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Implementation of the World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons : report of the Secretary-General.

UN Document Symbol A/49/435
Convention Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
Document Type Report of the Secretary-General
Session 49th
Type Document

23 p., tables

Subjects Persons with Disabilities, Non-Governmental Organizations, Disability Prevention, Rehabilitation, Equal Opportunity

Extracted Text

General Assembly
27 September 1994
Forty-ninth session
Agenda item 95
Implementation of the World Programme of Action
concerning Disabled Persons
Report of the Secretary-General
Paragraphs Page
I. INTRODUCTION .......................................... 1 2
CONCERNING DISABLED PERSONS ........................... 2 - 47 2
A. Measures undertaken by the United Nations system .. 2 - 43 2
B. Cooperation with Governments and international
non-governmental organizations .................... 44 - 47 12
BEYOND ................................................ 48 13
Annex. Towards a society for all: Long-term Strategy to
Implement the World Programme of Action concerning
Disabled Persons to the Year 2000 and Beyond .................... 14
94-37622 (E) 131094 /...
Page 2
1. The present report is submitted pursuant to General Assembly resolution
48/99 of 20 December 1993, which requested the Secretary-General to continue to
give higher priority to disability issues within the programmes of work of the
United Nations system and to report to the Assembly at its forty-ninth session
on relevant developments in the area and in the context of his report on the
development of a plan of action to implement the long-term strategy to further
the implementation of the World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons.
The draft plan of action, requested by the General Assembly in its resolution
48/99 and by the Economic and Social Council in its resolution 1993/20 of 27
July 1993, is attached as an annex to the present report.
A. Measures undertaken by the United Nations system
1. United Nations Secretariat
(a) Department for Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development
2. In its capacity as focal point for the United Nations programme on disabled
persons, the Department has directed special attention during the period under
review to furthering implementation of the Standard Rules on the Equalization of
Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities, adopted by the General Assembly in
its resolution 48/96 of 20 December 1993 (see annex), and to promotion and
development of national disability committees and related coordinating bodies,
pursuant to resolution 46/96 of 16 December 1991.
3. To promote and strengthen coordination of national disability policies and
programmes, the Department organized a number of training seminars with
financing from extrabudgetary resources. These included the regional training
seminar for Eastern Europe and the Baltic States on adapting guidelines for
establishment and development of national coordinating committees on disability
or similar bodies (Sinaia, Romania, 20-24 September 1993), and the regional
seminar for Latin America on national disability programmes (San José,
7-10 March 1994).
4. A major development in furthering implementation of the Standard Rules has
been the designation of Mr. Bengt Lindqvist, former Minister for Social Affairs
(Sweden), as Special Rapporteur for the Standard Rules. The position is being
supported by voluntary contributions. The Government of Sweden has indicated
that it will provide an in-kind contribution; the Government of Japan has
indicated that it will provide an earmarked contribution for activities of the
Special Rapporteur; and Governments are also considering possible support to the
Special Rapporteur.
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5. Greater awareness and understanding of the Standard Rules are being
promoted through their publication and distribution by the United Nations,
Member States and the non-governmental community. This includes publication by
the United Nations of the full text of the Rules in the six official languages
of the Organization, as well as in English, French and Spanish Braille. The
Department of Public Information issued a brief information note on the Rules.
The Rules have already been published through other sources in the following
languages: Czech, Finnish, Icelandic, Japanese, Korean and Swedish.
6. The Department for Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development is
directing special attention to finalizing technical reports on project planning
in the disability field and disability legislation.
7. The Manual on Integration of Disability Issues into National Planning and
Development Projects, prepared with a voluntary contribution from the Government
of Finland, is designed to be a source of practical knowledge and information to
assist Governments plan and implement policies and programmes in the disability
field. The manual is scheduled to be published in 1995; it may also be
incorporated in a proposed update of the Advisory Note on Disability of the
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
8. The Manual on Disability Legislation in Developing Countries, prepared with
a voluntary contribution from the Government of Sweden, is based upon expert
meetings organized during the period under review: the consultative expert
meeting on national disability legislation for developing countries in the
southern African subregion (Mbabane, 6-8 April 1992), the consultative expert
meeting for Asia and Pacific (Kuala Lumpur, 6-8 December 1993), and the regional
seminar on national disability programmes for Latin America (San José,
7-10 March 1994). The manual is scheduled to be published during 1995.
9. The Department provides the secretariat for three major international
events occurring during the biennium 1994-1995: the International Year of the
Family (1994), the World Summit for Social Development (Copenhagen,
6-12 March 1995) and the Fourth World Conference on Women: action for equality,
development and peace (Beijing, 4-15 September 1995). Preparations for each
event are characterized by due concern for disability issues. For instance,
regional preparatory meetings organized prior to the observation in 1994 of the
International Year of the Family included disability among priority issues
addressed. The ad hoc secretariat for the International Year of the Family
recently issued an occasional paper on "Families and disability". The draft
programme of action considered the Preparatory Committee for the World Summit
for Social Development at its second session (New York, 22 August-
2 September 1994) directs special attention to disability in connection with the
three priority themes of the Summit, social integration and employment in
particular. The draft platform for action, considered by the Commission on the
Status of Women at its thirty-eighth session (New York, 7-18 March 1994), acting
as preparatory body for the Fourth World Conference, addresses disability with
respect to areas in which gender and disability issues intersect priority
Conference themes.
