“Disability-inclusive response to COVID-19 – Towards a better future for all”
A response to the Secretary-General’s Policy Brief
A Statement by 137 Member States and Observers
The COVID-19 pandemic represents a human crisis of unprecedented scale, seriously affecting health and disrupting the livelihood and overall wellbeing of people all over the world. It impacts human rights and exacerbates inequalities already in existence. Persons with disabilities have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, and we need to ensure that they are not left behind and discriminated against in the course of the COVID-19 response and recovery.
Many persons with disabilities are at higher risk of contracting the virus and developing severe complications or increased mortality for many reasons, including in some cases, pre-existing health conditions, or living in institutional settings.
Persons with disabilities have experienced greater attitudinal, environmental and institutional barriers and discrimination, exclusion from accessing health-care services and information, as well as faced serious disruption to their employment, education, and access to social protection and other support services. These may be exacerbated by multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination faced by women, children and older persons with disabilities and persons with disabilities in situations of risk and humanitarian emergencies.
In this regard, we welcome the release of the United Nations Secretary-General’s Policy Brief on “A Disability-Inclusive Response to COVID-19”(1) as well as other UN relevant guidance by the WHO(2) or OHCHR(3). We also acknowledge the initiatives by the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Special Envoy of the United Nations Secretary-General on Disability and Accessibility as well as by the Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities.
Disability-inclusive local, national and global responses require cooperation, investment and direct support from all stakeholders, including governments, the UN System, humanitarian actors, civil society, and representative organizations of persons with disabilities, as well as the private sector.
COVID-19 response and recovery should be disability-inclusive, protect the rights and needs of persons with disabilities and place them at the centre of all our efforts, as envisaged in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
It is fundamental to ensure the inclusion and access of persons with disabilities to health services, on an equal basis with others, including medicines, vaccines and medical equipment, as well as to social protection services and other support systems, including for independent living, such as personal assistance, sign language and tactile interpretation, and psychosocial support. Efforts should also aim at providing continued employment, education, as well as prevention from and response to violence. These actions should be provided during the immediate health and emergency responses, as well as development and recovery efforts in the longer term.
We highlight the importance of ensuring critical information throughout the response and recovery phases that is available in accessible formats, including accessible digital technology, sign language and captioning, relay services, text messages, easy-to-read and plain language.
Meaningful consultation and active participation of persons with disabilities and their representative organizations in all stages of the COVID-19 response and recovery is critical. Representative organizations can raise awareness of and advocate for the needs of persons with disabilities, and contribute to planning and implementation for building equal, inclusive, sustainable and resilient communities. This requires both mainstream and specific disability inclusive policy making in our social-economic response to improve outcomes for persons with disabilities, on an equal basis with others, and empower them in all aspects of life. Monitoring the impact of measures taken and collecting disability-disaggregated data are also key in this regard.
A disability-inclusive COVID-19 response and recovery will better serve everyone and prevent the gains made in the inclusion and rights of persons with disabilities from being lost. It will provide persons with disabilities with accessible and agile systems capable of responding to the pandemic. As every crisis can also become an opportunity, let us pave the way for a better future for all, where no one is left behind.
1. Albania 2. Andorra 3. Angola 4. Antigua and Barbuda 5. Argentina 6. Armenia 7. Australia 8. Austria 9. Azerbaijan 10. Barbados 11. Belgium 12. Belize 13. Bolivia 14. Bosnia and Herzegovina 15. Brazil 16. Bulgaria 17. Burkina Faso 18. Burundi 19. Cabo Verde 20. Cambodia 21. Canada 22. Chile 23. China 24. Colombia 25. Costa Rica 26. Côte d’Ivoire 27. Croatia 28. Cyprus 29. Czech Republic 30. Denmark 31. Djibouti 32. Dominica 33. Dominican Republic 34. Ecuador 35. El Salvador 36. Equatorial Guinea 37. Estonia 38. Fiji 39. Finland 40. France 41. Gambia 42. Georgia 43. Germany 44. Ghana 45. Greece 46. Grenada 47. Guatemala 48. Guinea 49. Guyana 50. Haiti 51. Honduras 52. Hungary 53. Iceland 54. India 55. Ireland 56. Israel 57. Italy 58. Jamaica 59. Japan 60. Jordan 61. Kazakhstan 62. Kenya 63. Latvia 64. Lebanon 65. Liberia 66. Liechtenstein 67. Lithuania 68. Luxembourg 69. Madagascar 70. Malawi 71. Malta 72. Marshall Islands 73. Mexico 74. Monaco 75. Mongolia 76. Montenegro 77. Morocco 78. Mozambique 79. Myanmar 80. Namibia 81. Nauru 82. Nepal 83. Netherlands 84. New Zealand 85. Niger 86. Nigeria 87. North Macedonia 88. Norway 89. Oman 90. Pakistan 91. Palau 92. Panama 93. Paraguay 94. Peru 95. Philippines 96. Poland 97. Portugal 98. Qatar 99. Republic of Korea 100. Republic of Moldova 101. Romania 102. Rwanda 103. Saint Kitts and Nevis 104. Saint Lucia 105. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 106. Samoa 107. San Marino 108. Serbia 109. Seychelles 110. Sierra Leone 111. Singapore 112. Slovakia 113. Slovenia 114. South Africa 115. South Sudan 116. Spain 117. Sri Lanka 118. Suriname 119. Sweden 120. Switzerland 121. Thailand 122. Tonga 123. Trinidad and Tobago 124. Tunisia 125. Turkey 126. Turkmenistan 127. Uganda 128. Ukraine 129. United Kingdom 130. United Republic of Tanzania 131. United States 132. Uruguay 133. Venezuela 134. Vietnam 135. Zimbabwe 136. European Union 137. State of Palestine
(1) SG Policy Brief on Persons with Disabilities
(2) WHO: Disability considerations during the COVID-19 outbreak”,
(3) Covid-19 And The Rights Of Persons With Disabilities: Guidance,