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Human rights apply to everyone, regardless of characteristics such as gender, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or indeed disability.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is an ambitious global commitment to eradicate poverty, and to “Leave no one behind”. Norway is pleased that persons with disabilities are included in several of the sustainable development goals. We are now preparing our first report to the UN High-Level Political Forum on its implementation.
Norway supports efforts to develop relevant indicators and statistical methodologies for monitoring the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. Better knowledge of the challenges facing people with disabilities will enable improved policies and appropriate and targeted actions aimed at prevention, coping and curative actions.
Norway ratified UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2013. Our policies are consistent with the principles set out in the Convention. Last summer we presented our initial report to the CRPD Committee.
Persons with disabilities shall have equal opportunities for personal development, participation and self-realisation. The Government seeks to strengthen protection against discrimination and is currently preparing a draft of a Comprehensive Equality and Anti-Discrimination Act.
We seek to strengthen implementation of the Convention, not only in Norway but also through our international engagement. Persons with disabilities is a priority group in Norwegian development cooperation.
Education is one of the most effective means to break the vicious circle of discrimination and poverty. Last summer, in order to boost global efforts in education, Norway hosted an international summit on quality education for all. The needs of children and youth with disabilities were given special attention.
The Commission on the Status of Women in March underlined the importance of measures to protect and promote the rights of women and girls with disabilities. This includes ensuring their full and effective participation and inclusion in society, and addressing multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination. We would also have wanted to see more women on the CRPD committee, and encourage states to put forward women candidates.
Persons with disabilities face challenges linked to accessibility, attitudes and other social barriers. Recently, the Norwegian Government launched its third Action Plan on accessibility, focusing on ICT and welfare technologies. Communication technology does provide new opportunities for inclusion.
Unfortunately, new technology may also make people with disabilities more exposed to stigma, prejudice and discrimination. Hate speech in is a cause for deep concern, also in Norway. The Government has put forward a political declaration against hate speech, and is currently working on a strategy with detailed action points.
Furthermore, Norway’s new international strategy for Freedom of Expression and Independent Media focuses on awareness on disability issues. This includes the training of journalists and editors to cover the challenges for persons with disabilities, addressing historical and cultural patterns of shame, discrimination, marginalization and invisibility.
Underpinning this work is the strong conviction that the rights and freedoms of the individual, including the right to participation, are universal values that should always be respected, protected and promoted.