The annual observance of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities will take place this year on December 3, 2009. This day aims to promote an understanding of disability issues, the rights of persons with disabilities, and the gains to be derived from the integration of persons with disabilities in every aspect of the political, social, economic, and cultural life of their communities. This Day, which was established by the World Programme of Action Concerning Disabled Persons, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1982, provides an opportunity to mobilize action to achieve the goal of full and equal enjoyment of human rights and participation in society by persons with disabilities.
Globally, almost one in ten people have a disability and recent studies indicate that persons with disabilities constitute up to 20 percent of the population living in poverty in developing countries. Many persons with disabilities continue to face barriers to their participation in their communities and are often forced to live on the margins of society. They often face stigma and discrimination and are routinely denied basic rights such as food, education, employment, access to health, and reproductive health services. Many persons with disabilities are also forced into institutions, a direct breach of the rights to freedom of movement and to live in their communities.
The United Nations has a long history of promoting the rights and well-being of all people, including persons with disabilities. The organization has worked to ensure their full and effective participation in the civil, political, economic, social, and cultural spheres on an equal basis with others in order to achieve a society for all. The organization’s commitment to the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights by persons with disabilities is deeply rooted in a quest for social justice and equity in all aspects of societal development. The World Programme of Action Concerning Disabled Persons and the Standard Rules on Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities translated the organization’s commitment into an international policy framework, which has been further strengthened by the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, an international legal instrument, to empower persons with disabilities to better their lives and that of their communities around the world.