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(b) Statistical Division, Department for Economic and Social Information and
Policy Analysis
10. The Statistical Division of the Secretariat continued work on development
of disability statistics in two areas: design of statistical methodology and
standards for data collection; and production of statistics and indicators of
11. An expert group meeting on the development of impairment, disability and
handicap statistics will be organized by the Division from 7 to 11 November 1994
at Voorburg, the Netherlands, hosted by the Netherlands Central Bureau of
Statistics. The meeting will review existing disability data collection methods
and standards and prepare a guiding set of principles for use in census, surveys
and registration systems. The meeting has been planned to coordinate with the
next international meeting of the World Health Organization (WHO) on revision of
the International Classification of Impairments, Disabilities and Handicaps,
also to be held in the Netherlands, from 14 to 18 November 1994.
12. The Statistical Division and the North America Collaborating Centre
(National Centre for Health Statistics) jointly organized an international
meeting on the scientific review of applications of the International
Classification (Harbour Town, Maryland, USA, 31 May-3 June 1994).
13. A disability-related indicator was developed by the Division and WHO in
connection with preparation of global indicators for the third monitoring of
progress towards health for all, to be carried out at national level by member
States: "number of people identified as having one of the following types of
disabilities: difficulty seeing, difficulty hearing, difficulty speaking,
difficulty moving, difficulty learning/comprehending/remembering, or other
(specify)". The indicator was published in Implementation of strategies for
health for all by the year 2000; third monitoring of progress - common
framework. 1/ A similar indicator was developed by the United Nations
Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and WHO in collaboration with the Division to assess
progress in implementing the objectives of the World Summit for Children; it is
reported in Indicators for monitoring health goals of the World Summit for
Children recommended by WHO and UNICEF for national monitoring, programme
management and international reporting (1993).
14. The Statistical Division continued work on development and practical use of
the United Nations Disability Statistics Database for production of statistics
and indicators. A consultant study was prepared during 1994, entitled "A Human
Development Agenda for Disability: Statistical Considerations". An extract of
the findings was included in the discussion on human security in the UNDP
1994 Human Development Report. The Division contributed an article on
"Disability Statistics in Studies of Ageing" to the Demographic Yearbook;
special issue on ageing, 2/ that presents age- and gender-specific disability
data for 57 countries and discusses implications for policy formulation and
programme planning. This project was supported by the United Nations Population
Fund (UNFPA). A "Statistical Chart on World Families", 3/ co-financed by the
Trust Fund for International Year of the Family, was compiled by the Division
and includes data on the percentage of people with disabilities for
87 countries. The Division prepared with WHO a report on health statistics, the
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Conference of European Statisticians on the International Classification and the
development of disability statistics for the Fifth Economic Commission for
Europe (ECE)/WHO Joint Meeting. 4/ The Report of the International Workshop on
the Development and Dissemination of Statistics on Persons with Disabilities,
organized by Statistics Canada and the Division at Ottawa from 13 to
16 October 1992, is available in English and French. The Division has drafted,
in collaboration with WHO, a training manual on development of disability
statistics for the use of programme managers and planners, focusing on
production of national disability statistics through surveys, censuses and
registration systems. The manual is scheduled for publication by the United
Nations in 1994 and has been co-financed by the Swedish International
Development Authority.
(c) United Nations Centre for Human Rights
15. The World Conference on Human Rights, held at Vienna from 14 to
25 June 1993, reaffirmed in its Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action that
all human rights and fundamental freedoms were universal and thus unreservedly
included people with disabilities. The Commission on Human Rights and the
Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights have been encouraged to pay
due attention to the promotion and protection of human rights of persons with
disabilities. Resolution 1994/27 of the Commission on Human Rights reaffirmed
its commitment to ensuring the rights of persons with disabilities.
(d) United Nations Development Programme
16. Through its Interregional Project for Disabled People, which focuses on
community-based rehabilitation for people with disabilities, UNDP produced and
published the following documents: "Prejudice and Dignity: an introduction to
community-based rehabilitation" (1993), and "OMAR in Rehabilitation: a guide on
operations monitoring and analysis of results" and "Play with your children"
(Africa version, 1994). The project also conducted training seminars and
workshops in India, Finland, and Switzerland in 1994.
17. IMPACT, the International Initiative Against Avoidable Disablement, a joint
initiative of UNDP, UNICEF and WHO, focuses on promotion of integrated
approaches to strengthening the health and development sectors at the community
level to prevent avoidable disabilities and aims to reduce and, when possible,
eliminate causes and incidences of disabling conditions or accidents. During
1993 the director of the India IMPACT Foundation was awarded the Department of
Public Information Grand Award in recognition of her contributions to the
development and operational success of "Lifeline Express", which is a joint
public and private sector initiative in using trains to bring needed medical
care, such as immunization, diagnostic services and surgery for disabling
conditions, to rural villages. An IMPACT pilot project in Mali on eradication
of the guinea-worm provides an example of the importance IMPACT attaches to
community participation in the implementation of preventive interventions.
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(e) United Nations Children’s Fund
18. UNICEF is currently engaged in implementation of its mid-term plan for
childhood disability (1994-1997), which focuses on (a) consolidation of
preventive measures such as immunization and the control of micro-nutrient
deficiencies; (b) establishing systems to facilitate early detection of
disabilities; and (c) supporting community-based rehabilitation as an integral
part of basic services.
19. UNICEF reports that 70 countries, including 56 developing countries, have
included programmes on prevention of disability, early detection and
community-based rehabilitation services for children who are disabled. In
addition, the Convention on the Rights of Children, which in its article 23
refers to rights of children with disabilities, has been ratified by more than
150 countries.
20. UNICEF has called for a total ban on the production, use, stockpiling as
well as the sale and export of anti-personnel land-mines, a major cause of
disablement both in times of armed conflict and in reconstruction efforts.
