- March 26, 2018

To mark World Down Syndrome Day, the Permanent Missions of Brazil, Israel, the United Kingdom, to the United Nations, OHCHR and Down Syndrome International sponsored a side event in the framework of the 37th Session of the Human Rights Council, 21 March 2018, Palais des Nations, Geneva. The theme this year was “What I bring to my community: Enabling all persons with Down syndrome to speak up on how they can contribute and live fulfilling lives, fully included in the community.”

The International Disability Alliance supported this event with technical assistance.

Opening Remarks were made by Ambassador Maria Nazareth Farani Azevêdo, Permanent Representative of Brazil to the UN in Geneva and it was moderated by Pat Clarke, the president of the European Down Syndrome Association.

Mr. Clark welcomed the audience which included around 10 self-advocates, the OHCHR, as well as the Permanent Mission of Canada, Germany, Norway, Spain, India, Bolivia, Australia, Uruguay, the United States and civil society. 

Mr. Clark reminded the audience on the origin on how the 21st of March. This day was declared by the UN General Assembly, the World Down Syndrome Day by a resolution that Brazil presented in 2011. This motion was adopted by consensus and was cosponsored by 78 other UN Member States and is committed to adjust laws and public policies to promote the inclusion of persons with disabilities in society and recognize them as full individuals on an equal basis with others.

Professor Maria Soledad Cisternas, Special Envoy on Disability and Accessibility, talked about the importance of self-advocacy as one of the most important aspects to express the fulfillment of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Other self-advocates shared their experiences such as David Clarke from Ireland who spoke about the right of persons with Down Syndrome to vote. Damian Bright, self-advocate from Switzerland and an actor who works with children and whose goal is to make education more inclusive in Switzerland. Samuel de Carvalho, from Brazil works as a professional model and is also the Vice President of the federation of associations of Down Syndrome in Brazil. He fights for the rights of persons with disabilities to be implemented. He has also traveled to see different projects where people with Down Syndrome are involved. Sarah Gordy, a self-advocate from the United Kingdom, an international actress and active campaigner for the inclusion of persons with Down Syndrome in all areas of society.

Remarks were made by the Ambassador from Israel, Aviva Raz Shechter took the floor to mention the recognition of the inherent dignity and invaluable contributions to persons with intellectual disabilities as promoters of well-being and diversity.

The Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Miriam Shearman also gave a few words to mention that the UK will ensure that persons with disabilities, including persons with Down Syndrome are at the front and centre of their work.

Other self-advocates from the audience also took the floor. Such is the case of Malgorzata Jablonska from Poland; Viviane Rath, from Switzerland; David O'Brien who is also a self-advocate from Ireland; Pearl Luthy from New Zealand and Switzerland and an eleven-year-old advocate from China.

Additional statements were done by representatives of the Permanent Missions of Poland and Canada, and the International Disability Alliance who joined in congratulating the organizers and the celebration of World Down Syndrome Day. 

Download the Flyer of the event clicking on the link below:

World Down Syndrome Day 2018, Geneva (English, pptx, 551.89 KB)

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