January 25, 2022

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 On the International Day of Persons with Disabilities

11 min read

Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State

On December 3 International Day of Persons with Disabilities, the United States remains steadfast in our commitment and resolve to advance the human rights of persons with disabilities at home and around the world.  We urge foreign governments to engage persons with disabilities in the democratic process, to combat discrimination and abuse, counter prejudice, and to protect their rights and ensure their inclusion in all facets of life on an equal basis with other people.

Around the world, policies related to elections and civic engagement are not fully inclusive for persons with disabilities.  Given the more than one billion persons living with disabilities globally, this widespread inaccessibility is an enormous and untenable disenfranchisement.  This Administration recognizes the values, talents, and contributions that persons with disabilities bring to the global community.  That is why President Biden appointed Sara Minkara to serve as U.S. Special Advisor on International Disability Rights – a role critical to ensuring disability-inclusive U.S. diplomacy and foreign assistance.  Our colleagues around the world with disabilities – Civil and Foreign Service, contractors, eligible family members, and locally employed staff – make us stronger.  They bring creativity to our efforts to resolve entrenched problems and draw on their lived experiences to inform and strengthen our policies to promote accessibility and inclusion.

The United States strives to be a model for diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility, to reflect one of our most fundamental values as a nation:  That everyone is treated with dignity and respect.  At the State Department, we endeavor to uphold these values every day, ensuring that our colleagues with disabilities thrive in the workplace.  As part of the Summit for Democracy and in celebration of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, we demonstrate this approach by convening leaders from all sectors of society and representing democracies around the world to identify innovative approaches and actions that promote disability-inclusive democracy.  We know the best, most durable, and lasting solutions arise when governments embrace, respect, and integrate diverse perspectives from all communities, including persons with disabilities.

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