Excellencies Ambassadors, Ladies and Gentlemen Distinguished National and International Guests,
Ms. Nanda KRAIRIKSH, Representative of the UN ESCAP,
Beloved Persons with Disabilities, Teachers and Students,
It is my pleasure to be here with Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen especially the disabled, teachers and students in the ceremony to declare our commitment to implement the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Asian and Pacific Decade of Persons with Disabilities 2013-2022, Incheon Strategy to “Make the Right Real” and the National Strategic Plan on Disabilities 2014-2018. This event is a good gathering opportunity to review the progress of our work relating to persons disabilities so that we can come up with new measures and direction to ensure the basic rights, opportunities and favourable condition for the persons with disabilities, a society that does not discriminate against persons with disabilities, and more importantly, to ensure that they can stand on equal footing in the society.
The main objective of this event is to underline our will and firm determination to continue to protect and promote the rights of persons with disabilities according to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities adopted on 20 December 2012, that came into effect in Cambodia on 19 January 2013, and to implement the Asia and Pacific Decade of Persons with Disabilities 2013-2022, and Incheon Strategy to “Make the Right Real”. This strategy is the first ever regional agreement to achieve disability-inclusive development and to draw a blueprint to enhance the living standard and the rights of around 650 million persons with disabilities in the Asia and Pacific region.
Taking this opportunity, I would like to commend the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation, concerned ministries/institutions, Persons with Disabilities Foundation, Disability Action Council, Cambodian Disabled People’ Organization, NGOs, and development partners for working together to achieve such great progress in our work relating to disability issues. In addition, I highly value all disability-related achievements, such as disability prevention programs, vaccination programs to prevent disease-related disabilities, the promotion of modern treatment techniques and physical therapy, the elimination of polio to reduce disability rate from birth, mine clearance and assistance to mine victims, the reinforcement of the Law on Land Traffic, dissemination of the Law on Land Traffic, prevention of and crackdown on violence in the society, and integration of persons with disabilities into the society and so on.
These achievements attest to our high attention on the prevention of disabilities, the rights of and support for persons with disabilities, work rehabilitation, inclusion of the persons with disabilities in socio-economic activities. Looking ahead, Cambodia is more than ready to work with UN ESCAP to mobilize support to implement the Asia and Pacific Decade of Persons with Disabilities 2013-2022 and Incheon Strategy to “Make the Right Real”. In addition, Cambodia has also prepared the National Strategic Plan on Disabilities 2014-2018, which integrate the disability issue into policy platform of the Royal Government of the new legislature of the National Assembly.
In the spirit raised above, on behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia, I would like to voice my full support all activities implemented in the Kingdom of Cambodia to address the basic needs of the persons with disabilities as stated in the Constitution, the Law on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of the Disabled to serve the benefit of all persons with disabilities from all races and nationals living in the Kingdom of Cambodia.
This work is not a new agenda for us, we started it immediately after 7 January 1979, the time we started to rebuild the country from bare hand in the face of all kinds of obstacles but the welfare of our people was our priority, especially persons with disabilities who are vulnerable during wartime. In addition, Cambodia has also rectified many international conventions such as the Ottawa Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction, Biwaco and Biwaco plus 5 Millennium Action Framework, Asia and Pacific Decade of Persons with Disabilities 2013-2022, Incheon Strategy to “Make the Right Real” and Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
These clearly reflect the firm will and determination of Cambodia to prevent disabilities and promote the rights and welfare of persons with disabilities because we are well aware that persons with disabilities suffer enough, physically and mentally, so we need to support and give them special treatment so that they can live in dignity as other human beings.
The Royal Government has set up national-level mechanisms and public institutions to coordinate and implement all disability-related works, such as the Disability Action Council, Persons with Disabilities Foundation, Administration for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to reinforce the implementation of the Law on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. These mechanisms have significantly contributed to protection of the basic rights, creation of opportunities and favourable condition for persons with disabilities, elimination of discrimination against them and their equal status in the society. In particular, Cambodia has managed to reduce the number of persons with disabilities, thanks to the termination of civil wars so new disabilities caused by those wars no longer exist, high economic growth, disability prevention programs, mine clearance, strengthening of traffic safety.
At the same time, thanks to special training courses for persons with disabilities and employment creation, they are now more able to compete in the labour market so that they can earn incomes to ensure the continuity of their ownership, freedom, dignity. Moreover, with regard to the public employment of persons with disabilities, a total number of 1,468 persons with disabilities worked in 32 governmental ministries/institutions in 2011-2012. In addition, persons with disabilities were given priority for the social land concession for housing, family businesses and agriculture. Particularly, the Royal Government has issued land titles and built houses for persons with disabilities at Taken Koh Sla Center, 317 Development Area in Kulen-Siemreap, and Phnom Chhat-Banteay Meanchey and so on.
Moreover, the Royal Government also provide work rehabilitation services at community level to provide education, work rehabilitation, health care services, vocational trainings to enhance their living standard, in particular, we have developed Braille and sign language and included those in the education curriculums, IT and media so that the blind and visually impaired and the deaf can keep themselves updated with latest news. Furthermore, children with disabilities have access to education without discrimination; wheelchair ramps have been built in a number of educational establishments; centers and schools support the living of children with blindness and deaf and enable them to continue their study till higher education level; and some persons with disabilities have become capable human resources in the society.
