Magazine article UN Chronicle

Draft Rules on Disability Aim to Equalize Opportunities

Magazine article UN Chronicle

Draft Rules on Disability Aim to Equalize Opportunities

Article excerpt

The Commission for Social Development has proposed draft standard rules to assist States in equalizing opportunities for people with disabilities.

The new rules on disability, to be formally adopted by the General Assembly, would give disabled people the same rights and obligations as others. While not compulsory, they are intended to guide States in formulating their disability policies, as well as help the disabled to push for their rights and seek policy reforms.

The 32-member Commission, in approving 10 resolutions at its thirty-third session (8-17 February, Vienna), also proposed an agenda for the World Summit for Social Development, scheduled to be held in early 1995, in Copenhagen, Denmark.

In other texts, the Commission urged Governments to intensify preparations for the International Year of the Family (1994), declaring 15 May as the International Day of Families, and approved texts on the monitoring of international plans and programmes on youth and the elderly.

Featured prominently in debate was the 1993 Report on the World Social Situation (see story, page 62).

The Commission, which meets every two years, advises the Economic and Social Council on policies to promote social progress and practical measures for social welfare and development.

Equal rights for disabled

The draft rules on disability outline the preconditions for equal participation in society, including awareness-raising about the rights and needs of disabled people, and the provision of adequate medical care and rehabilitation services. Target areas for equal participation include: access to the physical environment; education, employment and social security; and recreation, religious and cultural activities.

The draft rules also propose monitoring mechanisms and implementation measures to achieve their objectives, including national legislation.

In other action, the Commission requested development of a plan of action to implement the long-term strategy of the 1982 World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons. A framework for such a plan was suggested at an expert group meeting in Vancouver, Canada, in April 1992.

The Commission also appealed to all governments to observe the International Day of Disabled Persons (3 December) as proclaimed by the General Assembly in its resolution 47/3.

Promotion of full participation of the disabled within the UN system was also urged.

Agenda for 1995 Summit

The proposed agenda for the 1995 World Summit for Social Development is to centre on three core issues: alleviation of poverty; expansion of employment; and enhancement of social integration.

The Summit is to foster greater understanding of the importance of social development, highlighting the need for integration of social and economic development. It would express a shared worldwide commitment to put the needs of people at the centre of development and of international cooperation as a major priority of international relations.

The Commission, stressing that welfare provisions should not just aim at protecting people, but also help them to reduce their vulnerability, called for: decentralizing decision-making and finding cost-effective programmes to ensure full participation of all people in society; monitoring the impact of policies to eliminate poverty; and improving education and employment opportunities to enhance human development.

In debate, most delegates supported the Summit's focus on poverty reduction, generation of productive employment, and promotion of greater social cohesion. …

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