(f) United Nations Refugee and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near
21. UNRWA has taken a number of initiatives in the field of disability,
including community-based services for disabled persons in its area of
operations, through community rehabilitation centres and health programmes aimed
at preventing disabling illness and conditions. UNRWA reports that
poliomyelitis is virtually eradicated among Palestinian refugee children. UNRWA
has set a target for 2 per cent of new staff recruitment to be drawn from
appropriately qualified disabled persons. In the light of recent political
developments, UNRWA intends to direct special attention to building capacities
of the Palestinian people to plan and manage sustainable services for disabled
persons, and to effective integration of disabled persons, in the educational,
social and economic sectors.
2. Regional commissions of the United Nations
(a) Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific
22. Several member Governments of ESCAP have contributed to establishment of a
trust fund to promote the Asian and Pacific Decade of Disabled Persons
(1993-2002). The Asia-Pacific Inter-organizational Task Force on
Disability-related Concerns, composed of United Nations agencies and
non-governmental organizations concerned with disability, has expanded its
membership and provided support to the implementation of its "Agenda for
23. Regional action is emphasizing strengthening of self-help organizations of
people with disabilities, promotion of non-handicapping environments,
facilitating regional cooperation on production of low-cost, high-quality
technical aids, poverty alleviation among rural people with disabilities and
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enactment of disability legislation. To that end, during the United Nations
Decade (1983-1992) ESCAP organized training workshops on management of self-help
organizations of people with disabilities, carried out surveys, prepared
technical guidelines on improving access to the built environment in developing
countries of the ESCAP region and collaborated with non-governmental
organizations in convening regional conferences of non-governmental
organizations to promote the Asia-Pacific Decade. In 1993 ESCAP published a
compendium of reference material on the Decade, "Asian and Pacific Decade of
Disabled Persons, 1993-2002: the starting point".
(b) Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia
24. ESCWA is revising the draft regional long-term strategy to further the
implementation of the World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons,
formulated during the substantive session of the 1992 cultural event for
disabled persons in the ESCWA region (Amman, 17 and 18 October 1992).
25. In October 1993, ESCWA co-organized, with the University Rehabilitation
Institute at Ljubljana, the International Society for Prosthetics and Orthotics
and the Government of Jordan, a workshop for key medical and technical personnel
in prosthetics and orthotics for the Western Asia and Eastern Mediterranean
region (Amman, 8-15 October 1993).
26. In conjunction with ongoing reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts in
the war-torn areas of the region, ESCWA designated a specialist in
"barrier-free" design to assist efforts in Lebanon.
27. ESCWA, in collaboration with UNICEF and interested non-governmental
organizations, will organize a regional seminar on the role of the family in
integrating disabled women into society (Amman, 16-18 October 1994). The
seminar will provide a forum to discuss and assess the nature and situation of
disabled Arab women and their children and the level of their social
integration. The seminar is expected to strengthen the ESCWA regional
inter-agency task force on disability, first established in 1989.
(c) Economic Commission for Europe
28. ECE is compiling a final review publication of its project on
rehabilitation engineering, which is based upon workshops in the United States
of America, Norway and the Czech Republic. The project objective was to bring
together designers, manufacturers, rehabilitation experts and users to identify
and analyse the status of rehabilitation services, provision of technical aids
and assistive technologies, and development of market potential for
rehabilitation. Closer international cooperation in the field was recommended,
especially with Central and Eastern European countries in transition. The ECE
Inland Transport Committee collected and analysed information provided by member
States on measures adopted to facilitate mobility of disabled persons; and
amendments to the Convention on Road Traffic have been prepared. In the field
of human settlements and housing, ECE has undertaken a project on the status and
conditions of the elderly and of persons with disabilities in the ECE region.
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3. Specialized agencies
(a) International Labour Organization
29. ILO activities in the disability field focus on promotion of equal training
and employment opportunities for people with disabilities. ILO Convention
No. 159 on Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment of Disabled Persons, the
main tool in this area, has been ratified by 48 countries.
30. Thirty-one technical cooperation projects currently are being implemented
by ILO in this area, of which some are being undertaken in cooperation with
other United Nations bodies and organizations. ILO has published a guide for
employers’ organizations and a guide for workers’ organizations on job creation
for disabled people. ILO also published a guide for specialists working in its
multidisciplinary teams on inclusion of disability issues in the advisory and
training activities of the team.
31. In connection with its seventy-fifth anniversary, in 1994, ILO issued two
publications in the disability field: "Towards Equalizing Opportunities for
Disabled People in Asia: Guide", and "Disability Employment in Asia". The
guide is a product of a consultative workshop organized by the ILO Regional
Office for Asia and the Pacific and the ILO East Asia Multidisciplinary Advisory
Team; it describes changes taking place in Asia and worldwide, suggests policy
targets, describes a range of alternative strategies, including relative
strengths and weaknesses, and underlines the goal of the equality of opportunity
of people with disabilities. The second publication aims to promote awareness
of the disability situation in the region and provide guidelines on disability
and employment issues.
(b) Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations
32. FAO has ongoing vitamin A deficiency projects in a number of developing
countries, including Burkina Faso, Ghana, India, Nepal, Nigeria and Viet Nam;
possible expansion to other countries is under review. FAO reports that schemes
to settle people who were formerly threatened with river blindness has been
proceeding satisfactorily; many people are now returning or moving to the lands,
estimated at 25 million hectares, that have been freed from the threat of
33. The 1992 International Conference on Nutrition produced the World
Declaration and Plan of Action for Nutrition, which inspired Governments to take
the initiative for the elaboration of a national action plan, including specific
activities for disabled persons. Integration of disabled persons as
beneficiaries of national development projects for high-value horticulture crops
has been a feature of programmes under implementation in Uganda and Bangladesh.
