Thank you, Mr. Chair.
The United States welcomes this discussion on the important role that international cooperation can play in support of national efforts to effectively implement the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Although the legal obligation to achieve the objectives of the Convention is a responsibility of each of the States Parties, international cooperation provides an important vehicle through which all countries can contribute to, and benefit from, promising practices and proven methodologies that enhance the protection and enjoyment of the rights contained in the Convention.
The United States is working actively to ensure that inclusion of persons with disabilities is a central element of our policies and practices. The Special Advisor for International Disability Rights at the State Department, and the Coordinator of Disability and Inclusive Development at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) have been working collaboratively to mainstream disability perspectives throughout our international programs and policies.
At the State Department, Secretary Clinton has asked our embassies to designate points of contact on disability issues charged with enhancing our ability to facilitate international cooperation in the field. We are working to ensure that standard indicators used to track the participation of marginalized groups in funded program activities include disabled people. The Department continues to expand the participation of persons with disabilities in international leadership and cultural exchange programs, facilitating the sharing of experiences across cultural contexts. The Department also continues to draw upon the expertise and experience of other federal agencies and the U.S. disability movement, in sharing lessons learned with counterparts in other countries. The Departments of Health and Human Services, Education, Justice, and Labor are some of the federal agencies engaged in international programming that addresses persons with disabilities. In all of these activities the role of civil society is key. We continue to reach out to the International Disability Alliance and others in ensuring that persons with disabilities are at the table during discussions such as the Secretary’s Civil Society Strategic Dialogue. We are also working with other civil society actors, such as InterAction, in reaching out to the wider community to be disability inclusive across the full range of development and diplomacy issues.
USAID remains committed to the inclusion of persons with disabilities in the design and implementation of its programming. USAID’s policy on disability seeks to avoid discrimination against people with disabilities in programs which USAID funds, and to stimulate an engagement of host country counterparts, governments, implementing organizations and other donors in promoting equal opportunity for people with disabilities. USAID has adopted accessibility standards for any new or renovated construction project that it funds, in order to ensure access by persons with disabilities.
USAID also supports the development and implementation of training for staff and its partners overseas. USAID-led disability initiatives are active in over 50 countries worldwide, and the agency is a leader in efforts to institutionalize inclusion in donor, foundation, and USG-partner organizations.
The United States remains committed to the full enjoyment of human rights by all persons with disabilities, and will continue to support effective implementation of the Convention through international cooperation activities. We appreciate the opportunity to learn from the shared experiences of colleagues from other countries.
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