10th Meeting of the Conference of State Parties to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Statement by His Excellency Mr. Ahmed Sareer, Permanent Representative of Maldives to the UN

United Nations, New York, 15 June 2017

Thank you Mr. President,

Let me begin by congratulating you Mr. President and your bureau on your election.

Today's theme is highly relevant in the context of our efforts to make the development processes – and especially the 2030 Agenda – inclusive, by leaving no one behind.

Mr. President,

The realization of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all persons with disabilities, and their full and effective participation and inclusion in society, is a high priority for the Maldives. It is for this reason that immediately after ratifying the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2010, the Maldives enacted a Disability Act in the same year, thereby integrating the articles of the Convention into broader national policy agenda. The Maldives Disability Council was subsequently established and was entrusted with the responsibility of compiling and updating a national database on persons with disabilities and for overseeing monitoring centers and formulating guidelines for their effective operation.

Mr. President,

The world has made much strides in its recognition of disability concerns over the years. When the MDG's were first negotiated, it failed to reference persons with disabilities. The 2030 Agenda in contrast explicitly includes persons with disabilities in five Goals and seven targets, thus presenting a great opportunity to advance disability-responsive development.

Today, everyone understands that policies that are inclusive of persons with disabilities are a sound investment in the society as a whole, and that excluding them from development programs has economic and social costs that we can no longer ignore. The Government of Maldives has placed particular emphasis to ensure that people with disabilities have access to education, health and employment opportunities free of discrimination. To this end, the Government's "No Child Left Behind" education policy focuses on inclusivity and equal opportunity. The Government's Universal Health Care Coverage program also ensures that people with disabilities have equal access to health without any obstacles.

One of our foremost priorities has been to ensure that all people have the opportunity for employment, devoid of discrimination. The Government of Maldives has introduced key programs to support people with disabilities into employment, with the aim of ensuring that people with disabilities are able to fully participate economically.  Earlier this year, the Government has initiated an Employment program for persons with disabilities, and has since then provided employment opportunities to a number of persons with disabilities in several state owned companies.

Mr. President,

All over the world, persons with disabilities experience exclusion owing to multiple forms of discrimination and experience vulnerabilities in a heightened manner compared to the general population. For example, evidence suggest that women and girls with disabilities experience violence at a rate that is up to 3 times higher than that of their peers without disabilities, and they are up to 10 times more likely to experience sexual violence.  It is therefore critical to address the impact of multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination for persons with disabilities through a cross-sectoral, multi-stakeholder approach with active mobilization of a broad range of stakeholders.

Mr. President,

In closing, let me reiterate our country's unswerving and wholehearted commitment to realizing the fundamental rights and freedoms of all persons with disabilities. Let me also reiterate our resolve to achieve these aims through measures taken at all levels: grassroots civil society initiatives, national institutions and legislation, regional organizations, and United Nations agencies.

I thank you.