Vienna, 2 December 2009 – “Enabling equal and universal access to all human rights – this is the obligation all of us have towards disabled persons both in Austria and throughout the world,” stated Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger to mark the International Day of Disabled Persons on 3 December.
The Foreign Minister pointed out how important it was to take measures in fields such as foreign and development policy to promote the realisation of these goals at the global level: “There are more than 650 million disabled people worldwide, with more than 80% of them living in developing countries. They are frequently deprived of basic human rights purely because they are disabled. Within the framework of our development cooperation programmes we are therefore committed to the promotion of disabled persons. Within the Austrian Development Agency (ADA) an appointee in charge of disabled persons has made sure since the beginning of this year that our development policy goals are consistently implemented in this area”.
More than seventy-two states have already ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. According to Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger the decision taken a few days ago by the EU to join the Convention will further strengthen international commitment to people with disabilities. “This will be an obligation for the EU as a whole to ensure that people with disabilities obtain universal access to European law and to adjust its development cooperation programmes to the needs of people with disabilities to an even greater extent,” Spindelegger continued.
Another special Austrian concern was to address the issue of people with disabilities in UN Security Resolution 1894 for the protection of the civilian population in armed conflicts, which was initiated by Austria: “Thanks to this Austrian initiative the UN Security Council for the first time dealt with the special security needs of people with disabilities in crisis areas,” stated Spindelegger. The integration of disabled people in the UN Millennium Development Goals through a UN resolution adopted in October was a further important step on the way to an ‘inclusive’ society.
Finally, the Foreign Minister expressed his thanks and respect to all representatives of civil society who are committed to working with disabled people in Austria and throughout the world: “National and international protection mechanisms offer an effective framework for the participation of disabled people on an equal and self-determined basis. These mechanisms must be vigorously implemented”.
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