Needs of persons with disabilities "must play bigger role" in post-2015 agenda

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The needs of people with disabilities should play a bigger role in the UN's future development work, a top rights expert said on Monday. File Photo: UNICEF

The needs of people with disabilities should play a bigger role in the UN's future development work, a top rights expert said on Monday.

The comments came from Maria Soledad Cisternas Reyes, who heads the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which is meeting at the United Nations in Geneva.

The world body's new Sustainable Development Goals do take into account some of the needs of the disability agenda, Ms Reyes said, but more focus should be placed on reducing inequalities.

Maria Carlino has more.

The future rights of persons with disabilities took centre stage at the UN in Geneva on Monday as an expert committee prepared to examine existing disabilities legislation.

One of the key issues up for discussion is how much the disability agenda will feature in the UN's proposed Sustainable Development Goals, known as the SDGs.

These objectives – all 17 of them – will replace the Millennium Development Goals, and they're due to be adopted in September by the UN General Assembly.

Maria Soledad Cisternas Reyes, who heads the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, said the SDGs do address some of the practical requirements of disabled groups.

Among these are the need for accessible cities, transport and public spaces, Ms Reyes said.

But she emphasized how important it is to press for the inclusion of persons with disabilities in the post-2015 development agenda, and for the reduction of inequalities too.

From the UN's human rights office, OHCHR, James Heenan told the rights committee that the draft Sustainable Development Goals were "not perfect".

But he said that at their heart the goals did include the need to combat inequalities, discrimination and exclusion, and this included people with disabilities. 

Maria Carlino, United Nations.

Duration: 1’14″

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