- October 3, 2013

Member Organizations:
Arab Organization of Persons with Disabilities, Disabled People’s International,
Down Syndrome International, European Disability Forum,
Inclusion International, International Federation of Hard of Hearing People,
Latin American Network of Non-Governmental Organizations of Persons with Disabilities
and their Families, Pacific Disability Forum, World Blind Union,
World Federation of the Deaf, World Federation of the DeafBlind,
World Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry

Press Release

International Disability Alliance Members Active Participants during
United Nations High-Level Week on Disability and Development

New York, 3 October 2013 – The inclusion of the rights of persons with disabilities in the Post-2015 Development Agenda was debated at the highest level of government during the opening of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly last week. It is the first time in UN history that the rights of persons with disabilities have been discussed within the framework of the UN political agenda. The International Disability Alliance (IDA) and its member organisations were well represented in a number of high-level meetings and side events throughout the week.

High-level dignitaries and civil society leaders gathered in New York between 23 – 25 September 2013 for the United Nations (UN) September 23 High-Level Meeting of the General Assembly on the realisation of the Millennium Development Goals and other internationally agreed development goals for persons with disabilities (23 September 2013), and the Special Event towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (25 September 2013). IDA members participated in these meetings and the many side-events held during the week.

In his statement at the opening of the High-Level Meeting, IDA chair Mr. Yannis Vardakastanis spoke on behalf of civil society, calling on decision-makers at the highest levels to recognise the importance of mainstreaming the rights of persons with disabilities in the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

“Persons with disabilities must stop being receivers of lower levels of education, of higher levels of unemployment; they must stop being victims to a system that lacks accessible transportation, healthcare and information services. The post-2015 development agenda must aim to take persons with disabilities out of lower income scales—poverty eradication for persons with disabilities must be fully prioritized,” he said.

In advance of the High-Level Meeting, IDA co-sponsored a high-level breakfast event with UNICEF and the Permanent Missions of Mexico and Australia to the United Nations. Mr. Vardakastanis spoke at the event alongside Mr Anthony Lake, Executive Director of UNICEF and Mr. Jose Antonio Meade Kuribreña, Minister of Foreign Affairs to the Government of Mexico. On 24 September 2013, IDA partnered with the UN Partnership to Promote the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN PRPD) in a panel discussion and reception on the launch of the UN PRPD publication “Towards an Inclusive and Accessible Future for All: Voices of Persons with Disabilities on the Post-2015 Development Framework”. IDA Acting Executive Director Mr. Vladimir Cuk spoke during the panel, and Mr. Vardakastanis launched the publication in the evening. Second vice-chair of IDA Mr. Colin Allen acted as Master of Ceremonies for the event in his capacity as President of the World Federation of the Deaf. Mr. Vardakastanis also presented a report titled “The ICT Opportunity for a Disability-Inclusive Development Framework”, at the Yale Club on 21 September 2013, at an event hosted by the Inter-Agency Support Group to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Following the Special Event on 25 September 2013, IDA, the International Disability and Development Consortium (IDDC) and the Permanent Mission of Norway to the United Nations co-sponsored a successful high-level event on the inclusion of persons with disabilities in the UN Development Agenda. Mr. Vardakastanis spoke in his capacity as chair of IDA alongside H.E. Ms. Inga Marte Thorkildsen, Norwegian Minister for Children, Equality, and Social Inclusion for Norway; Aimee Mullins, disability advocate and paralympian; Mr. Homi Kharas, Member of the UN High-Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda; H.E. Minister Kumari Selja, Indian Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment; and Ms. Risna Utami, Chair of the Indonesian National Consortium for Disability. During the reception, H.E. Ms. Gudrun Kopp, German Parliamentary State Secretary to the Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, presented the 2013 Manhattan Declaration, which stressed the importance of ensuring accessibility for and inclusion of persons with disabilities in all aspects of development.

IDA member organisations attending the High-Level Meeting and other events during the week included the Arab Organisation of Persons with Disabilities (AOPD), Disabled People’s International (DPI), Down Syndrome International (DSI), European Disability Forum (EDF), International Federation of Hard of Hearing People (IFHOH), Inclusion International (II), Latin American Network of Non-Governmental Organisations of Persons with Disabilities and their Families (RIADIS), Pacific Disability Forum (PDF), World Blind Union (WBU), World Federation of the Deaf (WFD), World Federation of the Deafblind (WFDB) and World Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry (WNUSP). In advance of the High-Level week, a declaration on the development and inclusion of persons with disabilities and their families by AOPD and RIADIS, and a statement on the human rights of persons with psychosocial disabilities in an inclusive development agenda by WNUSP were released.

IDA calls for a clear recognition of the human rights-based approach to development and rights of persons with disabilities in the post-2015 framework. This has been strongly supported by two very important reports released in 2013: the Secretary-General’s latest report (August 2013) and the report of the High-Level Panel on the Post 2015 Development Agenda (May 2013). Both documents call for disaggregation of data based on disability and the mainstreaming of persons with disabilities in the new development goals.

The International Disability Alliance is an alliance of eight global and four regional organisations of persons with disabilities. It is a membership-based organisation of persons with disabilities representing a unique and authoritative voice of the world’s largest and mostly overlooked minority group.

Geneva Office: 150 route de Ferney, PO Box 2100, CH 1211 Geneva 2, Switzerland
New York Office: 245 Park Avenue, 39th Floor, New York, NY 10167, United States
Contact email: info [at]
IDA Website:

Press Release in Word Version

See more by

Category: Archive, Press Release