I have the honour to make this statement on behalf of Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
Two and a half years on from the entry into force of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, this core international human rights treaty has 147 signatories and 95 ratifications making the Convention the most quickly embraced Convention in the history of international human rights. However, our work is far from over and we call on all those states which have not yet ratified the Convention to do so as a matter of priority and for all states to fully implement the Convention.
In the year that the summit on the Millennium Development Goals brought states together to discuss their progress with regard to the MDGs, we would like to take this opportunity to focus on Article 32 of the Convention. Worldwide, there are around 650 million persons with disabilities, yet 80 per cent of them live in developing countries. In developed countries, persons with disabilities are, on average, poorer than those without disabilities. Furthermore, the World Bank estimates the annual loss of GDP globally, due to persons with disabilities and family members being excluded from economic income activities, at between 5.35 per cent and 6.97 per cent of total global GDP. These figures alone show that persons with disabilities represent a significantly overlooked development challenge and opportunity; and Article 32 provides a platform for that development.
We were pleased to see appropriate recognition of the needs of persons with disabilities in the MDG Summit Outcome Document. We take this opportunity to highlight the need to produce disability disaggregated data to support the planning and the monitoring of efforts to make MDG-related policies and programmes inclusive and accessible for persons with disabilities. We also welcome Human Rights Council resolution A/HRC/RES/13/11 which requests the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare a study to enhance awareness of the role played by international cooperation in support of national efforts for the realization of the purpose and objectives of the Convention. It is our hope that the Convention will spur the further mainstreaming of disability throughout the development agenda.
Canada, Australia and New Zealand wish to reaffirm their ongoing strong support for the rights of persons with disabilities, and for the Convention. Canada was extremely pleased to have ratified the Convention earlier this year. Having chaired the negotiations on the Convention to adoption, New Zealand has enjoyed the opportunity to represent WEOG on the bureau of the Conference of States Parties, and looks forward to again running the resolution on the Convention jointly with Mexico at next year's General Assembly and in the Human Rights Council.
Canada, Australia and New Zealand are very pleased that Australia's candidate to the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Professor Ronald McCallum, was elected by an absolute majority in the first round of voting to the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, this time to serve a four year term. Professor McCallum is the current Chair of the Committee and is regarded highly by those on the Committee, DPOs, NGOs and member states.
We look forward to the Committee beginning its respective dialogues with those states that have presented their treaty body reports. Consideration of these early reports will pave the way for the future work of the Committee in tackling emerging issues affecting persons with disabilities.
In a year where the world has seen too many natural disasters, we welcome the adoption by the Inter-Agency Support Group for the Convention and the United Nations Development Group of the guidance note for UN country teams and implementing partners and we encourage its wide dissemination among all country offices of UN agencies, programmes and funds. In line with Article 11 of the Convention, we highlight the urgent need to revise the policies, programmes and standards that the UN, States and NGOs apply in the areas of emergency relief and reconstruction as well as disaster preparedness, in order to ensure that the rights of all persons, including persons with disabilities are fully considered. On behalf of the Conference Bureau, New Zealand was pleased to co-chair the informal session on persons with disabilities in situations of risk and humanitarian emergencies.
Madam Chair, Canada, Australia and New Zealand will continue to play their part to enable the realisation of the rights of persons with disabilities, wherever they may be.