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Statement delivered by Ambassador Inigo Lambertini, Deputy Permanent Representative of Italy to the United Nations, at the 54th Session of the Commission for Social Development on the “Review of relevant United Nations plans and programmes of action pertaining to the situations of social groups”

Mr. Chairman, Excellences, Ladies and Gentlemen

Italy aligns itself with the statement delivered by the representative of the European Union and wishes to add the following remarks in its national capacity.

While awaiting to deliver on Monday our statement on social development tout court and on this year priority theme, “Rethinking and strengthening social development in the contemporary world”, I shall make some remarks on the situation of social groups, which draws in depth my own attention and the one of my Country.

In fact, when we speak of social development and of its “person-centred” approach, of making improvements in the living conditions of the components of the society, of reducing inequalities and of creating inclusive societies, it is mainly to disadvantaged, marginalised and vulnerable groups that we referring to. Groups whose rights are sometimes trampled on, whose potential too often remains untapped, but whose contribution to the society is always precious, diverse, all-round – in one word – indispensable.

I am talking of disabled people, of youth, of family, of old people. Almost every and each one of us can spot himself as belonging to some of those categories.

I think of youth, that claims more space and role in our societies, asks for their voices to be listened to, and whose involvement in the decision-making process and in the nerve centres of our societies can, in my view, provide a fresher look at problems and today world’s key challenges, envisage more effective and more sustainable solutions. In this regard, the concept of “inter-generational” responsibility remains crucial.

Or I could think of old people, whose role in the society – far from being seen as a burden – has to be safeguarded and whose more active involvement has to be promoted, otherwise we end up losing a still very much quivering segment of our societies. Or I could think of families, that rightfully remain a cornerstone of today’s world, a safe nest, a formidable support, a launching platform for the future of our youth.

Nevertheless, Mr. Chairman,

please allow me to focus and spend a few more words on an issue on which Italy has been lately particularly involved – both as co-promoter of an ad-hoc resolution in the last III Committee session and as Vice-President of the Conference of the State Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) – disabled people. And I would like to recall that this year we are celebrating the 10th since the adoption of CRPD, which is – let us not forget – is not only about social development of persons with disabilities, but also and foremost their human rights. It embodies a ‘paradigm shift’ regarding disability.

We are much committed to promote the rights of persons with disabilities and enact implementation also at national level of CRPD. We believe, in this regard, that of special interest to us is the issue of the so-called “invisible”/mental disabilities that affect more people than one could think and really impair those persons’ possibility to enjoy a full and active life. It is an issue, in our view, that fits particularly well into the themes of CSocD and of social inclusion, as one of the features of mental disabilities is a kind of ‘social stigma’ sorrounding them, such that those people fear even of speaking about their disability, thus worsening their social exclusion and marginalisation.

Mr. Chairman,

I am pleased to recall that the Italian National Observatory on disability is actively working on the second National Action Plan on disability, which will be presented at the 5th National Conference on Disability to be held in Florence next September. Once again, civil society organizations, as full members of the body, are actively involved along the whole process, strongly bearing in mind that when we develop legislation and policies the constant involvement of persons with disabilities through their representative organizations, in all decision-making processes concerning issues relating to disability, is crucial.

Let us take the opportunity of this CSocD to reach the next level of our policy-making and to pass on from planning to implementation, from commitment to actual involvement, from words to facts.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.