Armenia Advances to Promote, Protect and Ensure the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Oct 20, 2016

YEREVAN, October 20, 2016 - Armenia hosted a groundbreaking international conference today, themed “A World without Barriers,” dedicated to the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) that brought together an impressive list of high level partners, marking commitment towards promoting, protecting and ensuring the rights of persons with disabilities. Organized by the Armenian Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs and the UN Partnership to Promote the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the two-day conference is supported by the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and USAID-funded Armenia Pension Reform Implementation Programme (PRIP).

The conference is expected to strengthen national consensus among policy-makers and practitioners on the implementation of the WHO International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF), which will influence the way how the country assesses disability and develops rehabilitation services for persons with disabilities. Participants will document national and international best practices in the implementation of UNCRPD, discuss ways to strengthen inter-sectoral cooperation in the country, define measures for social inclusion of people with disabilities and elimination of environmental barriers, and to better respond to the needs of children with disabilities in the framework of ongoing social reforms.

Children with disabilities are arguably the most vulnerable members of society as they depend on others to have their rights fulfilled. They are less likely to attend school, access medical services, or have their voices heard in society. Their disabilities also place them at a high risk of abuse and violence. Across the world, persons with disabilities generally have poorer health, lower education achievements, fewer economic opportunities and higher rates of poverty. This is largely due to the barriers they face in their everyday lives, rather than their disability.

Adopted on 13 December 2006, UNCRPD takes to a new height the international movement of protection of fundamental freedoms of persons with disabilities from viewing them as “objects” of charity, medical treatment and social protection towards viewing persons with disabilities as “subjects” with rights, who are capable of claiming those rights and making decisions for their lives based on their free and informed consent as well as being active members of society.

The Government of the Republic of Armenia has ratified the Convention in 2010, signifying its commitment to ensure that persons with disability enjoy universal human rights, fundamental freedoms, and equal opportunities to participate in political, economic and cultural life. On the 10th anniversary of the UNCRPD, the Government of Armenia declared 2016 as the Year of Equal Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities. Throughout 2016, supported by UN Partnership to Promote the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, government officials have worked to bring existing policies and legislation into greater compliance with the Convention. The conference will help to not only highlight Armenia’s achievements in this sphere but  with the support of a broad international network of experts also to chart a strategic direction for the work that is still left to be done.

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About “Improving access to services and participation of persons with disabilities on the conceptual framework of UNCRPD and ICF – Armenia” project: The project is funded by the United Nations Partnership on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and implemented by UN Agencies in Armenia in partnership with the Government of Armenia (Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, and Ministry of Education and Science). The goal of the project is to achieve a paradigm shift in the way disability is conceptualized, and assessed which has significant implications for the reform of services provided. It is doing so by supporting the transition to a disability assessment model based on the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health. The project also promotes needs assessment of services available for persons with disabilities targeting development of necessary services and provision of focused support to the benefit of persons with disabilities and their families in Armenia.

About UN PRPD: The United Nations Partnership on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNPRPD) is a unique collaborative effort that brings together the UN system, governments, disabled people’s organizations and the broader civil society to advance disability rights around the world. The UNPRPD supports the full implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities by facilitating coalition-building and capacity-development at country, regional and global level. In doing so, it leverages the comparative advantage of multiple stakeholders to contribute to the realization of a “society for all” in the 21st century.

The UN entities participating in the UNPRPD are the International Labour Organization (ILO), the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the United Nations Department for Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO). The UNPRPD also works closely with multiple civil society organizations including the International Disability Alliance (IDA) and the International Disability and Development Consortium (IDDC). For more information visit: www.mptf.undp.org/factsheet/fund/RPD00

About UNDP: UNDP partners with people at all levels of society to help build nations that can withstand crisis, and drive and sustain the kind of growth that improves the quality of life for everyone. On the ground in more than 170 countries and territories, we offer global perspective and local insight to help empower lives and build resilient nations UNDP in Armenia was established in March 1993, and supports the government in meeting its development priorities and the Sustainable Development Goals. For more information please visit: www.am.undp.org

About UNICEF: UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

For more information please visit www.unicef.org and follow us on www.facebook.com/UNICEFArmenia

USAID/PRIP The objective of the USAID Pension Reform Implementation Program (PRIP) is to help the GOAM build its human and institutional competence-based capacity to ensure the implementation of a new pension system. This project supports the larger goal of assisting the GOAM provide old-age income security in an environment that is fiscally sound and sustainable according to international standards and best practices. It also supports the country’s strategic plan to reduce poverty, strengthen social services institutions, and empower Armenian citizens to exercise their social protection rights and responsibilities. For more information please visit: www.prip.am