Ensuring Inclusion for Children with Disabilities – Keynote Speech
International Web-Forum dedicated to the World Children’s Day and 75th Anniversary of UNICEF
Organised by “Zamin” International Public Foundation and UNICEF office in Uzbekistan
ENSURING INCLUSION FOR CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES
EUSR for Human Rights, Eamon Gilmore
Online event, 19 November 2021
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H.E. Ziroatkhon Mirziyoyeva, Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of the «Zamin» International Public Foundation, HCHR Michelle Bachelet, ministers, excellences, and distinguished speakers.
Good morning / good afternoon to all.
It is a great pleasure to be with you, on behalf of the European Union, ahead of the World Children’s Day, the 75th Anniversary of UNICEF, and the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, and I want to thank the organisers for gathering us today.
These kinds of events are important, because they facilitate the collective reflection to find effective solutions and they bring light to individuals who are too often left behind, children with disabilities.
The valuable work provided by UNICEF in its report: “Seen, Counted, Included: ‘Using data to shed light on the well-being of children with disabilities”, it is estimated that 240 million children have disabilities globally, that means one child in ten. These children represent an important part of our societies, but still today, many children with disabilities remain invisible and are put at the margins of the community due to the discriminations they face. The important UN Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty, has highlighted the overrepresentation of children with disabilities in detention centres, where they are more at risk of exploitation, violence, abuse, torture and other forms of ill-treatment.
With this difficult reality in mind, it is necessary to underline the important milestone marked by the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2006, which shifted the global understanding towards a true human rights-based approach. States Parties to the Convention have the obligation to take all necessary measures to ensure the full enjoyment by children with disabilities of all human rights. In this context, I want to commend the national steps taken by Uzbekistan to ratify the Convention and stress the need to elaborate effective measures to implement this important instrument to ensure full enjoyment of human rights for children with disabilities.
The EU too is determined to play a leading role and live up to its commitments. A new Strategy for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2021-2030 was adopted in March this year, holding an intersectional perspective to realise a Union of equality.
But promoting the rights of children with disabilities is also an important part of our external action, notably piloted by our Human Rights Guidelines for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of the Child and our Human Rights Guidelines on non-discrimination in external action, respectively adopted in 2017 and 2019, both including elements to fight prejudices based on disability. Likewise, EU’s commitment is reflected in the EU Action Plan 2020-2024, adopted unanimously by the 27 Member States in November 2020.
In addition, the EU has supported and funded positive initiatives all around the world. In Uzbekistan, the EU participated in the project ‘Inclusive Education for Children with Special Needs’, which had a concrete impact on the situation of children with disabilities.
Considering the serious situation of children with disabilities worldwide, we need to increase our joint efforts to effectively implement our commitments, fight social stigma associated to disabilities, and discriminations that lead to social rejection.
Girls and boys with disabilities need to be able to make their voices heard and be consulted in decisions involving them. Above all, they are children with universal, inalienable and indivisible human rights and fundamental freedoms, like all any other child.