The Inquirer (Monrovia)

4 February 2013

Liberia: Disability People Recommend to UN High Level Panel

People with disabilities have Liberia's position paper on recommendations to be taken for consideration by the UN High Level Panel committee meeting held recently in Monrovia. The group's President and CEO of the Christian Association of the Blind Mr. Beyan Gorbala Kota said the task of developing a political framework to promote accessibility for ordinary people, vulnerable groups and the elderly extends also to ensure the inclusion of persons with disabilities, the youths and those living with HIV/AIDS.

In his communication dated January 30, 2013, to the three co-chairs of the High Level Panel, Mr. Kota indicated that it is the group's determination to influence policy makers to collectively agree on the adoption of an international agenda to address major global problems such as extreme poverty and hunger and the failure to guarantee the effective participation of all in the process of developing an inclusive framework that will ensure a human rights base approach, equality and non-discrimination.

"Why we cannot deny the fact that the current millennium goals have improved many lives around the world, it is increasingly clear that little or no progress has been made positively to transform the conditions of the life of ordinary people, especially those living with disabilities in developing countries where the economic and social situations are acutely devastating and life-threatening," Mr. Kota said.

He acknowledged that his association is aware that there is a global consensus on the need for a stand-alone goal on equality and non-discrimination as well as several order provisions under each separate goal with commitment to ensure necessary impacts on people with disabilities and they considered to include a data and the aggregation of same for those with disabilities.

According to him, up to 15 per cent of the women population (an estimated one billion), are people with disabilities, and were disproportionately found among those living below the absolute poverty line.

"We believe that persons with disabilities deserve the right to challenge discrimination and to be supported in the fight against poverty. It is our strongest conviction that the world sees that need to make our concern a key focus to the drive for a new sustainable development framework so as to enable a focus on the poorest of the poor, the least educated, the least empowered and the most marginalized persons with disabilities in particular," Mr. Kota said.

Mr. Kota explained that persons with disabilities face barriers to participation in society, such as in accessory development programs and funds, education, employment, health care, communication services, while Individuals with disabilities and their families, of whom 80% live in developing countries, are over-represented among those living in absolute poverty.

Furthermore, he said, they are particularly at risk to the effects of climate change such as natural disasters and food insecurity. They are also more vulnerable in situations of conflicts.

"Your Excellency Madam Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, President of the Republic of Liberia, for your preferment as Co-chair of the UN High Level Panel Committee charged with the responsibility to review the current Millennium Development Goals (MDGS), we are pleased to advance the following recommendations among others for consideration in the post 2015 development agenda process," Kota recommended thus:

That the current understanding and definition of poverty be revised so that it goes beyond income consumption and wealth; that the new development framework becomes inclusive of persons with disabilities and compliant with the convention on the rights and dignity of person with disabilities and that all goals be inclusive of persons with disabilities and that there be specific indicators related to the inclusion of persons with disabilities within each of the goals ( refer to article 32 on the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities), which aims to promote the right and full and effective participation of persons with disabilities by supporting the work of representative organizations of disabled people.

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