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Statement delivered by the Permanent Representative of Italy to the United Nations, Ambassador Sebastiano Cardi, at the General Debate of the 9th Session of the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Mr. Chairman,
Ladies and Gentlemen

I am very pleased today to address the IX Conference of State Parties to the CRPD in my second – and final – year as its Vice-President. It has been a honour for myself, the whole Mission and my Country to serve in the COSP Bureau with the clear objective to advance the rights, especially the human rights, of persons with disabilities. Remarkable progress has been achieved in these two years, not least with regard to the multiple and meaningful references to disabilities in the Agenda 2030. We leave it up the rest of the work to the next Bureau. To this regard, I wish to commend the work of the Chair of the Committee, Ambassador Oh Joon of the Republic of Korea. His painstaking commitment and true passion to render the COSP and the implementation of CRPD successful has inspired us all.

2016 marks a special year for the rights of persons with disabilities as we celebrate the 10th anniversary since the adoption of the CRPD by the UN General Assembly, an instrument held as crucial by my Country which, as some of may recall, already in the late ‘80s put forward draft outlines for an international convention on the elimination of discrimination against persons with disabilities, which then laid the basis for CRPD. The ground-breaking value of CRPD lies indeed in its human right-based approach that has finally – when talking of people with disabilities – put the individual at the centre of disability issues, according to a ‘person-based’ approach so dear to Italy as a cross-cutting approach. CRPD, in one word, has embodied a ‘paradigm shift’ with regard to disability. We are particularly pleased to see that this session will dedicate one of the thematic roundtables to mental and intellectual disabilities – which I will have the honour to chair –, an issue dealt with for the first time by COSP-CRPD.

Those disabilities can be highly impairing, they affect in silence but in depth the life of individuals who suffer from them. One of the features of mental disabilities is indeed the ‘social stigma’ sorrounding them, such that those people fear even of speaking about their disability, thus worsening their social exclusion and marginalisation. Promoting the rights of those people has to become a priority for the international community.

Mr. Chairman,

This year we bear an even greater responsibility as the link between disability and sustainable development has been made finally manifest by the Agenda 2030: the goal of “leaving no one behind” applies to no-one better than to persons with disabilities. The new 2030 Agenda has in fact changed the narrative and spurred focus on a “positive agenda” that places persons in the position of “agents of growth and development”.

Italy’s commitment to the promotion of the rights of persons with disabilities has been stepping up in the last months through, on the one hand, the activities of the Italian Development Cooperation and, on the other hand, the work of the Italian National Observatory. The second National Action Plan on disability will be presented at the 5th National Conference on Disability to be held in Florence in September. In this forum, civil society organizations 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 in all decision-making processes concerning issues relating to disability is crucial.

Mr. Chairman

I wish to conclude recalling what I have heard in the civil society forum held yesterday here at the UN, i. e. that promoting the rights of persons with disabilities should be nothing else than ‘common sense’.

I truly hope that the day when those rights are fully guaranteed will come soon.

I thank you, Mr. Chairman