FAO also provides technical assistance to train disabled groups in the
production of fruit and vegetables in India.
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(c) United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
34. UNESCO cooperated with the Government of Spain to organize the World
Conference on Special Needs Education: Access and Quality (Salamanca,
7-10 June 1994). The Conference considered new thinking on learning
disabilities and on the relationship between special education provision and
general school reform.
(d) World Health Organization
35. WHO continued its efforts to promote the strengthening of rehabilitation
services through community-based services and health care referral services.
During the period under review, 34 countries benefited from WHO workshops
focusing on disability issues. Fourteen countries received direct assistance
for programme planning, monitoring or evaluation. Guidelines for management,
training and selected rehabilitation interventions have been prepared and are
36. WHO prepared, in cooperation with ILO and UNESCO, a joint position paper on
the concept of community-based rehabilitation to inform policy-makers and
programme managers on its objectives and methods for implementation.
4. Technical cooperation activities
37. In its resolution 48/99, the General Assembly urged Governments to
integrate disability concerns in technical cooperation activities, including
exchanges of knowledge and experience. This has been considered in the
preceding paragraphs. In addition, the United Nations Secretariat, in
cooperation with the Government of the Netherlands and the World Veterans
Federation, a non-governmental organization, organized on request an advisory
mission to Belarus in January 1993. The mission focused on disability policy
formulation, legislation, services, training and programme coordination. The
mission assisted in analyses of the current situation of disabled persons, in
identification of priorities for policy formulation and in formulation of
options for short- and long-term action. An ad hoc advisory mission was
undertaken to South Africa in October 1993 at the request of Government, the
African National Congress and the National Council for the Physically Disabled.
Consultations focused on national disability programmes and implementation of
the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with
5. United Nations Voluntary Fund on Disability
38. Pursuant to General Assembly resolution 47/88 of 16 December 1992, special
attention was directed to building national capacities and expanding technical
exchanges among developing countries to further implementation of the
development objectives of the World Programme of Action concerning Disabled
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39. During the period under review the Fund received more than 100 inquiries
about possibilities of obtaining technical and financial assistance in the
disability field. Inquiries came in the main from the non-governmental
community, which reflects the growing sense of empowerment among organizations
of people with disabilities. Proposals received are reviewed by substantive
specialists, whose appraisals are provided to all parties concerned with the
proposal. Funding recommendations are prepared for activities that reflect most
closely priorities identified for the Fund by the General Assembly. Proposals
from non-governmental organizations require endorsement of the concerned
governmental office.
40. Table 1 indicates that 11 of the 12 proposals approved for funding during
1993 supported specific action benefiting people with disabilities at national
and regional levels. This involved a resource commitment by the Fund of
$160,120. Of that total, $57,520 (36 per cent) was provided in the form of
co-financing grants from the Arab Gulf Programme for United Nations Development
Organizations (AGFUND) under its cooperative programme with the Fund.
Co-financing grants from AGFUND now total more than $1 million and AGFUND
remains the single largest contributor to the Fund. It should be noted that,
consistent with the Fund mandate, each $1 granted by the Fund helps to mobilize
on average an additional $4 for action in the disability field.
Table 1. Distribution of grants for 1993, by region
Grant amount Total budget
Region Number of grants United States dollars
Africa 2 18 000 49 100
Asia and the Pacific 3 35 600 361 805
Latin America and the
2 21 000 58 100
Western Asia 4 75 520 267 500
Interregional 1 10 000 47 000
Total 12 160 120 783 315
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41. Table 2 provides a list of Fund-assisted activities approved during 1993.
More than half are concerned with training and institution-building, including
two projects co-financed with AGFUND. Two projects focused on improving the
flow of information on disability issues and concerns of peoples with
disabilities. Support was also provided for NGO-initiatives in incomegeneration
in rural Zambia and in sports for people with disabilities in Western
Asia. The Fund-assisted initiative of the Alvarez International Centre on
Ageing, in the Dominican Republic, focuses on increasing the involvement of
older persons in the organization and delivery of essential services among rural
people with disabilities.
Table 2. Projects approved in 1993
Location Project title
Dominican Republic Survey and seminar on self-help networks of older
disabled persons
India Woodwork training for the deaf
Interregional World Federation of the Deaf: preparation of an
organization manual
Lebanon Al-Amal Institute for Mentally Handicapped Children
(phase II) a/
Africa Training leaders of the Eastern Africa Federation of the
Asia and Pacific Training instructors in oesophogeal speaking
Asia and Pacific Support for initiatives of developing countries in
education of the deaf/blind
Western Asia Arab regional summer games for people with disabilities
Western Asia Regional seminar on disabled women
Western Asia Workshop for key medical and technical personnel in
prosthetics and orthotics
Trinidad and Tobago Production of a career booklet on people with
Zambia Self-help project for the disabled at Kasama
a/ Co-financed by AGFUND: $26,550.
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42. The review of project cycle activities in 1993 indicates that the Fund
plays a unique role both in furthering implementation of policies and programmes
of benefit to persons with disabilities and in supporting efforts by disabled
people to strengthen negotiating capacities for policy design, programme
planning and project implementation. The data suggest that seed-money grants of
the Fund are instrumental in mobilizing resources not otherwise available for
action of benefit to people with disabilities. The increased involvement of
organizations of disabled people in cooperation with government reflects growing
public-private-voluntary sector partnership for action in the disability field.
