Vienna, 17 July 2013 – On the sidelines of the Conference on the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities that is currently held in New York, Austria organised a panel discussion at the UN headquarters on the economic empowerment of people with disabilities. "People with disabilities are still subject to various forms of discrimination and social stigma. We attach great importance to barrier-free access to the labour market for people with disabilities. This is an essential prerequisite for persons with disabilities if they are to lead self-determined lives and achieve maximum independence", Austrian Vice-Chancellor and Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger said.
The panel discussion with representatives from the UN, civil society and member states was hosted together with the High Commission for Human Rights, Finland, Thailand and New Zealand – similar to the discussion in Geneva in March. It was the aim of the discussion to share experience and best practices of implementing the Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The event was supported by the Austrian Essl Foundation and the World Future Council that presented the "Zero Project" which examines the implementation of the UN Convention and establishes a platform for exchange of measures and experience where stakeholders can discuss the best and most efficient ways to act on the rights of people with disabilities. "We are pleased to have the Essl Foundation and the Zero Project onboard for this event. It is a matter of great concern for Austria to support the rights and interests of persons with disabilities and also to do so on an international level and at the UN in order to give these people a voice", Spindelegger said, commenting on the event. The International Disability Alliance, the umbrella organisation of representatives of people with disabilities, was also involved in the panel discussion.
The participants discussed the inclusion of persons with disabilities in the post-2015 development agenda. The question of how to achieve the millennium development goals for people with disabilities will also be on the agenda of a high-level event in New York in September; Austria has provided important input to the negotiations on the drafting of the final document from this conference.
Austria has a tradition of advocating inclusive human rights in the field of international development cooperation. The implementation of the UN Convention plays a decisive role in this effort, which has also been laid down in the 2013 - 2015 three-year programme.
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