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Speech by Youssouf Abdel Jelil, UNICEF Representative at workshop on the Ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities organized by MOLISA for the National Assembly in Viet Nam

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Speaker: Mr. Youssouf Abdel Jelil, UNICEF Representative
Event: Workshop on the Ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities organized by MOLISA for the National Assembly in Viet Nam
Date: Wednesday, September 24th, 2014

Mr Tran Van Hang, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Assembly in Viet Nam,
Mr Nguyen Trong Dam, Vice Minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs
Mr Ngo Duc Manh, Vice-Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Assembly,
Representatives of the National Assembly of Republic of Viet Nam, MOLISA, and Government line sectors, representatives of Organizations of Persons with Disabilities and Parliment members from selected provinces
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,    

It is an honor and pleasure for me to be here today to participate in the 'Workshop on the Ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. UNICEF, indeed all UN agencies, highly values the efforts of all partners to prepare the country for the ratification of the Convention since ratification shows strong commitment toward compliance of the Convention.

In 2013, UNICEF, together with the UN family, had the privilege of launching UNICEF’s annual global flagship report here in Viet Nam, dedicated to the situation of children living with disabilities. It examined the barriers – from inaccessible buildings to dismissive attitudes, from invisibility in official statistics to discrimination – that deprive children with disabilities of their rights, and keep them from participating fully in society.

Globally, over 1 billion people, or 15 per cent of the world’s population live with some form of disability . That means that around 93 million children, aged 14 or younger, live with moderate or severe disability.  They experience disproportionately high rates of poverty and exclusion, lack of equitable access to services, including education, employment, health care and legal support.  

There are several landmark UN human rights treaties that protect the rights of women, children, and other vulnerable groups. But the rights of the people with disabilities were only addressed when the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities came into force on May 3rd 2008. This legally binding treaty marked the end of an ‘invisible’ period for those living with disabilities.

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities represents a major shift in the way people living with disabilities are viewed; as the key decision-maker in their own lives. People with disabilities are “rights holders” and “subjects of law” with the right to full participation in the policies that affect them.

To date, there are 127 ratifications of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and 76 ratifications and accessions to the Optional Protocol.   

At the end of 2013, the UN General Assembly and Heads of State met to discuss how to ensure “a disability inclusive development agenda towards 2015 and beyond”. This landmark event helped put the global spotlight on the situation of people living with disabilities, and carve out a way forward for a more disability-inclusive development agenda. It also reaffirmed the role of people with disabilities as both agents and beneficiaries; it called for equality and empowerment as well as the progressive removal of barriers to make lives easier and more fulfilling. It paved the road for all Governments to identify the type of strategies that will be needed to ensure inclusive development for people with disabilities in their countries.

In order to achieve that, full ratification of the Convention is a key milestone. National partners in Viet Nam have made excellent progress in preparing the foundations for the Ratification of the Convention and I look forward to hearing the experience so far, as well as the challenges that you might have faced in the preparation process. The adoption of the Law on Persons with Disabilities in 2010, and the development of National Project to support persons with disabilities period 2012-2020 mark major milestones along the way. Yet, the ratification of the Convention, is the one missing piece that will consolidate and confirm the political will and commitment of the Government to fully implement the rights of people with disabilities in Viet Nam.

I hope that your discussions today will be stimulating and that we will all emerge with renewed energy and commitment to overcome all the remaining barriers for the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the Viet Nam. UNICEF, remains fully committed to support your great efforts to ratify and implement the Convention in order to transform the quality of life of millions of people living with disabilities in Viet Nam.   

I wish you a fruitful meeting!