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ESCAP Report 1: The first report on the topic of disability in over a decade, adopted by consensus

The representatives of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) spent the last few days working diligently to ensure that this report on disability-inclusive sustainable development is thorough and represents the goals of the body. This is the first time in more than ten years that AMUN has addressed a topic relating to disability, which is significant but fairly representative of the international community’s neglect of persons with disabilities (PWD). Representatives Monica Martinez and Maggie Kleck of Mongolia explained that since the disabled community is so often neglected, it was quite difficult to research this topic and find precedent for the opinions of the countries they represent. This topic was also particularly difficult because there was also almost no precedent on how to organize the discussion or the report, which led to some contention at first. Acknowledging these challenges as well as the importance of the topic, Representatives Martinez and Kleck were glad that this topic was addressed first in order to have an adequate amount of time. Additionally, Representative Sai Ganti of Viet Nam emphasized the importance of changing the status of PWD from the bottom up, as it is not acceptable for them to remain second class citizens, and expressed enthusiasm that the representatives, particularly those of wealthier States, were able to agree. This report was adopted by consensus.

Turning to the content of the report, according to ESCAP, “development and infrastructure supporting the disability community in the Asia-Pacific region must be improved.” In order to advance the inclusion of persons with disabilities the Member States of ESCAP divided the work on this expansive topic between six committees: research, funding, education, employment, social systems and infrastructure. The body found that when it comes to research and data collection, it is important for PWD’s to be directly addressed in a way that ensures their comfort while being interviewed. The next issue, funding, is a difficult and complicated issue. Among the Member States there is a wide variety of gross domestic product and income levels, so not every state is able to provide resources at the same level. The funding for the projects suggested in the report will come largely from the Asian Development Bank, the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, and the Pacific Islands development bank. Additionally, economic support may come from non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and donations from sovereign states. According to Representative Ganti of Viet Nam, these decisions were made in order to minimize the effects of global politics and the influence of wealthier States. Making education accessible to PWD is unsurprisingly the main goal of the education committee. To accomplish this, the committee recommends comprehensive training for teachers as well as physical amenities for students, including transportation. An issue that overlaps between the education and social systems committees was the stigmatization and misinformation surrounding disability; education of the public and an updated definition of disability and disability-inclusion is necessary. The goal of the employment committee was to make suggestions to create a job market that is accessible to all people, including persons with disabilities. This can hopefully be achieved by encouraging the private sector to maintain a diverse labor pool, increasing awareness of PWD in the workforce, and increasing the availability of accessible careers. In the future, the body would like to see more research and work done on this topic as well as more persons with disabilities in government positions. 

The body did an excellent job of navigating the complexities of this topic and multiple members of the AMUN Secretariat are excited about the quality and comprehensiveness of the report.

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