Representatives from Asia-Pacific countries met in Bangkok on 15 – 16 May 2013 at a meeting hosted by the Royal Thai Government in cooperation with the Australian Government, ESCAP, the World Bank and the Asia-Pacific Development Center on Disability (APCD) to promote the rights of persons with disabilities. This regional consultation under the theme “The Way Forward: Asia-Pacific Regional Consultation on a Disability-Inclusive Development Agenda towards 2015 and Beyond.” was organized as part of the preparation for the High-level Meeting of the United Nations General Assembly on the realization of the Millennium Development Goals and other internationally-agreed development goals for persons with disabilities to be held in New York, September 2013.
Over one hundred representatives of ESCAP member governments, civil society and the private sector, many of whom are persons with disabilities themselves, were present at the meeting. A notable aspect of the meeting was its accessibility to persons with various forms of disabilities, such as visual and hearing impairment. H.E. Mr. Santi Promphat, Minister of Social Development and Human Security; Mr. Shun-ichi, Murata, Deputy Executive Secretary and Officer in charge a.i. of the ESCAP Secretariat; H.E. Mr. James Wise, the Australian Ambassador to Thailand; and Ms. Julia Fraser the regional representative of the World Bank, delivered their statements at the opening ceremony.
The meeting also benefited from the views expressed by the participating international and Thai experts on the issues of disabilities, including Mr. Monthian Buntan, Thai Senator and member of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; Mr. Hyun-shik Kim, member of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities from the Republic of Korea; and, H.E. Mr. Libran Cabactulan, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the Philippines to the United Nations in New York, who will be a co-facilitator of the upcoming High-level Meeting in New York.
Participants thanked the Royal Thai Government for its commitment to promoting the rights of persons with disabilities. Moreover, the participants, who represent stakeholders from all sectors, exchanged views on ways to advance the rights of persons with disabilities at both the regional and international levels. In particular, the meeting recognized the significant contribution of the Incheon Strategy to the promotion and protection of the rights of persons with disabilities in the Asia-Pacific region. Moreover, the participants recognized the importance of disability-inclusive development, especially when disability was absent from the discussion on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The participants thus strongly urged Member States of the United Nations to include the issue of disability in the post-2015 development agenda. The meeting was also a good opportunity to discuss challenges on the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and to reiterate the importance of participation from civil society.
During the reception in honor of the meeting’s participants, Director-General of the Department of International Organizations presented Thailand’s report under the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process in the Thai Braille version. This publication would enhance accessibility and engage the visually impaired in Thailand’s UPR process.