HRC40 Annual Day on the Rights of the Child: Empowering children with disabilities
“Empowerment is both the means and the end-product of respecting and realizing human rights.” stated High Commissioner Bachelet on this year’s Annual Day on the Rights of the Child, which took place on the 4th of March, during the 40th session of the Human Rights Council. This year’s Annual Day focused on the empowerment of children with disabilities for the enjoyment of their human rights, including through inclusive education.
The day opened with statements from President of the HRC Coly Seck, High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet and Uruguayan Ambassador Ricardo González Arenas. Bachelet highlighted the importance of children’s voices being heard and their participation in their communities. The panellists were Jorge Cardona, Member of the CRC Committee, Catalina Devandas Aguilar, SR on the rights of persons with disabilities and Dumitrita Cropivnitchi, Lumos Children’s Rights Advocate.
It was emphasised that children with disabilities are first and foremost children and are rights holders, that the achievement of their rights is the basis for their empowerment and that they must enjoy the right to be heard, by being involved in decisions that affect them. Furthermore, it was noted that inclusion does not simply mean to be involved, but that there must be a social change whereby children with disabilities are integrated in all aspects of society.
The afternoon panel was chaired by HRC Vice-President Vesna Batistic Kos, moderated by EU ambassador Walter Stevens and included María Soledad Cisternas Reyes, Special Envoy of the SG on Disability and Accessibility, Afshan Khan, UNICEF, and Bushra Zulfiqar, Save the Children Bangladesh.
It was emphasised the need to shift to a human rights-based approach, the structural and social barriers faced by children with disabilities were highlighted and UNICEF’s 10 principles of good treatment of children with disabilities were shared, as were various best practices.
Child Rights Connect delivered a statement, co-signed by 19 CSOs, calling for the empowerment of children with disabilities and recommending child rights-based steps for the UN and Member States. Throughout the day States shared practices for the improvement of the right of children with disabilities from their countries. You can re-watch the morning session here and read OHCHR’s press release here. Re-watch the afternoon session here and read OHCHR’s press release here.