Among those attending the meeting was Judith Heumann, special advisor for international disability rights at the US State Department. She was a keynote speaker at the WCPT Congress in Vancouver in 2007. Picture: UN Photo/Evan Schneider
Among those attending the meeting was Judith Heumann, special advisor for international disability rights at the US State Department. She was a keynote speaker at the WCPT Congress in Vancouver in 2007. Picture: UN Photo/Evan Schneider

Hope that new UN goals will be inclusive of disability

Delegates at the biggest ever international conference on the rights of people with disabilities have emphasised the critical need for the United Nations to act as a “real, practical and daily advocate” for those who had once been “all but invisible on the world stage”.

The meeting was the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities – the landmark instrument adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in December 2006. The treaty has been widely supported around the world, and now has 153 signatories.  

The meeting, which attracted more than 700 participants, assessed progress among states party to the Convention, focusing in particular on accessibility, technology, training, and the integration of women and children with disabilities into society. 

"The annual conference is a huge coming together of states and actors from the disability community to update on developments relating to the implementation of the CRPD globally,” says Antony Duttine, Rehabilitation Technical Advisor in Global Health at Handicap International.

Discussions on the development of Post-Millennium Development Goals indicated that health issues were to be particularly significant, he said. The goals were likely, therefore, to be particularly relevant to physical therapists in the coming years.

“Much more broadly, there is a hope and strong demand that the post-MDGs need to be fully inclusive of disability in all sectors,” said Antony Duttine.

He added that the meeting was also significant for physical therapists in that the World Health Organization and UNICEF launched a discussion paper on early childhood development and UNICEF has launched a new global partnership on children with disabilities which will initially focus on nutrition, education and emergencies.