Agenda Item 10
- Follow-up to and implementation of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action.
This is a joint statement by IUS PRIMI VIRI and Geneva International Centre for Justice. We would like to focus on Article 22 of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, which refers to non-discrimination, and the equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by disabled persons.
Stephen Hawking’s life reveals what can happen when a disabled person receives all the supports they need to live their life to the fullest.
Initiatives and legislative measures in the right direction have been recently adopted, such as the declaration of 2018 as the year for persons with disabilities in Egypt and the passage of the New Act on persons with disabilities in India. However, persons with disabilities continue to be disproportionately affected by conflict and humanitarian emergencies in Iraq. Additionally, more than one-third of Palestinians with a disability have never been to school, while 87 percent of them are unemployed. What is more, many do not use public transport as it is not adapted sufficiently.
Coming back to Stephen Hawking’s inspirational example, writing for the World Health Organization in 2011, the legendary theoretical physicist argued –and I quote- “We have a moral duty to remove the barriers to participation, and to invest sufficient funding and expertise to unlock the vast potential of people with disabilities.” It must be underlined that he did not speak about cures for disabilities, but removal of barriers to full participation in public life for people who have them.