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PH-Sponsored Side Event: Future Research on Disability and Development: towards the implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the SDGs

Wednesday, 13 June 2018
Hon. Commissioner Leah Tanodra- Armamento, Commission on Human Rights
Conference Room 4, UNHQ



Good afternoon.

I am to share with you about the Philippines’ experience in advancing the rights of persons with disabilities, particularly, in making sure that disability is an issue that is not left out in the development agenda.

Looking at the engagements of the Philippines on the issues of persons with disabilities will take us as far back as the 1980s before the establishment of the World Program of Action concerning Disabled Persons in 1982. Some of you in the room may not have been born yet, when the GA decided in 1976 to make 1981 as the International Year of Disabled Persons. Since then, we have grown wiser and decided that it is no longer accurate to use the term disabled persons but persons with disabilities.  The 1981 International Year of Disabled Persons focused on equalization of opportunities, rehabilitation, and prevention of disabilities, and for persons with disabilities to take part fully in the life and development of their societies. As a member of the Advisory Committee for the International Year of Disabled Persons, the Philippines actively participated in the development of the World Program of Action concerning disabled persons, the major outcome of the 1981 International Year of Disabled Persons.

In 1982, the Philippines tabled the resolution “Implementation of the World Program of Action concerning persons with disabilities” which was adopted as GA Resolution 37/53 which urged Member States to develop plans for the equalization of opportunities for persons with disabilities as well as for the prevention and rehabilitation of disabilities. It further requested the Secretary General to provide consultative services to member states concerning the design of national programs, to develop a practical check-list dealing with equalization opportunities, and to compile and distribute information on available technical and financial resources to assist developing countries in the prevention of disability, rehabilitation and the equalization of opportunities. “Prevention”, “rehabilitation” and “equalization of opportunities” were the big words of the 80s. The same is true during the UN Decade of Disabled Persons (1983 – 1992). In the mid-1990s, another key word was added to that – “integration”. Persons with disabilities are integrated into the life of nations. In order to make integration work, it was important to have timely and reliable data on disability-sensitive policies, program, planning and evaluation. It was necessary to develop practical statistical methodology for the collection and compilation of data on populations with disabilities.

In realizing the Millennium Development Goals or MDGs for persons with disabilities, data and statistics were also vital. Philippine-sponsored Resolution 62/127 noted the 650 million people with disabilities worldwide, majority are living in conditions of poverty and needing unified action to promote their full and effective participation in all aspects of development. Member States were encouraged to collect and analyze appropriate information, including statistical and research data that are disaggregated by age and sex on the situation of persons with disabilities.

The importance of data and statistics is likewise recognized in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, adopted on 13 December 2006, the first human rights treaty adopted in the 21st century Article 31 mandates to gather disability-related data to assist in the implementation of the Convention. It requires States Parties to comply with ethical principles and human rights norms in the collection of these data.

By 2010, there was a growing concern that persons with disabilities were often subject to multiple forms of discrimination and were still largely invisible in the implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the Millennium Development Goals. The lack of data and information on disability and the situation of persons with disabilities at the national levels contributed to this invisibility in official statistics, presenting an obstacle to achieving development planning and implementation that is inclusive of persons with disabilities.

In 2013, the Philippines initiated the organization of the High Level Meeting of the General Assembly on the realization of the MDGs and other internationally agreed development goals for persons with disabilities. We believe that the outcome document of this meeting made a significant contribution towards raising awareness of the importance of including disability in the Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs and the Agenda 2030.

The Philippines has been committed in making sure that disability is a cross-cutting global issue. We are aware, however, that there is, as has always been, a gap between policy and practice. Filling this gap will require evidence-based analyses so that disability becomes part of the implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the SDGs. It would be difficult to conduct full implementation without disability data, disability policy analyses and proper monitoring and evaluation.

In 2014, the Philippines and Tanzania co-sponsored the Resolution “Realizing the Millennium Development Goals and other internationally agreed development goals for persons with disabilities towards 2015 and beyond”, which was adopted by the UNGA as Resolution 69/142. This Resolution requested the Secretary General, in coordination with all relevant United Nations entities to compile and analyze national policies, programs, best practices, and available statistics regarding persons with disabilities, reflecting progress made in addressing the relevant internationally agreed development goals and the provisions of the Convention on the rights of Persons with Disabilities, to be submitted to the General Assembly in a flagship report in 2018.  

To achieve all development goals for persons with disabilities, it is crucial to have evidence-based data on the current situation of persons with disabilities. We believe that the UN Flagship Report on disability will serve as a good basis for the world in the promotion of crucial actions to mainstream disabilities in all aspects of development and to achieve all SDGs for persons with disabilities.

Thank you.