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United Nations launches new disability strategy

June 2019
A wide view of a large debating chamber at the United Nations. The chamber is filled with people and a video screen shows captioned text.

Sightsavers has welcomed the UN’s first disability inclusion strategy, launched in New York at the annual Conference of States Parties to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The UN Disability Inclusion Strategy (UNDIS) was launched by the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, who promised it would be “not a strategy of words, but a strategy of action.”

The strategy outlines the UN’s commitment to disability-inclusive development, and is accompanied by a clear accountability framework to guide all UN entities and country teams so that the organisation can adequately monitor its progress, and continuously adapt its approach.

Sightsavers’ Head of Multilaterals, Natasha Kennedy, said: “It was incredible to be personally present to hear the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, announce the UN Disability Strategy. The recognition that there is a long way to go to ensure the rights of people with disabilities are upheld, and the UN’s commitment to deliver this, both represent an incredible step forward to deliver an inclusive world.

“The UN’s commitment to work with member states, civil society and other organisations to break down barriers and reduce discrimination towards people with disabilities – in particular women and girls with disabilities – is timely and much-needed. The UN strategy is one of action to deliver change for people with disabilities. We are committed to working with the UN, its member states and people with disabilities to create a world where that protects, respects and values everyone equally.”

The launch of the strategy coincides with the launch of Sightsavers’ global petition which calls for the UN and its member states to uphold disability rights. In 15 key countries, the petition is also calling for country governments to ratify or implement specific disability laws and meet their commitments on disability inclusion made at last year’s Global Disability Summit in London.

Sightsavers Campaign Manager, Tessa Murphy, said: “We’re excited that the UN has launched its disability strategy. If the UN and its member states can ensure the full inclusion and active participation of people with disabilities, it has the potential to impact countless lives around the world. It’s now critical that the strategy is implemented, and we’ll continue to call for the UN and its member states to uphold disability rights with our Equal World petition and campaign.”

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