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COSP12 / CRPD – Evento a Margine della 12a Sessione della Conferenza degli Stati Parte alla Convenzione sui Diritti delle Persone con Disabilita’, su “Ensuring inclusion of persons with disabilities in a changing world: the role of sports and culture”

Considerazioni introduttive dell’Ambasciatore Stefano Stefanile, Vice Rappresentante Permanente e Incaricato d’Affari a.i. dell’Italia presso le Nazioni Unite, all’Evento a margine della 12a Sessione della Conferenza degli Stati Parte alla Convenzione sui Diritti delle Persone con Disabilita’, su “Ensuring inclusion of persons with disabilities in a changing world: the role of sports and culture” —

Good afternoon to all of you,

Let me say, I’m particularly pleased to see this room full of people and let me start by thanking, the Missions of Belarus, Dominican Republic, Slovakia, and Qatar for having joined us in co-sponsoring this event. With Belarus and Qatar we worked in April on a side event in celebration of the World Autism Awareness Day and that proves that there is continuity in what we do and in what we believe in.

I also wish to thank DESA which is here represented by our moderator and also by the Assistant-Secretary-General Francesca Spatolisano for the kind cooperation in the realization of this event.

This meeting will focus on a theme, which is very dear to Italy, which is also the overarching theme of the Conference on the Rights of the Persons with Disabilities this year the full inclusion of persons with disabilities We will focus on persons with mental and intellectual disabilities, and on persons on the autism spectrum, and on their participation in social life through sports, cultural activities, specifically theatrical arts.

Article 30 of the Convention on the Rights of the Persons with Disabilities recognizes the participation of persons with disabilities in cultural life, recreational leisure and sport as a fundamental factor for the realization of their human rights.

As I said yesterday in our national statement to the CRPD Italy places the promotion and protection of the rights of persons with disabilities at the core of its foreign policy in the domain of human rights, and in this context we attach particular attention to mental and intellectual disabilities. In 1978 Italy passed the so-called “Legge Basaglia” that sanctioned the closure of psychiatric hospitals in Italy.

Since then, in Italy we really experienced a paradigm-switch: we passed from an approach which was basically based on medical care medical treatment to an approach based on participation and full respect of human rights. Mental and intellectual disabilities are particularly impairing as they affect in silence but in depth individuals and their families.

This morning I met with some of the NGOs that are in the room today and a delegation of parents and family members. I was really impressed and personally touched by their dedication, their dignity and their determination, in pursuing the full realization of the rights of their children. One of the challenges that persons with mental disabilities, and with disabilities in general, have to face is this irrational ‘social stigma’ and the correlated feeling of exclusion that comes from it This is where we believe that sports and theatrical arts can indeed play a decisive role.

This event will highlight the contribution of NGOs in this respect. We are happy to have brought here again at the UN, three NGOs which are very active in Italy in this field – Progetto Filippide, Teatro Patologico and Inter Campus. They work in different fields but they are equally outstanding in what they do on a daily basis, both nationally and internationally, for the inclusion of persons with disabilities. They have a record of participation in the CRPD and in other UN events. The Italian Mission is really proud to have them here with us and eager to continue this cooperation in the future. Without further ado, I thank all of you very much for being here and

I look forward to the discussion we are going to have.

Thank you.