We welcome the reports of the Secretary General on Poverty Eradication (E/CN.5/2012/3), Monitoring of the implementation of the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities (E/CN.5/2012/7) and Mainstreaming Disability in the development agenda (E/CN.5/2012/6)
The reports are closely interlinked. The report on Poverty eradication states that:”inequalities between men and women, younger and older persons, and marginalization of indigenous people and persons with disabilities are not only an ethical challenge but also pose a barrier to achievement of internationally development goals, including eradication of poverty and hunger”. Thus we must adopt a broad, integrated approach to meet all challenges connected with poverty eradication and a sustainable development. A universal social protection floor is vital, and access to education and employment for persons with disabilities is fundamental in order to make it possible for all of us to live an independent life and participate in society on an equal basis.
The Norwegian policy on disability is fully concurrent with the principles of the CRPD. Norway aims at ratifying the CRPD and the Government will submit a proposition to the Parliament in near future.
On the 1st of January 2009 a new Anti-Discrimination and Accessibility act entered into force in Norway. The Act prohibits discrimination on grounds of disability. The purpose of the Act is to promote equality and ensure equal opportunities for all persons and to prevent discrimination on the grounds of disability. It applies in all areas of society, i.e. in the employment market, housing, goods and services.
To include persons with disabilities in the employment market is of vital importance. Since we have compulsory education for all up to 10th grade and an additional right for all youngsters, girls and boys alike, for high school, there is a huge challenge in the transition between school and employment for youngsters with disabilities. To meet this challenge, the Government recently launched a job strategy for people with disabilities under the age of 30. The strategy’s aim is to increase the number of people in employment and reduce the number on benefits.
Norway appreciates the report of the Special Rapporteur on Disability (E/CN.5/2012/7), and takes note of his priorities and recommendations. We had the pleasure to cooperate on the organization of the Oslo-seminar; Mainstreaming Disability in Development Cooperation, mentioned in the Special Rapporteurs report. The seminar identified important barriers to the inclusion of persons with disabilities in development and suggested several solutions to the challenges.
The MDGs have proved to be important tools in the fight to improve health and reduce poverty. In 2010 the Secretary General launched a global strategy for women and children to strengthen efforts towards Millennium Development Goals (MDG) 4, 5 and 6. It is important to remember that persons with disabilities also have (a) gender. Activities targeting women and girls, must also include women and girls with disabilities.
A broad coalition of states and organizations support the strategy which also constitutes the foundation in Norwegian policy concerning women’s and children’s health. Special attention shall be given to the most vulnerable, and persons with disabilities will be included.
Education is a prioritized area in development policy. The Norwegian contribution is mainly allocated to primary education for girls and children in conflict and post conflict, or humanitarian crises. Norway will emphasize the right of persons with disabilities to education in such situations. Knowing that 1/3 of children out of school are children with disabilities, these efforts will continue on a broader scale.
UNICEF is a key institution for Norwegian support to education and, MDG 2 and 3. Through our close cooperation with UNICEF there is scope for increased equity approach, meaning that the principle of non-discrimination also covers children with disability even if it entails additional investments. We note with satisfaction that UNICEF has strengthened its staff and capacity regarding children with disabilities, and has included children with disabilities in its “child friendly schools” concept.
In our development cooperation both with Nepal and the Palestinian Authority inclusion of children with disabilities is part of the sector program, both in the physical environment, textbooks and in the dialogue with government.
Mr. Chair, Inclusion of disability rights in development sector programming is in many ways a precondition for sustainable results. Support to victims and establishment of Conventions against cluster munitions and landmines are milestones. Chair, all persons with disabilities must have the same rights to take part in the development of their society.