A declaration calling for the ratification of United Nations Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) was endorsed at the National Leadership Conference for Persons with Disabilities. Held at the National Institute for Special Education (NISE) from 12-14 Aug 2009, the conference was organized by Special Talent Exchange Program (STEP) in partnership with Telenor Pakistan’s flagship corporate initiative “Khuddar Pakistan.” The conference witnessed an unprecedented attendance of 50 Disabled Persons Organizations, key leaders from the disability rights movement, state officials, disability advisors, volunteers as well as Telenor Pakistan management.
Managing Director Pakistan Bait ul Maal, Zamurd Khan, Ex Director General Special Education Khalid Naeem, Country Director Sightsavers International Mr. Niazullah Khan, President STEP Atif Sheikh and Syed Hasnat Masood, Director Corporate Communications & Responsibility, Telenor Pakistan, termed the declaration a historic document because of the consensus behind it. The International panelists included Director of Japenese Society of Rehabilitation of Disabled persons, Masako Kuhira, Director International Foundation For Electoral Systems, Susan Palmer, Diasability advisor, Handicapped International, Virginia Robson and motivational speaker, Dr. Todd Shea.
Commenting on Telenor Pakistan’s support for the conference leading up to the declaration, Hasnat said: “Telenor Khuddar Pakistan is an initiative that promotes awareness, integration, and inclusion of persons with disabilities in the corporate sector as well as in the overall society. We are blessed with partners who are committed to consolidate grass-roots initiatives such as this declaration, which would hopefully help the rights movement of persons with disabilities in Pakistan. Only through a dignified acceptance of the rights of persons with disabilities, can we progress.”
The document titled “Islamabad Declaration on Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2009” was devised after panel discussions that spanned three full days and enjoyed active participation from the attending audience. The declaration urged the government to consider all Persons with Disabilities as full and responsible citizens of the country and to ensure that they enjoy the same rights, privileges, and opportunities as other citizens.
The declaration called upon the government to take necessary measures to ensure access to justice for persons with disabilities and reflect their issues in judicial policy, governance reforms and administrative structures. The declaration devised that this constituency of citizens of Pakistan also needs representation by persons with disabilities in the political arena. It was petitioned that a mechanism be developed for implementation of the 1981 ordinance on disabled persons and the 2002 policy on Disability and National Action Plan 2008, in addition to the cabinet decision of 8th June 2009 and Directives of President of Pakistan issued on 1st July 2009.
Civil society organizations were prompted in the declaration to include programs for persons with disabilities in their development agendas. It was suggested that they should work with electronic and print media to highlight and communicate issues of disability and generate awareness.
The corporate sector was asked to ensure employment according to the stipulations of the 1981 Ordinance of Disabled persons. It also endorsed accessible inclusion in employment environments and provision of assistive technologies. Most importantly, the declaration pressed upon persons with disabilities to educate and apprise themselves of existing laws and regulations relation to persons with disabilities.
Islamabad Declaration on Rights ofPersons withDisabilities 2009 (Download Here)