FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Today I am proud to join President Obama and all Americans who are commemorating International Day of Persons with Disabilities. One of my greatest honors as U.S. Ambassador has been to sign the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the first human rights convention adopted by the United Nations in the 21st century and an enduring statement of support for equal access, equal opportunity, and equal protection under the law for the world’s 650 million disabled people. As we advance its implementation, let us also live up to its principles and reach ever further to guarantee the full enjoyment of human rights for all people.
Our work is far from complete. For those with disabilities, the diseases that afflict all of us can be more damaging, the threats to our common safety more dangerous, the limits to our human potential more burdensome. A disabled boy is more likely to live in poverty and less likely to attend school than his peers. Disabled women are more likely to be targeted for sexual violence. Nations that are serious about advancing global development and security must devote more attention to addressing these unique challenges to human rights.
The United States is taking strong steps to promote the rights of disabled people at home and abroad. Last year, the State Department appointed Ms. Judith Heumann, an internationally recognized leader in the disability community, to serve as a new Special Advisor to Secretary Clinton for Internationally Disability Rights. This fall, Special Advisor Heumann traveled to North Africa and the Middle East, where she advised host countries on decades of American best practices in education, employment, and educational infrastructure. The U.S. Agency for International Development, backed by a Disability Fund established by Congress in 2005, provides tools to help its field offices promote inclusive access to their development work. At the United Nations, we have made disability rights a central focus in working to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. And at home, we are always striving to honor our obligations to disabled Americans, as laid out 35 years ago in the Individuals with Disabilities Act and 20 years ago in the Americans with Disabilities Act. The full force of measures like these lie at the heart of our continuing efforts to advance opportunity for all disadvantaged people around the world.
On this day, as ever, I remain inspired by our friends and family in the global community of disabled people and committed to the full and effective implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. As we celebrate the progress we’ve made, we must redouble our efforts to ensure that all people have the opportunity to achieve their full potential.
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