6. Panel of Eminent Persons
43. In its resolution 48/99, the General Assembly requests the Secretary-
General to pursue his efforts to establish a panel of persons with wide
experience in the field of disability to advise him on disability matters. In
that connection it might be recalled that chapter IV, "Monitoring mechanism", of
the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with
Disabilities, adopted by the General Assembly in its resolution 48/96, refers to
the establishment of a panel of experts from among international organizations
of persons with disabilities to be consulted by the Special Rapporteur for the
Rules and when appropriate the Secretariat. In conjunction with the designation
of Mr. B. Lindqvist as Special Rapporteur, representatives of organizations of
disabled persons met at Headquarters (20 and 21 August 1994) to review and
discuss his programme of work and took a decision on a framework for the expert
panel envisaged in the Standard Rules. In the light of those developments
further study is required of experience gained in such a manner of providing
expert advice in the disability field to the Special Rapporteur and to the
B. Cooperation with Governments and international
non-governmental organizations
44. In its resolution 1993/20, the Economic and Social Council requests that
the draft plan of action to implement a long-term strategy to further
implementation of the World Programme of Action be developed in consultation
with international non-governmental organizations of persons with disabilities.
In fact the non-governmental community, in cooperation with Governments
concerned, made important contributions to furthering implementation of the
World Programme itself during the period under review.
45. The Secretariat collaborated with the Government of Iceland, the Icelandic
National Federation of Persons with Disabilities and the Icelandic Organization
of Disabled Persons to organize an international conference entitled "Beyond
normalization; towards ’One Society for All’" (Reykjavik, 1-3 June 1994). The
meeting was attended by 700 participants, had substantive sessions dealing with
such issues as national disability legislation and international cooperation,
and adopted the Reyjkavik Declaration in support of the Standard Rules on the
Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities and the work of the
Special Rapporteur for the Standard Rules.
Page 13
46. The World Veterans Federation organized its Sixth International Conference
on Legislation Concerning Veterans and Victims of War at Lisbon from 13 to
16 March 1994. The Conference was sponsored by the Government of Portugal and
was attended by representatives of 41 countries and observers from both the
United Nations and 15 additional countries. The Conference adopted a series of
recommendations, which included international cooperation in the field of
prosthetic and orthotic devices, on the situation and welfare of war-disabled
persons and their families, and on assistance to civilian victims of war.
47. Major upcoming events of international non-governmental organizations in
the disability field include the Assembly and Sixth European Regional Conference
of Rehabilitation International (Budapest, 4-9 September 1994); the Eleventh
World Congress of the International League of Societies for Persons with Mental
Handicap (New Delhi, 17-20 November 1994); the First World Assembly (and Fourth
World Congress) of Disabled Peoples’ International (Sydney, Australia,
1-11 December 1994); and the Twelfth World Congress of the World Federation of
the Deaf (Vienna, 6-15 July 1995).
48. The draft plan of action, entitled "Towards a society for all: Long-term
Strategy to Implement the World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons
to the Year 2000 and Beyond" is contained in the annex to the present document.
It is based upon the report of the United Nations Expert Meeting on the
Long-Term Strategy to Further Implementation of the World Programme of Action
concerning Disabled Persons to the Year 2000 and Beyond (Vancouver, Canada,
25-29 April 1992), 5/ the report of the Ad Hoc Working Group to Elaborate
Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for People with
Disabilities, 6/ views received from both Governments and non-governmental
organizations, and relevant developments during the period under review.
1/ WHO/HST/GSP/93.3.
2/ United Nations publication, Sales No. E.92.XIII.9.
3/ Ibid., Sales No. E.93.XVII.9.
4/ CES/AC.36/51; EURO/ICP/IIST/157/51.
5/ E/CN.5/1993/4.
6/ E/CN.5/1993/5.
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Towards a society for all: Long-term Strategy to Implement
the World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons
to the Year 2000 and Beyond
Paragraphs Page
I. INTRODUCTION ........................................... 1 - 2 15
II. PREAMBLE ............................................... 3 - 7 15
III. TOWARDS A SOCIETY FOR ALL .............................. 8 - 14 16
IV. STRATEGIC MEASURES ..................................... 15 - 35 17
A. National level ..................................... 18 - 23 17
1. Activities for lead-in period of 1995-1996 ..... 21 18
2. Measures for the medium-term 1997-2002 ......... 22 19
3. Perspective plan for 2002-2007 ................. 23 21
B. Regional and global support ........................ 24 - 27 21
1. Regional measures .............................. 25 - 26 21
2. Global measures ................................ 27 22
C. Monitoring and evaluation .......................... 28 - 35 22
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1. The Long-term Strategy to Implement the World Programme of Action
concerning Disabled Persons (the "Long-term Strategy") was developed at the end
of the United Nations Decade of Disabled Persons (1983-1992) through broad-based
consultations in accordance with General Assembly resolutions 45/91, 46/96 and
48/99 and Economic and Social Council resolution 1993/20.
2. The Long-term Strategy provides a framework for collaborative action in
implementing the World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons (the
"World Programme") (A/37/351/Add.1 and Add.1/Corr.1, annex, sect. VIII,
recommendation 1 (IV)), as well as the Standard Rules on the Equalization of
Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities (the "Standard Rules") (resolution
48/96, annex). It incorporates those national, regional and global measures
which proved successful and sustainable in the course of the Decade. It
envisages national medium-term plans as the leading edge of the Strategy. The
component elements of a national plan are suggested expecting, however, that
these will be adapted to national needs, resources and aspirations. The
Strategy’s guiding vision is the concept of a society for all. Its foundation
remains the three themes of the World Programme - prevention of disability,
rehabilitation and equalization of opportunities for disabled persons.
