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UAE seeks reforms for the disabled at UN convention

UAE seeks reforms for the disabled at UN convention

UAE Permanent Mission to the UN presents its policies to promote rights of people with disabilities.

By (Wam)

Published: Mon 15 Jun 2015, 12:39 AM

Last updated: Wed 8 Jul 2015, 3:09 PM

A special taxi fitted with the hydraulic system for people with special needs in Abu Dhabi. — File photo

New York - The United Arab Emirates (UAE) Permanent Mission to the United Nations (UN) has organised several programmes during the 8th Session of the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) .

The 8th session of the convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which began on Tuesday, was held at the United Nations headquarters in New York under the theme “Mainstreaming the rights of persons with disabilities in the post-2015 development agenda”.

The activities of the UAE were launched in partnership with Pineda Foundation/World Enabled to promote global coordination on the need to protect the human rights of people with disabilities.

The Permanent Representative of the UAE to the UN, Lana Nusseibeh, opened a lunch event on Wednesday by providing a compelling overview of the UAE’s efforts to promote inclusion, and the participation of persons with disabilities in public life at the national and international levels.

The high-level event was convened under the title “Delivering Inclusion: Innovations in Local Practice from the UAE and the Broader Region”, at the ONE UN New York Hotel.

The event highlighted some of the innovative policies and programmes from the UAE and GCC for implementing the CRPD on the local level.

Dr Victor Santiago Pineda, president, Pineda Foundation/World Enabled, moderated a high-level discussion between Emirati and global experts on inclusive development and comparative disability policy.

Dr Salem Ali Al Shafei, director of policies and programmes, rights of people with disabilities at the executive council, Government of Dubai; Mariam Al Qubaisi, head of the special-needs sector at the Zayed Higher Organisation for Humanitarian Care and Special Needs; Reem Al Faheem, CEO of Sedra Foundation for Inclusion and  Dr Ahmad Alsaif, Saudi Arabia’s candidate to the CRPD committee participated at the discussion.

During her opening speech, Nusseibeh cited the UAE Constitution, supplemented by UAE Federal Law No. 29 of 2006, as an important legal instrument to promote the rights and dignities of persons with disabilities, at the national level.

At the international level, the ambassador noted that the UAE signed the CRPD on February 8, 2008; and ratified it on March 19, 2010, pointing out that the agreement sets forth simple principles that advance human dignity and a more equitable approach to economic and social development. The ambassador explained these norms confer the responsibility on the UAE to promote the rights, provide opportunities for people with disabilities.

“In order to resolve them, we have been working with the Pineda Foundation to research our national responses and design effective policies and programmes,” she added.  She cited several examples that reflect the UAE efforts to provide equal opportunities for persons with disabilities in all fields, including education, sports, employment, and social participation.

Dr. Victor Santiago Pineda, commended the UAE’s efforts in moving from a framework of social care to social development and pointed to  the significance of research and data collection as a tool for evidence-based participatory in the process of policy-making.

Other speakers cited several policies and initiatives taken on by the UAE to facilitate the inclusion of people with disabilities into all facets of society such as those implemented by Abu Dhabi-based Sedra Foundation for Inclusion, the UAE Sports Organisations for person with disabilities and the Executive Council of the Government of Dubai.

The UAE Mission to UN also conducted another event entitled “The Arab Youth with Disabilities: Opportunities of Empowerment and Inclusion: Case Studies on Employment and accessibility” on the same day in collaboration with the Missions of Palestine and Egypt.

Mrs Wafa Hamad bin Sulaiman, manager of special needs department at the Ministry of Social Affairs, delivered the UAE’s national statement, highlighting the importance of conference as a platform to to seek global attention of the disabled who constitute 15 per cent of the world populations.

She offered several examples of the UAE’s policies that are integral part of key national strategies such as the UAE Vision 2021; Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030 and Dubai Strategic Plan 2021.

On Thursday, the UAE co-sponsored a large-scale event on the sideline of the conference, entitled “Forum on Disability and Development Part I: Accessible and Inclusive Urban Development”.

The event sought preparatory process leading up to Habitat III and its emerging “New Urban Agenda” in order to have a comprehensive disability-inclusive urban development.

The conference got an overview of the UAE’s commitment to work in collaboration with partners around the world to develop innovative reforms for the disabled people in the UAE.

Other experts who attended the conference included Prince Mired, head of the Higher Council of Affairs for Persons with Disabilities in Jordan; Commissioner Victor Calise, Mayor’s Office on Disability, New York City, Prof Maria Soledad Cisternas Reyes, chair of the CRPD Committee; Thomas  Gass, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Inter-Agency Affairs. Representatives from the other missions to the UN and leading global experts in inclusive and sustainable development were also present.

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