UN High Commissioner for Human Rights calls for end of exploitation and marginalization of persons with disabilities

Blind Ethiopian human rights defender Yetnebersh Nigussie with Professor Ron McCallum and Navi Pillay

Blind Ethiopian human rights defender Yetnebersh Nigussie with Professor Ron McCallum and Navi Pillay

GENEVA, Switzerland, – African Press Organization (APO) – Every seventh person on earth has a disability. Tendency increasing. Although the majority of persons with disabilities live in developing countries, demographic changes are also causing significant increase of persons with disabilities in developed countries. Human rights are universal. In a high-level discussion in Geneva UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay called for an end to the exclusion of persons with disabilities.  

Navi Pillay is obviously in a good mood as she enters the Human Rights Council of the United Nations in Geneva. Worldwide efforts to strengthen the rights of the most vulnerable members of society are making progress. As Pillay opens the discussion the soberness of her observations baffle: “Ending the exploitation, marginalization and exclusion of persons with disabilities makes simple good sense.  Persons with disabilities whose rights are protected and are free from discrimination are better able to contribute both economically and socially to their communities.”

The blind Ethiopian human rights defender Yetnebersh Nigussie reiterates those words through child–hood experience: “My mother was afraid I would be raped and therefore I was sent to special school. Women with disabilities are highly vulnerable and their rights are still in question also in those countries that have ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.”

Professor Ron McCallum was the first blind professor in Australia and has blazed his professional trail impressing faculties around the world with his expertise. The renown lawyer is vice-president of the United Nations Committee on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. His message to the world is simple: “We want to play and work like everyone else. How we treat persons with disabilities is a litmus test for our societies. Persons with Disabilities are among the poorest in the world, inclusion in the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals is essential.”

High Commissioner Navi Pillay has her eyes set on New York, where heads of states will convene on September 23 to adopt an action oriented plan to strengthen the rights of persons with disabilities: “The High Level Meeting of the General Assembly on disability and development takes place in ten days from now. It is an opportunity that we must seize.”

Distributed by the African Press Organization on behalf of Light for the World.

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