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Statement by H.E. Mr. Kasit Piromya, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand at the Opening of the Second Committee of UNESCAP, 19 October 2010, Bangkok

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Dr. Noeleen Heyzer, Under Secretary-General of the United Nations and the Executive Secretary of ESCAP,

 

Senator Monthian Buntan,

 

Distinguished delegates,

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

On behalf of the Royal Thai Government, I am very pleased to be here with you at the second session of the Committee on Social Development of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).

 

The Committee is very significant, as it shapes the social development agenda of ESCAP. This session has its particular significance as the preparatory body for the final review of the Second Asian and Pacific Decade of Disabled Persons, 2003-2012, which will take place in late 2012. We welcome the decision of the Government of the Republic of Korea to host this High-Level Final Review Meeting.

 

Thailand is aware of the key role of ESCAP in upholding the rights of persons with disabilities in the region. Since 1993, Thailand has actively supported two successive ?Asian and Pacific Decades of Disabled Persons?, according due attention to the Agenda for Action for the first Decade, and the Biwako Millennium Framework for Action and the Biwako Plus Five for the second Decade. We welcome the Report on the Expert Group Meeting-Cum-Stakeholder Consultation to Review the Implementation of the Biwako Millennium Framework for Action, held in Bangkok from 23-25 June 2010. So, Thailand and ESCAP share a strong commitment on this issue.

 

Distinguished delegates,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

In July 2008, Thailand ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Since then we have mobilized resources at all levels to ensure its effective implementation. Key pieces of legislation, namely the Persons with Disabilities Empowerment Act, the Persons with Disabilities' Quality of Life Promotion Act and the Persons with Disabilities Education Act, have been enacted during the past few years to serve as comprehensive rights-based laws for persons with disabilities.

 

Thailand?s commitment to the disability movement is demonstrated at the highest level. The Prime Minister chairs the National Committee for the Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities, which has the authority to formulate policies and regulations as stipulated by law to help strengthen and protect the rights of persons with disabilities. Among recent policy initiatives are: the Regulation on Disabilities Allowance, which requires that every registered person with a disability is entitled to a ?Disabilities Allowance? of 500 Baht per month;  the  Regulation on the Promotion of Education for Persons with Disabilities, which enables all persons with disabilities to receive compulsory education and higher up to university level free of charge; the Regulation on the Employment of Persons with Disabilities, which mandates public and private organizations to hire persons with disabilities in a ratio of 1 disabled person to every 100 regular employees; and most recently, the Regulation on the Sign Language Service, which enables deaf people to ask for the service 24 hours a day for medical and health services, job applications, lodging complaints or other services. 

 

Social protection mechanisms for persons with disabilities have also been implemented in various forms. Projects such as the Rehabilitation of Disabled Fund, the Community Learning Centers, the Community?Based Rehabilitation Programmes, the Independent Living Centers and the White Canes Project have been initiated to assist persons with disabilities to live independently and to become more involved in community activities. All these initiatives have been strengthened by the participation of a wide variety of stakeholders. Thailand has also benefited from the active leadership of persons with disabilities, such as Senator Monthian Buntan whose candidature has been presented to the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities for the term 2013-2016.

 

Distinguished delegates,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

As we approach the target year for the Millennium Development Goals in 2015, the world community came together to review progress at a high-level meeting at United Nations Headquarters last September, which I attended. We talked a lot about our commitments to meet the internationally agreed development goals in a sustainable manner. But we must not forget that persons with disabilities make up ten per cent of the world?s population and they are associated with twenty per cent of global poverty, according to the World Bank. Thus, the MDGs cannot be achieved if persons with disabilities are still left behind. Despite our achievement in terms of laws and policies, one of the key challenges we are facing is how to mainstream persons with disabilities in the MDGs processes. The Thai Government has exerted tremendous efforts to end poverty of, and to achieve education for, all persons with disabilities. But we have to work harder to promote and protect the rights and welfare of specific vulnerable groups, particularly women and children with disabilities. We have to help them to be free from all forms of violence and exploitation and to enable them to achieve human security and live with dignity, equality and healthy life in the society. This we are committed to do.

 

Distinguished delegates,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

Being here today enables us to see that sharing experiences can contribute to greater success at the country level and more effective regional collaboration. Thailand hopes that a New Regional Decade for persons with disabilities will be a decade in which regional and international cooperation to promote and protect the rights of disabled persons is significantly increased. As ESCAP member, Thailand stands ready to fully cooperate with governments, NGOs, public, private and international organizations to promote an inclusive, barrier-free and rights-based society for people with disabilities.

 

I wish you every success in your deliberations and thank you for your kind attention.

 

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