Annual Debate on Rights of Persons with Disabilities
Statement as Delivered by Ambassador Michèle Taylor
Human Rights Council – 52nd Session
Thank you, Mr. Vice President.
Thank you, Deputy High Commissioner Al-Nashif, Special Rapporteur Quinn, and esteemed panelists for your remarks opening this annual debate.
“Nothing about us without us.” This idea was first invoked by the South African disability rights movement, and reminds us that in order to overcome systemic challenges facing persons with disabilities, we must empower them to take control of decisions affecting their lives. It is well past time that we abandon the antiquated and, frankly, offensive notion that persons with disabilities somehow have less to offer, especially when it comes to strategies for promoting and protecting their own rights and quality of life!
Persons with disabilities are disproportionately affected by conflict, natural disasters, and health emergencies such as the COVID-19 pandemic. As we look to build forward better, it is essential that we prioritize the development of support and care systems that ensure community inclusion of persons with disabilities. The COVID-19 pandemic has further highlighted this need. These support systems should enable persons with disabilities to participate in the community on an equal basis with others and enjoy all their human rights.
In October, the United States was pleased to co-host a side event with the Special Rapporteur, along with the Finnish and Irish delegations, to discuss the nexus of human rights and the historic UN Security Council Resolution 2475 on persons with disabilities in conflict. The following priorities were identified:
- ensuring involvement of persons with disabilities in decision making processes,
- monitoring and data collection,
- building the capacity of Disabled Persons Organizations (DPOs) in International Humanitarian Law,
- and conducting consultations between DPOs and military personnel.
In line with HRC Resolution 31/6 on the rights of persons with disabilities in situations of risk and humanitarian emergencies and UN Security Council Resolution 2475, the U.S. encourages member states to involve persons with disabilities in all aspects of the conflict continuum including prevention, resolution, reconciliation, reconstruction, and peacebuilding efforts. This approach can also be applied to responding to COVID-19, where persons with disabilities have faced significant challenges and barriers to accessing healthcare, education, and employment opportunities.
Question: What can Member States do to increase the meaningful participation of persons with disabilities in developing solutions to global challenges? Thank you.