While making the National Statement at the 9th meeting of State Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Permanent Representative Dr. Rohan Perera said that "The Government of Sri Lanka is of the firm conviction that Sri Lanka should uphold the rights of all people without leaving anyone behind. Ratification of this Convention by Sri Lanka also indicates its strong political commitment to the protecting and promoting of the rights of the disabled people in the country". This the first time that Sri Lanka participated at the CRPD meeting as a State Party.
Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
9th Meeting of State Parties
Statement by H.E. Dr. Rohan Perera
Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations
15 June 2016
At the outset, I would like to thank you and the members of the Bureau for convening the 9th meeting of State Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
This year’s theme “Implementing the 2030 development agenda for all persons with disabilities: leaving no one behind” is timely, as one of the key objectives of the new global development agenda which we have adopted last year, is to leave no one behind, including persons with disabilities.
As we all are aware, people with disabilities make up about 15 % per cent of the global population. Therefore, this group cannot be left out in our endeavors to achieve sustainable development.
The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), which entered into force in 2008, is a key international instrument on the question of disabilities. Sri Lanka was one of the first countries to sign the Convention in March 2007 when it was opened for signature. However, it took almost a decade for us to ratify the Convention, which we did a few months ago, on 08 February 2016. This time lag was necessary to ensure that we had the necessary legislative and administrative framework to give full effect to our obligations under the Convention.
The Government of Sri Lanka is of the firm conviction that Sri Lanka should uphold the rights of all people without leaving anyone behind. Ratification of this Convention by Sri Lanka also indicates its strong political commitment to the protecting and promoting of the rights of the disabled people in the country.
Article 12 of the Constitution of Sri Lanka provides that all persons are equal before the law and are entitled to equal protection of the Law. Sri Lanka first introduced laws to protect and assist people with disabilities, more than hundred years ago. One such example is the Widows and Orphans Pension Scheme under the Ordinance No. 13 of 1906 which grants financial assistance to persons with disabilities irrespective of age. ‘Protection of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, No. 28 of 1996’ is a comprehensive legislative document, which clearly lays out the rights of people with disabilities. Ratification of the CRPD has strengthened this existing legal framework.
The National Policy on Disabilities in Sri Lanka which was adopted in 2003, takes a broad and rights-based approach to disabilities. One example is its endorsement of compulsory education to all disabled children aged between 5 – 14 years.
The World Report on Disabilities identifies that disability prevalence rate in Sri Lanka is at 12.9%. Of the people with disabilities identified by this Census, 57.7 % were male and 42.3% female. Majority of them are experiencing impairment in leg functioning. Out of the disabled people, 25.12 % are suffering from ‘mental disabilities’
The long-drawn out conflict in Sri Lanka now behind us, fortunately has resulted in a significant scale of physical impairment and mental illnesses. Other significant causes of disability include malnutrition, accidents and communicable and non-communicable diseases.
Disability and poverty are inextricably inter-connected. In any community, people with disabilities are amongst the poorest and the most vulnerable. While men and women with disabilities both experience discrimination, and disadvantage women with disabilities typically face double discrimination on the grounds of both their gender and impairment. This gender perspective, therefore, needs to be borne in mind in our efforts to address the rights of persons with disabilities.
This is the reality that we need to understand when we are implementing the 2030 development agenda and trying to achieve specific goals and targets.
One way of facing the challenge of disability and poverty, is to empower the disabled persons with education and skills training opportunities that would enable them to gather necessary expertise in securing employment and contribute towards economic activities.
This year’s World Youth Skills Day celebration on 15th July to be co-hosted by Sri Lanka, will also give a special focus to the skills development of youths with disabilities.
At the same time, we also need to be mindful that the prevalence of disabilities increases with age. Statistics show that more than half of the disabled persons in the world are 55 years old or more. Therefore, innovative processes and strong social protection schemes are also needed to effectively address this issue.
Sri Lanka also believes that if the new global development agenda is to leave no one behind, it is imperative to promote accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels in the context of governance, which is a key component of development. Needless to say that political participation by all is a critical element in governance. This is a truism in terms of Persons with Disabilities as well. To highlight the importance of the political participation of Persons with Disabilities. The Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka, in collaboration with civil society organizations organized this morning a side event on how regional collaboration can lead to more effective implementation of Political Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the context of the 2030 Development Agenda, on the sidelines of the CRPD States Parties Meeting.
In conclusion, I would like to underline that Sri Lanka strongly believes that the inclusion of persons with disabilities in the implementation 2030 Development Agenda is central in achieving sustainable development.
Therefore, Sri Lanka stands committed to constructively engaging with all Member States and other stakeholders in our collective efforts to promote and protect the rights of persons with disabilities.