3. During the United Nations Decade of Disabled Persons (1983-1992), consensus
was reached on the need to remove the social and physical barriers that limit
the participation of individuals in society. It became clear that society
creates a handicap when it fails to accommodate the diversity of all its
4. People with disabilities often encounter attitudinal and environmental
barriers that prevent their full, equal and active participation in society.
These barriers impinge particularly on the well-being of persons with
intellectual, mental or multiple disabilities. They add to the disadvantage
customarily experienced by disabled persons belonging to such populations or
social groups as women, children, the elderly and refugees.
5. In developing countries, where 80 per cent of the disabled population live,
the widespread lack of basic necessities of life such as medical services,
education, training, employment and shelter is acutely experienced by disabled
6. The achievements of the Decade have been significant. They include a new
level of leadership by organizations of disabled persons; an increasing
willingness by civil society to adjust to the diversity of its members,
including those with disabilities; greater recognition by the international
community of the need to equalize opportunities for disabled persons, and
widespread agreement on the effectiveness of community-based rehabilitation with
disabled persons and their families actively involved in programme design,
implementation and evaluation.
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7. These and other achievements, as well as operational measures that proved
successful during the past decade, provide the springboard for the Long-term
Strategy. The Strategy, however, does not stand alone. It must be seen as an
integral part of the goals and programmes of the greater society, including in
the areas of sustainable development, technical cooperation, reduction of hunger
and malnutrition, protection of the environment and promotion of peace, human
rights, employment, shelter and functional literacy. It is in this broad
context that the challenges faced by disabled persons need to be continuingly
articulated and ultimately resolved.
8. In a society for all, the needs of all citizens constitute the basis for
planning and policy. The general system of society is made accessible to all.
By accommodating its structures and functioning to the needs of all, a society
mobilizes the potential of all its citizens and, consequently, strengthens its
developmental potential.
9. People with disabilities are a natural and integral part of society and, in
the interest of society as a whole, should have opportunities to contribute
their experience, talents and capabilities to national and international
10. The concept of a society for all, encompassing human diversity and the
development of all human potential, can be said to embody, in a single phrase,
the human rights instruments of the United Nations. Defining and translating
the human rights of disabled persons into specific measures and programmes
remains a major challenge. The recently adopted Standard Rules can help guide
public policy in the direction of ensuring the human rights of disabled persons.
11. The Standard Rules focus on the equalization of opportunities for disabled
persons, one of the three main themes of the World Programme of Action. Rules 5
to 12 directly address eight areas of equal participation (each area containing
a number of specific targets): accessibility, education, employment, income
maintenance and social security, family life and personal integrity, culture,
recreation and sports, and religion.
12. The concept and scope of rehabilitation, another major theme of the World
Programme, evolved during the Decade so that greater emphasis is now placed on
disabled persons and their families participating in the design, organization
and evaluation of rehabilitation services concerning them, particularly in
community-based rehabilitation. Rehabilitation encompasses counselling,
training in self-care, provision of aids and devices, specialized education,
vocational rehabilitation and others.
13. The third major theme of the World Programme, prevention of disabilities,
calls for all-encompassing strategies such as those needed to end war, famine
and malnutrition, as well as for quite specific programmes such as those needed
to control certain diseases or make the roads and workplace safe.
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14. The three themes of the World Programme, equalization of opportunities,
rehabilitation and prevention provide the intellectual foundations of the
strategy. During the Decade, efforts to equalize opportunities for disabled
persons gained particular momentum, which should be maintained in the coming
years, with special focus on the following three areas: human rights of
disabled persons; empowerment of persons with disabilities; and involvement of
disabled persons and their organizations as true partners in the development of
programmes, policies and projects concerning them.
15. Since not all the necessary changes can be implemented immediately or
simultaneously, a step-by-step approach is proposed, guided by the long-term
vision of a society for all.
16. The core element of the Long-term Strategy is a series of national plans
supported by regional and global activities.
17. After a lead-in period, 1995-1996, a medium-term national plan is proposed
for 1997-2002, coinciding with the quinquennial review of the World Programme.
A second plan for the years 2002-2007 would follow.
A. National level
18. A major effort will be required during the lead-in period of 1995-1996.
Proposed activities for the lead-in include establishing a task force, convening
a forum, organizing a national review, issuing a long-term policy statement and
adopting medium-term targets. The nature and scope of each of these steps will
be shaped by existing human and material resources, including by drawing on
innovation, ingenuity and the involvement of institutions of civil society.
19. After the lead-in period, a five-year plan is proposed from 1997 to 2002,
aiming to reach selected targets in that period. Operational measures that
proved effective during the Decade could help to ensure that the targets are
reached. Those measures are discussed below and include integrating disability
issues into national policies, setting standards, mobilizing resources,
decentralizing programme implementation, establishing partnerships,
strengthening organizations of disabled persons, strengthening national
coordinating committees and monitoring progress.
20. Success of the interim plans and overall Strategy rests upon government
commitment, leadership by disabled persons’ organizations, involvement of civil
society and, where possible, permanent structures for implementation and
monitoring. Setting well-defined and feasible targets will help all players to
act towards the same objectives. Keeping plans simple, flexible and
participatory from the outset will ensure their ongoing effectiveness.
