Side Event on “Participation of Persons with Disabilities in the UN System and Broader Global Governance Processes” United Nations 8th Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities

New York, USA

The Nippon Foundation is a nonprofit organization that has been promoting the social inclusion of persons with disabilities. Our initiatives include nurturing young leaders through scholarships and supporting disability groups both within Japan and around the world.

A major turning point for our disability work happened on March 11, 2011, when a mega-quake and tsunami hit Japan. Post-disaster research indicated that mortality rate of persons with disabilities was two to four times higher than that of the general population. It was clear that a major cause of this was the lack of disability inclusion in the planning and implementation of disaster risk reduction at the local, national and international level.

Thus, from 2012 we have been holding a series of international conferences on “Disability and Disaster Risk Reduction” with various groups to appeal to governments and international organizations around the world on the importance of incorporating disability-inclusive perspectives into disaster risk reduction and management.

Based on these experiences, we were able to collaborate with the government of Japan, United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) and disability groups at the 3rd World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (WCDRR) in Sendai, Japan, to offer full access and participation to all aspects of the proceedings to persons with disabilities. As a result, fruitful discussions on inclusive DRR took place and a new framework which denoted the critical role for persons with disabilities in disaster risk reduction and management was adopted.

I feel that this 3rd WCDRR achieved so much, because of the tremendous leadership and dedication from stakeholders. However, despite all of this, the existing participatory framework recognized by the UN as the Major Groups, proved to be an obstacle in our early attempts to get persons with disabilities into the official proceedings.

Persons with disabilities make up 15% of the world population. As long as this group continues to be excluded from important global talks such as poverty and health, I am convinced that we will never be able to find sustainable solutions.

That is why I believe next year will be such a critical year for the advancement of disability inclusion. In order to ensure that disability issues in the Post-2015 Development Agenda are put into practice, persons with disabilities MUST be included in the implementation process.

To all UN Agencies and members states, let us work together to apply the accessible and inclusive model demonstrated in the 3rd WCDRR to all UN meetings and their decision making processes. And let us work to make disability and inclusive development cross-cutting themes in your programmes and policies.

And to all civil society organizations who work in the disability sector, let us continue to work together and coordinate to raise the presence of disability in major UN conferences and ultimately the entire UN system.

Thank you.