With its commitment to achieve equality of opportunity and the full participation of American citizen, the United States of America today made disability inclusion part and parcel of its understanding of the full realization of human rights.
On her remarks to the USAID meeting on “From Policy to Action: Making Progress toward Disability Inclusion” in DC, Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Right Maria Otero underscored that for Secretary Clinton, and indeed for the Obama Administration, the word “inclusion” has taken on a new focus in US foreign policy.
She states that from women’s rights, to LGBT rights, to the rights of individuals with disabilities, US recognizes one vital truth: the United States cannot fully honor its commitment to human rights so long as any one group is left in the shadows of society.
“As Secretary Clinton has said, “All people everywhere have the right to live productive lives, free from discrimination and with equal access to opportunities.” -Ms. Otero
Over the past three and a half years, the US government has sought to advance that vision in every part of the world.
Ms. Otero noted that President Obama has asked the Senate to join 111 other countries and the EU by ratifying the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
In the United States, the US government has worked hard to achieve equality of opportunity and the full participation of our citizens.
“Though we are far from perfect, we do have important lessons and best practices to share with partner governments around the world.” -Ms. Otero
She states that the State Department’s greatest value is its network of embassies and diplomats around the world.
The United States has one of the world’s largest networks of professionals, all of whom are in their positions to promote American values, she stressed.
Whether they are engaging in a bilateral conversation with a partner government or contributing new language for a resolution in the Human Rights Council, US diplomats are poised to build political will for the promotion of human rights for all individuals, including those with disabilities, she cited.
“Through our embassies, we are talking to government officials about their laws and regulations and how they can better protect against discrimination towards persons with disabilities.” -Ms. Otero
The United States is engaging with the multinational companies and local enterprises to increase inclusive employment opportunities for youth and adults with disabilities.
The US government also is working with civil society advocates to ensure that they are up to date and informed on where the needs are greatest.
“We have also set visitor programs so that professionals and students can learn from the United States, and vice versa so we can learn from them.” -Ms. Otero
She cites that the 2012 Hours Against Hate campaign, started by our Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism and Special Representative to Muslim Communities, is officially affiliated with the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
“Also here in Washington, we are making sure our grant guidelines and procedures are inclusive of persons with disabilities as well as members of other vulnerable and minority groups.” -Ms. Otero
She cites that the Bureau for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor will now assign weighted criteria to evaluate how proposals support and empower persons with disabilities, as well as women, members of racial, ethnic and religious minorities, and LGBT people.
“No matter what tactic we are taking whether educating our diplomats about disability inclusion or bringing leaders like yourselves together, it all depends on a robust partnership with civil society.” -Ms. Otero
She stresses that inclusion is not just a goal, but a process as well.
United States International Council on Disabilities stressed that USAID-led disability initiatives are active in over 50 countries worldwide.
The United States welcomes discussion on the important role that international cooperation can play in support of national efforts to effectively implement the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
United States is working actively to ensure that inclusion of persons with disabilities is a central element of our policies and practices.
In addition, Secretary Clinton has asked US embassies to designate points of contact on disability issues charged with enhancing the U.S ability to facilitate international cooperation in the field.
US Department continues to expand the participation of persons with disabilities in international leadership and cultural exchange programs, facilitating the sharing of experiences across cultural contexts. The Department also continues to draw upon the expertise and experience of other federal agencies and the U.S. disability movement, in sharing lessons learned with counterparts in other countries.
USAID remains committed to the inclusion of persons with disabilities in the design and implementation of its programming. USAID’s policy on disability seeks to avoid discrimination against people with disabilities in programs which USAID funds, and to stimulate an engagement of host country counterparts, governments, implementing organizations and other donors in promoting equal opportunity for people with disabilities.
The USAID has adopted accessibility standards for any new or renovated construction project that it funds, in order to ensure access by persons with disabilities. USAID also supports the development and implementation of training for staff and its partners overseas. The agency is a leader in efforts to institutionalize inclusion in donor, foundation, and USG-partner organizations.
The United States remains committed to the full enjoyment of human rights by all persons with disabilities, and will continue to support effective implementation of the Convention through international cooperation activities.