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1. Activities for lead-in period of 1995-1996
21. The following activities are proposed for the lead-in years of 1995-1996:
(a) Establishing a task force. Members of the task force should include
representatives of the Government, of organizations of disabled persons, of
rehabilitation and prevention specialists, and of important segments of civil
society. Their principal task would be to prepare for a broad-based national
(b) Convening a forum. A broad-based national forum should be convened to
obtain input and long-term commitment to a national disability strategy. The
forum could review the national disability situation, formulate a long-term
policy statement and agree on medium-term targets. Participants could include
representatives of selected ministries, the national coordinating committee,
organizations of disabled persons, professionals, citizens groups, communities
and families. It could involve legislators, business persons, donors and
representatives of the United Nations agencies or bodies;
(c) Reviewing the situation. A review of existing policies and
programmes should be made or updated as the basis for determining priority needs
and resources. Needs and resources must be matched and translated into
operational terms in a set of medium-term targets;
(d) Formulating or updating a long-term policy statement. The policy
statement would form the conceptual framework of the Long-term Strategy, stating
overall objectives and essential principles;
(e) Setting medium-term targets. Targets are necessary for the medium
term since not all needs can be achieved at once. In setting targets, the
following points may be helpful:
(i) Targets should encompass the important issues raised in the World
Programme - human rights, equalization of opportunities,
rehabilitation and prevention. The World Programme and other United
Nations instruments provide a guide for setting rehabilitation and
prevention targets. The Standard Rules provide a source of targets in
the area of equalization of opportunities. Conventions, guidelines
and programmes both national and international are other sources of
(ii) Within these broad areas, some targets may focus directly on improving
the actual living conditions of disabled persons (for example, the
actual removal of physical barriers), while others may focus on
enabling infrastructure or measures (such as legislation leading
towards the eventual removal of physical barriers);
(iii) Targets may also be of a promotional nature, intended to generate
action that would be difficult to measure (for example, changing
attitudes of the general public), while others may lend themselves
more readily to measurement (for example, a precise increase in the
numbers of disabled persons working in the media);
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(iv) Once agreement is reached on what is to be achieved, it is important
to clarify who will be responsible, how and when;
(v) Variables and indicators for each target should be clearly identified
to assist in monitoring and evaluation, as discussed below in
chapter IV, section C;
(vi) Possible targets include the following:
a. Institutional/organizational: by 1997, a medium-term plan with a
menu of targets for the years 1997-2002 to be formulated;
b. Human rights: by 1998, plans to be formulated for
(a) implementing Convention 159 of the International Labour
Organization concerning employment of disabled persons; and
(b) applying the Convention on the Rights of the Child (resolution
44/25, annex) as it pertains to children with disabilities
(articles 23, 27 and 39);
c. Equalization of opportunities: by 1998, the Standard Rules to be
adopted in principle and certain rules selected for implementation
before 2002;
d. Rehabilitation: by 1999, community-based rehabilitation to be
established in __ rural areas (the number to be determined at
national level);
e. Prevention: by 2002, the causes of avoidable impairment that lead
to disability to be reduced by __ per cent (to be determined at
the national level), in keeping with the strategies of the World
Health Organization’s Global Strategy of Health for All and those
of IMPACT of the United Nations Development Programme.
2. Measures for the medium term 1997-2002
22. Experience gained during the Decade suggests that certain measures are
particularly effective. These are discussed briefly below:
(a) Designating a lead agency, which could establish high visibility for
the plan and ensure clear division of responsibilities among the many possible
players. The lead agency would, ideally, be a government ministry or agency at
the highest level;
(b) Strengthening national coordinating committees, which were very
effective during the International Year of Disabled Persons (1981). The
national coordinating committees should have a permanent structure with
membership comprising the concerned government ministries, organizations of
disabled persons, business and civil associations. As the name implies, the
Committee’s chief function could be coordination, but it should not preclude
setting standards, mobilizing resources, forming partnerships, implementing
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programmes and projects, and facilitating information exchange within and
between countries and between Governments and non-governmental organizations;
(c) Strengthening organizations of disabled persons, particularly their
resource base, organizational skills and participation in decision-making.
Governments may wish to consider providing those organizations with facilities,
equipment and an operational budget in view of the fact that they are expected
to be at the leading edge of change concerning the status of disabled persons
and the transformation of social values, attitudes and practices required in
achieving a society for all;
(d) Establishing partnerships, including among non-traditional partners.
Certain sectors can effect change and produce well-defined benefits. For
example, the media can influence values and attitudes. The business sector can
provide opportunities for work. Religious and civil sectors can facilitate
participation. Families and communities can provide a benign and encouraging
atmosphere. Health and social sector personnel can set up an enabling
environment. Sports and leisure organizations can broaden the experience of
participation for all concerned. "South-South" and "North-South" partnerships
or "twinning" between organizations could lead to effective innovations;
(e) Integrating disability issues into national policies pertaining to the
greater society. This should be done in a natural way at the planning stage of
all policies, programmes and projects in all countries. Such integration is
particularly important where resources are scarce, as in developing countries
and those in transition from central planning;
(f) Setting standards is an ongoing process pertaining to human rights,
life-style, services and products. Standards should seek to ensure that
patterns of behaviour and design of services and products are non-harmful over
time for all citizens. Standards can be set in legislation and policy
guidelines. Countries that already have comprehensive legislation may need to
focus on reaching the established standards by educating and persuading the
broad public, employers, service providers and others;
(g) Generating awareness of the lives, experiences, talents and
contributions of disabled persons in an integrated setting is important for
providing disabled persons with highly visible role models and for changing
negative stereotyping of disabled persons by the media where this happens;
(h) Mobilizing resources, which may go beyond monetary resources to
encompass, for example, such assets as family and community solidarity and
goodwill, teamwork and leadership skills, knowledge and technology (data banks,
manuals, etc.), infrastructure and organization, alliances and partnerships,
add-on possibilities to broad-based communal programmes and skills developed
within organizations of disabled persons, including for technical cooperation
and fund-raising;
(i) Decentralizing programme implementation, including responsibility and
resources, in order to ensure appropriateness of actions and to build up local
capabilities. The final choice of options should rest with end-users with, if
necessary, the assistance of a professional or guardian;
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(j) Monitoring and evaluating progress should be undertaken simultaneously
for both the medium-term plan and the Long-term Strategy, as discussed below in
chapter IV, section C. Monitoring of the medium-term plan could be guided by
the targets.
