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International Day for Persons with Disabilities: together to remove barriers

Today, the 3rd of December, marks the International Day for Persons with Disabilities, which is celebrated worldwide every year, where, each year, an appropriate slogan/theme is suggested for the celebrations which suits the purposes for which this day is dedicated. These purposes include promoting awareness on issues related to persons with disabilities and the need for their inclusion in all walks of public life with emphasis laid on the benefits derived by both persons with disabilities  and society itself as result of this integration, in addition to ensuring that people with disabilities enjoy all of their human rights, as stated in the international program of action on persons with disabilities which was endorsed by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1982.

According to available statistics, there is at least one person with disability in every ten people in the world. This segment, which is by no means insignificant, suffers from serious problems which hamper their participation in public life and affect their own personal lives to the extent that large numbers of them are compelled to withdraw and pull back to live in isolation, sacrificing in the process many of their human rights such as the right to work, the right to education, the right to health, and the right to political participation, among others.  They equally deprive their communities of their signification participations which just disappear away with them. As noted by the Secretary- General in his address on this occasion, people with disabilities have alerted the world of their great abilities in the Olympics of people with disabilities this year, where the world has been impressed by their creativity which stands as a prove that they are capable of work,  bestowal , and creativity.

United Nations has made great efforts to protect the rights of people with disabilities and to enhance their well-being. To that effect, a series of international conventions has been issued; most notably the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol, as their rights constitute an integral part of human rights looked after by the UN organization.

Perhaps it goes without saying that wars and conflicts increase the proportion of persons with disabilities. The Arab Spring revolutions which are still unfolding, are yet leaving behind large numbers of people with disabilities, a fact which may reinforces our call for all – to remain faithful to these revolutions - to act towards ensuring the rights of persons with disabilities and to facilitate the process of their integration in the communities through showing confidence in their abilities and expressing concern for their participation in all spheres, and removing all barriers that stand in the way of realizing their human rights. This can only be had through raising awareness of their rights and propagating their capabilities through different activities, policies, and programs. Our cultures and our religions offer great help in this respect, as respecting and protecting the rights of persons with disabilities has deep roots is deep-rooted in our cultures, religions, local traditions. We at the Geneva Institute for Human Rights call upon everyone to spare no effort for the sake of achieving the theme of this year: “removal of barriers that stand in the way of establishing an inclusive society where all can conveniently communicate”.

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