Photo: NorwayUN/Marte Fløan Beisvåg.Photo: NorwayUN/Marte Fløan Beisvåg

GA: High-level Meeting on Disability and Development

Last updated: 9/30/2013 // This statement was held by Minister of International Development Heikki Holmås at the High-level Meeting of the General Assembly on the Realization of the Millennium Development Goals and Other Internationally Agreed Development Goals for Persons with Disabilities, Roundtable 1: International and regional cooperation and new partnerships for disability inclusive development.

While striving to "leave no-one behind" after 2015, in today's world, persons with disabilities - about a billion people - are too often left behind.

This is a weakness in the existing Millennium Development Goals.

The General Assembly President said this morning that the onus is on all member states to ensure that persons with disabilities are integrated into the new post 2015 framework. I fully agree. The Secretary General reminded us earlier today that excluding the disabled from labor markets can lead to a loss of 7% of GDP, according to the ILO. Behind the statistics there is the fate of a human being; A mother, a child or a husband or father. It is hard to grasp.

This is a human rights challenge. We will never reach our development targets without the adoption of clear goals for the full inclusion of vulnerable and excluded groups, not least persons with disabilities. Norway will work to ensure that the organizations representing them are included in negotiations and decision-making to the greatest possible extent. Norway is seeking the establishment of monitoring and accountability mechanisms with the participation of civil society, parliaments, the private sector, and other stakeholders.

The Secretary-General has called for universal goals that are measurable and adaptable to both global and local settings. If we are to monitor the inclusion of persons with disabilities in the post-2015 agenda, we need to improve and disaggregate disability data, statistics and monitoring. Norway is therefore supporting the World Health Organization and the World Bank developing a Model Disability Survey. There is also a need for other initiatives that can help to improve data quality. Norway encourages all member states to support the UN Partnership to Promote the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Multi-Donor Trust Fund (UNPRPD MDTF). We support the work of the UNPRPD to coordinate the efforts of various UN bodies to assist countries in implementing the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. On the national level, Norway ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), in June. My country is now obliged to eliminate discrimination and build an inclusive society, at home and abroad.

Specifically, we are funding disabled persons’ organizations alongside other human rights defenders; working to improve their access to education and health services, not least women; and working to include this group also in our humanitarian assistance.

Ladies and gentlemen: I am proud to be sitting next to Mr. Lars Ødegård, the first Member of Parliament in Norway using a wheelchair; the rostrum in Parliament was not accessible to him at the time. Now it is fixed. And when I became a minister in Norway last year, my own office was inaccessible to wheelchair users. Now it is fixed.

We still have much important work to do. We will do it together - to provide equal opportunities for all.

Thank you.

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