3. Perspective plan for 2002-2007
23. Building on the knowledge, experience and momentum generated during the
first medium-term plan and a critique of its achievements, a plan for the years
2002 to 2007 should aim to achieve more. Its targets could be bolder, moving
closer to the society for all, yet not losing sight of prevailing realities.
B. Regional and global support
24. Regional and international support can assist countries in becoming
self-sufficient, on setting standards, on facilitating exchange of information
and experience and on promoting, where applicable, participation of disabled
persons’ organizations in decision-making and of disabled persons in programme
1. Regional measures
25. Regional organizations are well positioned to facilitate the adaptation and
transfer of global approaches, standards and technology to the specific needs
and options of the region. During the United Nations Decade of Disabled
Persons, some regions were very active, others less so. Inaction has been
attributed to wars, political instability and economic constraints.
26. Within the Long-term Strategy, regional organizations are invited:
(a) To review their socio-economic policies, programmes and projects to
determine the extent to which they address the needs, rights and concerns of
people with disabilities;
(b) To develop a disability component in their socio-economic policies,
programmes and projects;
(c) To develop or update regional strategies concerning disability, in
consultation with organizations of disabled persons;
(d) To improve exchange of information and experience by organizing
conferences, workshops and task forces to address specific issues of disability,
including adaptation of the Standard Rules;
(e) To consider the feasibility of convening a broad-based regional forum
at which to develop or refine a regional long-term strategy with interim
five-year plans commencing with the years 1997-2002;
(f) To support national plans.
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2. Global measures
27. Global organizations can support regional and national initiatives for
reaching the society for all, guided by policies and programmes of the United
Nations system. Global policies should be continually refined on the basis of
regional and national experience. Specifically, international organizations are
(a) To support regional and national plans;
(b) To consult with organizations of disabled persons when developing or
revising a wide range of socio-economic policies, programmes and events such as
international conferences, special anniversaries or observances;
(c) To promote human rights, health, hygiene, food, education,
rehabilitation, employment and shelter for all, in keeping with their mandates;
(d) To integrate a well-defined disability component into their
socio-economic policies and programmes, including technical cooperation and
public information;
(e) To utilize the expertise of disabled persons among their
administrative and project staff;
(f) To improve exchange of information among international organizations
as well as between donors, policy-makers and implementing agencies;
(g) To produce instructive materials and information on successful
(h) To examine the feasibility of initiating a joint model project with
the aim of assisting a limited number of interested Governments in designing a
comprehensive disability policy that could be tested and, in time, serve as a
practical model for replication or adaptation in other countries;
(i) To review and revise plans and procedures every five years in order to
integrate in them disability issues and an active participation by disabled
C. Monitoring and evaluation
28. As is evident from the preceding sections, monitoring and evaluation of the
Long-term Strategy needs to be considered from two perspectives: national data
disaggregated in terms of geographical location, gender, socio-economic
characteristics or programmatic activity, and aggregated national-level data in
terms of regional or global measures.
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29. An essential first task is selection of variables and indicators of
performance in terms of achievements and obstacles encountered. Indicators
should be clear, unambiguous, accurate and explain variations in performance and
results. Monitoring indicators will focus on input delivery and use; evaluation
indicators focus on results attained and observed changes among intended
30. Monitoring should occur periodically and reports should coincide with
annual plan and budget reviews. This will provide an empirical basis for
assessing and instituting necessary adjustments in targets and activities.
Monitoring activities of the United Nations system, including the work of the
Special Rapporteur for the Standard Rules, represent important sources of
collateral input to monitoring the Long-term Strategy.
31. Evaluation findings should be produced so that they can coincide with
quinquennial reviews of implementation of the World Programme scheduled for
1997, 2002 and 2007. This will provide a sound basis for identification, review
and assessment of salient issues, trends and specific areas of need.
32. Organizations of people with disabilities should be appropriately involved
in identification of suitable measures of progress and obstacles, analysis of
findings and interpretation of results.
33. National-level monitoring is the core activity in the monitoring and
evaluation of the Long-term Strategy. This can be carried out either by a
specially designated body or organization, such as a national coordinating
committee on disability, or in connection with ongoing procedures to survey
national socio-economic trends. Monitoring reports should be organized as an
integral part of national assessments of socio-economic performance to ensure
that monitoring findings and recommendations are effectively reflected in
decisions taken on development policies, programmes and projects.
34. Regional-level monitoring would build upon national-level findings. A
number of regional bodies and organizations are concerned with disability
issues, which include the regional commissions of the United Nations, the
Council of Europe, the European Union, the League of Arab States, the
Organization of African Unity, the Organization of American States and the
Nordic Council. It is necessary to identify measures that are both consistent
among national settings and capable of aggregation at supranational level.
35. Monitoring of global instruments and conventions in the social and economic
fields can provide important contextual indicators for monitoring the Long-term
Strategy. Conversely, that process could also be used to integrate disability
concerns in mainstream development.