Barbados will soon be establishing a Committee on the Monitoring and Implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). The Committee will demonstrate Government???s commitment to including the disabled community in its development agenda.

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Maxine McClean, made this disclosure while addressing the United Nations High-level Meeting on the Realisation of the Millennium Development Goals and other Internationally Agreed Development Goals for Persons with Disabilities.

In her address on the topic: The Way Forward: A Disability-Inclusive Development Agenda before scores of officials in New York, recently, she said the multi-stakeholder partnership would comprise members from Government, civil society, the private sector and specialised interest groups.

Giving a synopsis of this island???s attempts to integrate the disabled community, the Foreign Minister said Barbados established the National Disabilities Unit in the late 1990???s and in 2002, the White Paper on Disabilities made provision to civil society organisations working on disability rights issues. She also pointed out that in 2005, a National Advisory Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was established.

Senator McClean also disclosed that Barbados ratified the CRPD in February this year, and this was ???the most recent demonstration of our commitment to create an inclusive accessible society???.

She added: ???Barbados, like other developing countries, face formidable challenges in achieving its development objectives. The ongoing impact of the financial and economic crises is profound and exacerbates an already insufficient national capacity. Efforts to mainstream disability in development policies cannot be separated from these realities.???

Senator McClean further stated: ???The policies implemented by Barbados since its independence have been predicated on the conviction that our people are our greatest resource. Decades of investment in free health care and free education, have resulted in a high level of human development [that is] recognised internationally. Barbados is working assiduously on a broader national agenda, particularly in the areas of inclusion and empowerment. Barbados will make its best effort to ensure that no person with disabilities is left behind.???

Turning her attention to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), she said these could not be achieved without incorporating the rights and perspective of the disabled community in the mainstream development agenda.

??????They experience disproportionately high rates of poverty and are more likely to be marginalised and excluded from education, employment, health care, support systems, recreation and the physical environment.

???The lack of accessibility is one of the key barriers to the full participation of persons with disabilities. Accessibility is both a means and a goal of inclusive and sustainable development and is essential to social integration and the full enjoyment of human rights,??? Senator McClean surmised.

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