International Day of Disabled Persons – 3 December 2007

Observed for 15 years, the International Day of Disabled Persons, 3 December, aims to promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilize support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities. This year's IDDP focuses on the right of persons with disabilities to have a decent work, on an equal basis with others.

3 December is observed annually as the United Nations International Day of Disabled Persons (IDDP) since 1992. It provides opportunities for Governments, organizations of disabled persons and society as a whole to focus upon and take stock of the gains to be made from the inclusion of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life.

This year’s theme is based on the right of persons with disabilities to work on an equal basis with others. On this occasion, ILO offices both in Geneva and around the world will work together to raise the visibility of the barriers preventing persons with disabilities from full participation in the labour market and highlight efforts to overcome these barriers, focusing, in particular, on good practice and collaboration among key stakeholders—government, workers’ and employers’ groups, Disabled Persons Organizations and other NGOs.

A new ILO report: “The Right to Decent Work of Persons with Disabilities”

On the International Day of Disabled Persons, The ILO will launch a report entitled “The Right to Decent Work of Persons with Disabilities” by Dr Arthur O’Reilly”. The report has been translated into over 10 languages.

According to this new ILO report, The Right to Decent Work of Persons with Disabilities, although much has been accomplished in recent years to improve the lives of persons with disabilities, a majority continues to suffer violations of their rights. In the world of work, they tend to experience high unemployment, underemployment, have lower earnings than persons without disabilities and often drop out of the labour market completely. Yet, there is a growing awareness that people with disabilities represent enormous, untapped economic potential; that they can make a valuable contribution to national economies.

Over the following decades, important international instruments in relation to the right to work of persons with disabilities have been introduced. These have included several ILO instruments such as Convention No. 159 on the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment of Disabled Persons (1983), the Human Resources Development Recommendation No. 195 (2004) and the Code of Practice on Managing Disability in the Workplace (2001).

Another chief international instrument is the United Nations Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities adopted by the UN General Assembly in December 2006. It provides a platform to enable all stakeholders to move together forward in ensuring that persons with disabilities enjoy human rights on an equal basis with others. These principles of the new UN Convention are in line with relevant ILO standards, including ILO Convention No. 159.

Program and Events

On Monday, 3 December , the International Labour Organization is hosting for the first time in Geneva’s headquarters an event on “Decent Work for Persons with Disabilities” to mark the annual observance of the UN International Day of Disabled Persons.

ILO’s Employment Sector’s Disability Programme will be organizing a public panel presentation followed by a discussion

The discussion will include opening remarks by Ms. Patricia O’Donovan, Executive Director of the Management and Administration Sector/ILO; a special address by Ms. Kyung-wha Kang, Deputy High Commissioner, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and; a panel presentation by:

Mr. Marc F. Suter (Switzerland).
Mr. Suter is a lawyer and advocate for persons with disabilities. He is also a former member of the Swiss Federal Parliament. Currently, he is President of Integration Handicap in Zurich and serves as a Council Member of "Fondation Battenberg" in Bienne. Mr. Suter received the “Paraplegic of the Year Award” in 1998.

Ms. Marlee Matlin (USA).
Ms. Matlin is an Academy Award winning actress, having won the distinction for-Best Actress in her 1986 film debut Children of a Lesser God. She is also an author of three children’s books, including “Deaf Child Crossing” and most recently “Leading Ladies”. A video message by Ms. Matlin will be aired on the Day.

Mr. Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah (Ghana).
Mr. Yeboah is a disabled athlete and disability advocate. He serves as an athlete ambassador to Right to Play International, and is Founder of the Emmanuel Education Fund in Ghana.

Ms. Ellen Hansen.
Ms. Hansen is an ILO Employment Services specialist. Ms. Hansen is the Senior Employment Services Specialist in the ILO. Through her participation, she will provide an overview on jobs trends for persons with disabilities. Ms. Hansen has also been a major contributor to ILO publications on career guidance, labour market information systems, and the regulation of private employment agencies. Prior to joining the ILO in 1998, Ms. Hansen was an administrator in the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (state labour department) in the United States. She has also served on advisory committees at the national and state levels and has lectured on employment policies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Dr. Arthur O'Reilly (Ireland).
Dr. O’Reilly is author of "The Right to Decent Work of Persons with Disabilities". He is the former Assistant Director General of the Irish National Training and Employment Authority (FAS), former Chief Executive of the National Rehabilitation Board and National Disability Authority. He chairs the National Accreditation Committee, which oversees quality standards for training centres. Dr O’Reilly is past President of Rehabilitation International and a former Chairman of CEDEFOP, the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training. He has also worked as a consultant to the European Commission, OECD, UNIDO and the ILO.

Around the globe on International Day of Disabled Persons

ILO/Employment offices around the globe will be organizing the following events

In the Asia-Pacific Region, a Photo Competition under the theme “Decent Work for Persons with Disabilities” to raise awareness of the International Day of Disabled Persons.

In Zambia, a Photo Exhibit in addition to other outreach activities.

In Jordan, a regional workshop on the role of media in promoting the rights of persons with disabilities for decent work.

Other events that bring ILO constituents and Disabled Persons Organizations together for discussion on disability issues are also being planned for the Day.