No More Exclusion: UN Rapporteur on Disability


Ha Noi 9 September 2002 - More collective efforts are needed to improve the lives of people with disabilities through their rehabilitation, education, employment and integration into economic and social life.

This is the key message of Mr. Bengt Lindqvist, the visiting UN Special Rapporteur on Disability - a former Minister in the Swedish Government, who is himself blind. Mr. Bengt Lindqvist began today his 4 day visit to Viet Nam to promote the implementation of the UN Standard Rules on Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities.

5 million people with disabilities, who make up 7% of the Viet Nam's population face a daily battle for their basic rights. Among those of working age, most lack practical skills and only 30% can earn an income, according to the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA).

Mr Lindqvist says that the UN Standard Rules on Equalization of Opportunities, adopted in December 1993, establish clear guidance to governments on how best to end discrimination and integrate disabled people into mainstream employment, education and leisure activities. Many governments surveyed by his Office indicate that the Rules have led to rethinking of disability policies.
"It's encouraging to see that in Viet Nam, law-makers are beginning to accept that disability is first and foremost an issue of human rights," says UN Resident Coordinator Jordan Ryan. He added: "These basic rights include the right of a disabled child to attend school, the right of a disabled mother to enjoy quality health care, the right of a disabled person to get vocational training or a job, or the right of all persons with disabilities to move freely on the streets and have access to buildings."

The United Nations is actively working to ensure that persons with disabilities can exercise their civil, political, social and cultural rights on an equal basis with non-disabled persons.

A recent MOLISA's workshop recommended the need to help the disabled become economically self-sufficient – not just through work programmes, but by changing public perceptions that often prevent them from fully integrating into society.

The National Coordinating Council on Disability of Viet Nam (NCCD) has discussed a plan to establish an association of PWDs' enterprises. This association will provide opportunities for its members to discuss their issues and concerns regarding employment, business and services.
During his visit to Viet Nam, the UN Special Rapporteur will attend a Seminar organized by MOLISA on Standard Rules on Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities. He will also meet with representatives of Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Education and Training, and the Office of the National Co-ordinating Council on Disability as well as UN agencies, donors and civil societies.

Mr. Lindqvist will be joined in Ha Noi by a delegation of representatives from two Swedish Associations working on disability issues. They are the Swedish Association of Visually Impaired Halland and Swedish Organisation of Disabled Persons International Aid.

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