convention of the Rights of People Living with Disabilities (CRPD). So far, 130 countries have ratified the CRPD. Viet Nam was one of the first signatories of the CRPD, and although there is still work to be done, we believe that the time is now right to ratify.
At the beginning of this year, the UN consulted different groups in Viet Nam including people living with disabilities on their aspirations for post 2015 world. Let me quote one of them: Vu Xuan Trong, living with visual disability in Lam Dong who said:  “We would like to have an equal chance to study and work so that we can lead an equal life compared to other people”.

Viet Nam has taken a number of steps to address issues of persons living with disabilities and by ratifying the Convention it will give a signal of their continued efforts in line with international commitment.

In 2011, the United Nations launched a Multi-Donor Trust Fund with the goal to develop the capacities of national stakeholders, particularly governments and organizations of persons with disabilities, for the effective implementation of the Convention. I am very pleased to mention that Viet Nam is one of the beneficiaries of the Multi-donor Trust Fund that has made this project we are launching today possible. The project is a joint initiative in the spirit of delivering as one with 3 UN Agencies UNICEF, ILO and UNDP and we look forward to working together with our partners: MOLISA; the Vietnam Federation for Disability; ACDC; and DRD to empower people with disabilities, to be actively engaged in the ratification, the implementation and the monitoring of the Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities.

We hope that through our modest contribution, this project will help strengthen networks and capacities of people with disabilities will be empowered to enjoy their rights.

I wish you all good health and happiness,
Thank you. Xin Cảm Ơn.