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Speech by UN Resident Coordinator a.i., Mr. Youssouf Abdel-Jelil Celebration of International Day of Persons with Disabilities

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Date: 1 December 2016

Venue: Au Co Theatre, 8 Huynh Thuc Khang, Ha Noi

  • Excellency Vice Minister, Vice-chairman of the National Committee on Persons with Disabilities of Viet Nam Nguyen Trong Dam,
  • Mr. Cao Van Thanh, President of the Association of the Blind in Viet Nam,
  • Representative of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism,
  • Representatives of International Organizations, INGOs, NGOs, and Organisations of Disabled People
  • Representatives from the media,
  • UN colleagues,
  • Children and adults with disabilities,
  • Ladies and gentlemen,

As many of you know, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities is a United Nations-sanctioned day that celebrates progress across the world in breaking down barriers, opening doors, and realizing a more inclusive society for all.

This year it is even more notable as it also coincides with the 10-year anniversary of the establishment of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, one of the most quickly ratified international treaties put forth by the United Nations.

So, as we gather here today, it is time to reflect on the tangible progress Viet Nam, as a signatory to this Convention, has made in improving the lives of the estimated one-in-seven adults and children who live with some form of disability.

One year has passed since world leaders at the United Nations endorsed the new global development agenda to help “Transform our World”. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with 17 Sustainable Development Goals is a commitment to eliminate poverty, exclusion and violence. To achieve the SDGs in Viet Nam, the specific needs of people with disabilities must be considered in each and every goal.

To achieve this, Viet Nam must follow through on its commitments under the Convention.  So, it is greatly encouraging that concrete steps have been taken since its ratification with the launch of the National Committee on Persons with Disabilities and a key decision on its roles and functions. This underlines the National Committee’s strong commitment to improve the lives of people with disabilities.      

This determination is also reflected in the highest levels of Government with Prime Minister’s Decision 1100 in June this year approving the National Plan of Action to implement the Convention. Such progress is ground-breaking for Viet Nam as it is empowering people with disabilities to become decision-makers in their own lives and be able to participate fully in all aspects of social, political, economic and cultural life.

To help shift the perception of persons with disabilities as being ‘dependent objects of charity’ to rights holders it is essential to build their capacity and remove obstacles that hinder inclusion, participation and empowerment. This cannot be achieved without the active involvement and engagement of the persons with disabilities and related organizations in the development, implementation and monitoring of the Plan.

Looking ahead, the UN stands ready to provide support in a number of areas to remain a committed partner in helping to “make rights real” for persons with disabilities in Viet Nam.  As the National Committee has a critical role to ensure inter-ministerial coordination and implementation of the National Plan of Action, the UN will help enhance the National Committee’s coordination role.

Crucially, we will further build the capacity of Government agencies and Disabled People’s Organizations to improve the monitoring and evaluation surrounding implementation of the Convention. To do this we will strengthen evidence-based knowledge to inform organizations in advocacy for legislative changes on promotion and protection of people with disabilities’ rights, institutionalize organizations’ participation in the Convention monitoring process and ensure the participation of people with disabilities every step of the way.

One important, yet technical, area of work we will focus on is developing data for action. An enhanced national capacity to provide quality data on the lives of people living with disabilities, including children, will deliver evidence to support policy development, especially with regards to sexual and reproductive health and care, prevention of gender-based violence, ending discrimination and promoting social inclusion for people with disabilities.

Stigma and discrimination targeting people with disabilities, especially regarding access to health and education services and vocational training, jobs, income generating activities, remain a fact of life in Viet Nam.

However, the breaking down of barriers is achievable if we work together to truly realize the rights and dignity of people with disabilities. Together, on this special International Day of Persons with Disabilities, let us celebrate this day and commit to a 2017 of action.

I would like to congratulate MOLISA, as the leading body of the National Committee on Persons with Disabilities and the Viet Nam Association for Blind people for organizing such important event. Furthermore, I would like especially to congratulate the young persons with disabilities who are here today to share their great efforts in demonstrating their abilities to contribute to improved access of persons with disabilities to social services. I strongly believe that with such strong commitment and participation of persons with disabilities in general and young persons with disabilities in particular, they will contribute to an inclusive society.

Let me finish by underlining the UN’s continued commitment to work with the Government, CSOs and all other stakeholders for a Viet Nam where everyone has the right to live full, productive and meaningful lives. I wish all participants here today great success in their work and happiness, health and success!

Xin cam on!