Recover Better, Build Back Accessible, Secretary-General Tells Convention States Parties, Stressing ‘Persons with Disabilities Must No Longer Be Left Behind’

Following is the text of UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ video message to the fourteenth session of the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, held today:

It is a pleasure to greet the States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  When the Convention was adopted more than 10 years ago, Member States, civil society and the United Nations system committed to the achievement of a world in which persons with disabilities have the opportunity to live their lives on an equal basis with all others, as active members of society.  This must remain our priority today.  Persons with disabilities must no longer be left behind.

Over the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected women, men, boys and girls with disabilities at a vastly disproportionate rate.  At the same time, we have seen that the world has much to learn from persons with disabilities, who have experience thriving in situations of isolation and with alternate working arrangements.

As we strive to recover better, we must also build back accessible.  Investments should create new opportunities for persons with disabilities, not new barriers.  As communities reopen, we must support persons with disabilities in returning to school and re-entering the workforce.

Yet, the inclusion of persons with disabilities is still hindered by discrimination and exclusion, which they experience throughout their lives.  This is particularly true for girls and women with disabilities.

And many persons with disabilities are among those being left behind by inequities in vaccine distribution, further widening existing inequalities in health and other areas of well-being.  We must do more and we must do better.

The United Nations Disability Inclusion Strategy, launched two years ago, is a robust framework for decisive action across the system to include persons with disabilities in our programmes and operations, and in plans for COVID-19 response and recovery.

We are making progress, but we still have a long way to go — and I wish to reiterate my strong commitment to the implementation of the Strategy.  As we move forward, it will be essential to consult and collaborate with persons with disabilities and their representative organizations as equal partners.

Let us all work together to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, implement the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, build an inclusive future for all and keep our promise to leave no one behind.

For information media. Not an official record.