This year’s celebration adopts the theme “Building Back Better: toward a disability-inclusive, accessible and sustainable post COVID-19 World”.
UN observance of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities
Disability inclusion is an essential condition to upholding human rights, sustainable development, and peace and security. It is also central to the promise of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to leave no one behind. The commitment to realizing the rights of persons with disabilities is not only a matter of justice; it is an investment in a common future.
The global crisis of COVID-19 is deepening pre-existing inequalities, exposing the extent of exclusion and highlighting that work on disability inclusion is imperative. People with disabilities—one billion people— are one of the most excluded groups in our society and are among the hardest hit in this crisis in terms of fatalities.
Even under normal circumstances, persons with disabilities are less likely to access health care, education, employment and to participate in the community. An integrated approach is required to ensure that persons with disabilities are not left behind.
Disability inclusion will result in a COVID19 response and recovery that better serves everyone, more fully suppressing the virus, as well as building back better. It will provide for more agile systems capable of responding to complex situations, reaching the furthest behind first.
The annual observance of the International Day of Disabled Persons was proclaimed in 1992 by United Nations General Assembly resolution 47/3. It aims to promote the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities in all spheres of society and development, and to increase awareness of the situation of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life.
Building on many decades of UN’s work in the field of disability, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, adopted in 2006, has further advanced the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and other international development frameworks, such as the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the Charter on Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action, the New Urban Agenda, and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on Financing for Development.
The United Nations Disability Inclusion Strategy
When launching the United Nations Disability Inclusion Strategy in June 2019, the Secretary-General stated that the United Nations should lead by example and raise the Organization’s standards and performance on disability inclusion—across all pillars of work, from headquarters to the field.
The United Nations Disability Inclusion Strategy provides the foundation for sustainable and transformative progress on disability inclusion through all pillars of the work of the United Nations. Through the Strategy, the United Nations system reaffirms that the full and complete realization of the human rights of all persons with disabilities is an inalienable, integral and indivisible part of all human rights and fundamental freedoms.
In recognition of this commitment, the Secretary-General submitted in October 2020, the first comprehensive report on steps taken by the United Nations system to mainstream disability inclusion and implement the Strategy since its launch.
- United Nations Disability Inclusion Strategy (2019)
- Secretary-General’s report on the implementation of the UN Disability Inclusion Strategy
- A Disability-Inclusive Response to COVID-19
- Policy Brief: A Disability-Inclusive Response to COVID-19
- “UN Flagship Report on Disability and Development | 2018 – Realizing the SDGs by, for and with persons with disabilities”
- Accessibility and the status of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Optional Protocol thereto (A/74/146)
- Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006)
- Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities (1993)
- Principles for the protection of persons with mental illness and the improvement of mental health care (1991)
- World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons (1982)
- Declaration on the Rights of Disabled Persons (1975)
- Declaration on the Rights of Mentally Retarded Persons (1971)