Italy aligns itself with the comprehensive statement made by the European Union and wishes to add a few remarks in a national capacity on the protection and promotion of the rights of persons with disabilities.
There can be no sustainable development without the empowerment of persons with disabilities. Promoting their full and active participation in the economic, social and cultural development of societies is not only a moral imperative: it is also a smart choice. The United Nations Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities is the cornerstone of all actions for and with disabled persons. I would like to share some insights from our national experience.
When Italy ratified the Convention, it established a National Observatory on the status of persons with disabilities. The Observatory, chaired by the Ministry of Labor and Social Policies, consists of members of national and regional public administrations, as well as representatives of the social parties and the national federations of persons with disabilities. It was created also in fulfillment of the Convention’s function of providing monitoring, coordination between administrations, and sharing of policy priorities with representatives of persons with disabilities in a participatory perspective.
In terms of monitoring, the Observatory prepared the first Report on the implementation of the Convention, which was transmitted to the United Nations in November 2012. There was broad participation in the drafting of the Report, including first and foremost associations for the disabled. The Observatory’s working groups played a key role, coordinating with representatives of the national federations of persons with disabilities. Consequently, the Report gives a detailed picture of the policies and actions that Italy is deploying to honor its obligations under the Convention.
Italy is currently drafting its biennial action plan for the promotion of the rights and the integration of persons with disabilities. Here, too, the Observatory is a key actor, assuring the equal participation of members of the national, regional, and local public administrations, as well as representatives of labor unions, the social parties, and associations of disabled persons, in full compliance with the Convention.
Italy is committed to working constantly to foster cooperation between the various social and economic stakeholders so that persons with disabilities shall enjoy the same rights as all citizens, on an equal basis and in application of the general principles of equal opportunities for all.
The same approach characterizes the work of Italian Development Cooperation. One outstanding example of its approach is the Guidelines it adopted in 2010 to mainstream disability in its policies and activities. Implementation of these Guidelines is being promoted by a Working Group, which is drawing up the Action Plan to speed up the process, in cooperation with NGOs, Foundations, and Research Centres.
Italy looks forward to the High-Level Meeting of the General Assembly on Disability and Development next September. This meeting is an important step in defining the emerging development agenda. We are confident that – through a consultative process in which the organizations of persons with disabilities will participate fully – the meeting will provide concrete guidance to strengthen the linkage between disability and development. The goal is twofold: to ensure that development can benefit persons with disabilities, and to guarantee that persons with disability can contribute to the development of society.
Thank you, Madam Chairperson.