Ladies and gentlemen,
I would like to join my voice in welcoming you all to this special occasion, and I express my thanks to OHCHR and the Permanent Missions of Argentina, Namibia and Mongolia for co-organizing this event.
Persons with mental and intellectual disabilities are among the most marginalized and excluded members of society. They often face various forms of social and cultural stigma and discrimination, as well as barriers to exercising their civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights.
As we will see in more detail during this afternoon’s plenary session, there are still many challenges on which we must continue to work, but there are also great opportunities – with the new 2030 Agenda – to fundamentally change the narrative and focus on a “positive agenda” that makes persons the “agents of growth and development”. The inclusion of the rights of persons with psychosocial disabilities in the 2030 Agenda, as highlighted by the World Health Organization, will have “a positive impact on communities and countries where millions of people will receive much needed support to exercise their rights.” It represents a turning point in the building of inclusive communities that meet the challenges of sustainable development.
With the new global development architecture now firmly in place – building on the Sendai Framework, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, the 2030 Agenda, and the most recent World Humanitarian Summit – it is particularly crucial to continue mainstreaming disability in all the ongoing UN implementation and follow-up processes.
The features of Italy’s expertise in this field will be presented by our expert, Ms. Teresa Di Fiandra, from the Italian Ministry of Health. I would like just to mention that since 1978 Italy has adopted a system placing the person at the center of our care, based on these values:
– The civil rights of mentally ill people must be fully recognized.
– Mental Hospitals must be gradually closed or used differently.
– The whole system of treatment should be based on a network of community oriented facilities.
– Compulsory treatments should be as limited as possible, both in number and in duration.
These core principles, consolidated over time, have become part of the architecture of the Italian public mental health system, consisting of a network of services in the community set up to meet the needs of persons with mental problems. All National Plans and Strategies have been designed according to the idea that every intervention should be tailored to the needs of the person, specifically addressing the situation of children, adults, older people, and other circumstances.
The Italian approach is in line with the most important recent international strategies. In addition, it has often been a source of inspiration in the international and European contexts, as a result of almost 40 years of experience in the areas of deinstitutionalization and community care.
This year, when we commemorate the 10th anniversary of the CRPD, we must renew our efforts to ensure effective protection of the rights of the most vulnerable, especially persons with psychosocial disabilities. Because while these disabilities may not be visible, they have a profound effect on the lives of individuals who suffer from them.