National Statement of Finland at the 15th Conference of the States Parties to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on 15th June, 2022

Read the National Statement of Finland at the 15th Conference of the States Parties to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, delivered by H.E. Mr. Ville Skinnari, Minister for Development Cooperation and Foreign Trade of Finland, on 15th June, 2022.

Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Finland aligns itself with the statement of the European Union.

I would also like to thank Secretary-General Guterres for his powerful leadership in bringing the rights of persons with disabilities to the heart of the entire UN system.

Finland is a staunch supporter of the rights of persons with disabilities and stands in full support of the effective implementation of the CRPD and the UN Disability Inclusion Strategy. We also have the honour and the privilege to chair this Conference – for the second time – and to promote the rights of persons with disabilities also as a member of the Human Rights Council.

While the COVID pandemic has impacted us all, many persons with disabilities have already faced discrimination and vulnerability for a long time. Both the pandemic period and the Russian aggression against Ukraine have placed persons with disabilities in even more vulnerable situations than before. Rising food and energy prices are leading to particularly heavy consequences for low-income persons with disabilities around the world.

As we noted in the latest Conference of the States Parties, the rights and needs of persons with disabilities often remain unaddressed in contexts of armed conflicts and humanitarian emergencies. Therefore, we must step up our efforts to secure the necessary help and support to Ukrainian persons with disabilities, and to all persons with disabilities facing situations of crisis and armed conflict.

The COVID pandemic has seriously undermined the realization of the rights of persons with disabilities. According to a recent study conducted in Finland and 12 other OECD countries, new forms of services, such as remote services, were developed rapidly after the outbreak of the pandemic, and it was considered that communication in social policy responses to the pandemic even partly improved. On the other hand, the new forms of services did not work for everyone, and persons with disabilities faced problems in accessing communication and services. During the pandemic, loneliness and mental health problems of persons with disabilities increased and their social contacts decreased.

Mr. President,

In future contingency planning, the realization of rights of all, in particular persons with disabilities, should be placed at the center of efforts also in exceptional circumstances. Persons with disabilities must be involved throughout the cycle, from planning to implementation and monitoring. Equal access to the right to life and health, psychosocial well-being, access to necessary services and provision of information in accordance with the obligations of the UNCRPD are essential. In preparing for crises and different types of emergencies, inclusion and the application of accessible communication, as well as support for the psychosocial well-being of persons with disabilities have to be secured.

Finland is looking forward to continuing an open dialogue between Governments, UN entities, organisations of persons with disabilities and others, both in this Conference and elsewhere.

Thank you.