People’s Advocate Event on the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities

11 Apr 2013

Zineb Touimi-Benjelloun, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative

Dear Mr Totozani,

Dear Mr. Tafaj,

Dear participants,

It is a pleasure to be here today to discuss important issues related to the implementation of the new Convention on Rights of People with Disabilities. The presence here today of so many partners demonstrates the importance that this issue deserves. The organization of this national conference confirms the commitment of the People’s Advocate institution to be an effective bridge between rights holders and duty bearers and nourish partnerships with civil society organizations, including organizations of people with disabilities. 

Currently, over one billion people, or approximately 15 per cent of the world’s population, live with some form of disability. The last Census in Albania informs that persons with disabilities constitute 6.2% of the population; this is a significant number of people and their families who are entitled to see that barriers they face are removed.

I take this opportunity to congratulate the Albanian Parliament and the relevant stakeholders for the recent ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. This action demonstrates the willingness and the engagement of the country to align with international standards and to protect human rights. At the same time, the ratification requires that all concerned parties take concrete actions for the implementation of the Convention’s principles and provisions.  Concrete actions would entail removal of barriers –in both the public and the private spheres - for the protection and the promotion of the rights of persons with disabilities. We look forward to the consolidation of the national machinery which will monitor the implementation of such measures, now that the Convention has been ratified.  

 Ladies and Gentlemen,

United Nations Organizations in Albania have been actively supporting the agenda for the rights of persons with disabilities. UNDP has provided technical assistance for the review of the existing national legal framework for compliance with the CRPD; and the Action Plan for its implementation has already been developed by the Ministry of Labor Social Assistance and Equal Opportunities, with our support. We have also supported stakeholders’ capacities to take on the Convention’s implementation. We are confident that the political will and the resources necessary for its full-fledged implementation and monitoring will also be forthcoming.  

Other initiatives supported by the UN system include the piloting by UNICEF of foster care programs that include children with disabilities. UNFPA  has accompanied state social services in their efforts to meet the rights of persons with disabilities by working with them to develop local and regional strategic manuals. Finally, WHO finalized the translation and publication of the “International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health” which is a tool that will provide a common and universal language for clinical, public health, and research applications to facilitate the documentation and measurement of health and disability in the population.

Our experience here and elsewhere has taught us that to progress effectively in the disability area it is important to involve persons with disabilities in the decision-making process and create accountability mechanisms for monitoring. At the same time it is important to increase awareness and understanding of disability so as to promote positive attitudes and ensure the inclusion of the most marginalized groups of persons with disabilities.

Before concluding, I want to assure you that the United Nations system will continue to support Albania in the implementation of the CRPD.   I wish you all success in today’s deliberations as well as your joint work in protecting people with disabilities from any human rights violations.

Thank You