Truly, despite of the great achievements in terms of the welfare of persons with disabilities, there remain obstacles for them that must be addressed, such as the issue of social attitudes toward them, discrimination and contempt, and limited access to vocational training and so on.
In this spirit, to add to what we have been carrying out according to my previous recommendations, and to promote the implementation of this work, I would like to take this opportunity to provide a number of practical recommendations to use as a basis for the implementation and to share new perspectives as follows:
First: Continue strengthening and expanding measures that could prevent disability more effectively. To this end, It is necessary to maintain peace, promote socio-economic development, reduce vulnerability in the society, prevent violence in the society, reduce traffic and workplace accidents, strengthen healthcare system, speed up mine clearance and unexploded ordnances, strengthen work rehabilitation for persons with disabilities, and expand the education and dissemination of the prevention of disability.
Second: Continue strengthening the implementation of international treaties adopted by Cambodia relating to disabilities and the rights of persons with disabilities to prevent disabilities, promote the rights of persons with disabilities and integrate disabilities in all development sectors. In particular, the Disability Action Council must lead the implementation of the convention of the rights of persons with disabilities and other related treaties by working closely with concerned ministries, institutions, development partners, civil society.
Third: Continue implementing the law on the protection and promotion of the rights of persons with disabilities and other regulations effectively. Those laws and regulations will turn services for persons with disabilities from previously humanitarian work to social protection. The new model of services, i.e. social protection, is more sustainable than humanitarian model while their ownership spirit and ability will be strengthened, and the integration of persons with disabilities into the society will be smooth.
Fourth: Continue strengthening and expanding work rehabilitation and physical rehabilitation services in sustained manner by strengthening the cooperation with national and international organizations and development partners to mobilize resources to implement various programs and provide work rehabilitation and physical rehabilitation services in centers throughout the country. Taking this opportunity, I would like to thank International Veterans Organization, International Organization for Persons with Disabilities, Cambodia Trust Organization, International Red Cross Committee, AusAid, UNICEF, UNDP, Australia’s Red Cross, and World Health Organization for having been assisting the operation of the Center for the Rehabilitation of the Disabled and conducting feasibility study on the disability sector.
Fifth: Strengthen and expand the spirit of ownership of the disabled which is the key aspect of the sustained development for the disabled. In this regard, I would like to request all the disabled to continue strengthening your courage, hope and self-confidence using your remaining abilities to overcome all difficulties in order to build livelihoods with ownership and take part in the development of our nation.
Sixth: Encourage participation of the private sector such as factories, enterprises, and institutes in disability sector, either voluntarily or obligatory as mentioned in the law on the protection and promotion of the rights of the disabled and support the integration of the disabled by incorporating the issues of disability into entities’ action plan and create a favorable condition for them to integrate into the society at maximum possible level.
Seven: The Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation, the Disability Action Council, relevant ministries and institutions need to continue strengthening disability related work and the rehabilitation of the disabled to work at all levels effectively and sustainably, and to use it as the core for the implementation of national policy for the disabled and promote the implementation of law on the protection and promotion of the rights of the disabled and the Treaties on the rights of the disabled effectively. Specialized organizations and sub-national administrations at all levels, especially at the commune and district levels, also need to pay attention on the disability related work by incorporating the work into the action plans of your agencies and units and promote the implementation effectively.
Eighth: Continue preparing 5-year national strategy on disabilities 2014-2018 and preparing national policy on disability in order to be incorporated into the policy program of the Royal Government of the Fifth Legislature by regarding the disability sector as a priority in the policy agenda of the new Government. There needs to continue providing priority on the budget allocation for the social affairs, education, health, rural development, agriculture, aimed at making public services of all these sectors to be further enhanced and produce direct impacts on the development of the disabled.
Ninth: Continue strengthening the Disability Action Council to become a mechanism to coordinate the work of relevant ministries-institutions, and development partners, NGOs, civil society, private sector as set in the sub-decree on the functioning of the Disability Action Council. Besides, ministries-institutions, municipalities, and provinces need to establish respective working groups on disability action to support ministries-institutions, municipalities and provinces in the disability sector.
In the spirit of what I have raised above, I would like to call on Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, representatives from ministries-institutions, development partners, civil society organization, NGOs, private sector to pay high attention on the work relating to disability for the benefit of our society. I believe that this event will be fruitful for the disabled, especially increase the spirit of care and concern on the disability issues, the protection and promotion of the rights of the disabled, the incorporation of disability into the development at all level toward an inclusive society and to make the right real.
Finally, with the “Official Declaration of the Commitment to the Implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities of the United Nations, Asian and Pacific Decade of Persons with Disabilities, 2013 to 2022, Incheon Strategy “Make the Right Real” and “Continued National Strategic Plan on Disability 2014-2018”, May the above mentioned items achieve great success and I would like to wish Excellencies, Lok Chumteav, ladies and gentlemen, national and international guest, persons with disabilities, teachers, student the four gems of Buddhist blessing: Longevity, Nobility, Healthiness and Strength./.