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The International Day of Persons with Disabilities
December 03, 2009
04:33 PM EDT
Today is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, and while the President himself gave his full support in a proclamation, I had the great pleasure and honor of accompanying Stevie Wonder at United Nations Headquarters on the occasion of his appointment as the 11th UN Messenger of Peace.
Stevie Wonder has a vision of a world in which every child can learn in their public school in the manner best for them; in which, upon graduation, they can apply for a job without fear of discrimination, and live and work independently in their communities if that's what they choose. The United States is pleased to work with the United Nations towards that goal.
Currently 650 million people—10 percent of the world's population—live with a disability. Discrimination against people with disabilities is not just simply unjust; it hinders economic development, it limits democracy, and corrodes societies. And it is holds us back from achieving a better, stronger, more equitable world.
In July of this year, I was deeply honored to be able to sign the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the first human rights convention of the 21st century, which urges equal protection and equal benefits under the law for all citizens, which rejects discrimination in all its forms, and calls for the full participation and inclusion in society of all persons with disabilities.
This was an important first step, but great challenges lie ahead. We have far more work to do. And we must never lose sight of our vision of a better world.
I look forward to working with Stevie in the months ahead as he carries the message of peace: signed, sealed and delivered.
Susan Rice is the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations