UNICEF Representative Calls for Greater Inclusion in Society

St. Kitts, June 13, 2010 (SKNIS) – The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) Representative for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean Tom Olsen has called on regional territories to adopt a policy of inclusion for disabled persons and indigenous populations.

The comments were aired on this week’s edition of the SKNIS radio magazine Perspectives, which highlighted the outcomes of the UNICEF Mid Term Review meeting held at the St. Kitts Marriott Resort.

“It is time for the Caribbean to acknowledge and also ratify the protocols in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities,” Mr. Olsen said. “It is of paramount importance that we recognize that people living with disabilities, regardless of what challenges they do have, can make a significant contribution to the development of the society and the nation at large.”

The Convention is an international human rights instrument of the United Nations designed to protect the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities. Parties to the Convention are required to promote, protect, and ensure the full enjoyment of human rights by persons with disabilities and ensure that they enjoy full equality under the law.

“They are not, and I want to really stress that they are not a burden. … they are a significant positive resource,” Mr. Olsen remarked. … “As we move forward in creating a Caribbean fit for all children we cannot continue to exclude part of the population. It is not our right.”

“The Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on Human Rights is very clear on this matter. We must include all, we should not exclude anyone,” he declared.

The regional official noted that delegates encouraged UNICEF to champion and advance the cause of the disabled and other minority groups and Mr. Olsen declared that he was prepared to “run with the challenge.”

Target areas to be addressed include changing the culture, perception and mindset of the population.

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