CHIANG MAI, 27 July 2016 – The 2nd Regional Dialogue on the Mainstreaming of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the ASEAN Community was held on 29 June to 1 July in Chiang Mai, Thailand.  The dialogue brought together varied stakeholders to discuss the rights of persons with disabilities and how to enhance their promotion and protection in the ASEAN Community.

This initiative seeks to implement the the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 as well as the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration in mainstreaming the rights of persons with disabilities across the three pillars of ASEAN . It is also timely since the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) has just become the third common International Human Rights Treaty to ASEAN, having been ratified by all 10 ASEAN Member States (AMS).

This dialogue builds upon the results of the first regional dialogue held in 2015. It focused on issues of health, education and employment affecting persons with disabilities. Representatives and experts from the AICHR and relevant ASEAN sectoral bodies, ASEAN Secretariat, Ministries dealing with the issue of persons with disabilities from AMS, UN/International Organizations, member of the CRPD Committee, Disabled People’s Organsations (DPOs) of all 10 AMS and National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) participated. It is noteworthy that all participants actively contributed in sharing their experiences, challenges and recommendations.

The Rapporteur of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities delivered the keynote. It was followed by a discussion on the ASEAN Community and its implication to the enjoyment of the rights of persons with disabilities. The dialogue provided a platform for sharing of good practices, challenges and opportunities on the relevant issues and highlighted the critical need to provide inclusive education and employment, as well as accessible health services for persons with disabilities in ASEAN.

The participants deliberated the way forward on the development of a regional action plan for mainstreaming the rights of persons with disabilities in ASEAN. They acknowledged that the dialogue had provided an avenue for exchange of ideas and inclusion of key stakeholders to discuss and strategise on ASEAN’s collective efforts to reduce barriers for persons with disabilities in the ASEAN Community.

This dialogue was led by the Representative of Thailand to the AICHR, H.E. Dr. Seree Nonthasoot, with the support of Japan-ASEAN Integration Fund (JAIF), the ASEAN-U.S. PROGRESS, UNICEF East Asia and the Pacific and the Asia-Pacific Development Center on Disability.

The third regional dialogue will be conducted in 2017 and is expected to garner final inputs from relevant stakeholders on the proposed regional action plan for possible submission to the ASEAN Summit.