NEWS: Asian Recommendations on the Intellectually Disabled

Posted on 3 November 2007. Filed under: Announcements, Cognitive Impairments, East Asia Pacific Region, News | Tags: , , , , |

UNESCAP News Services
Date 15 October 2007
Press Release No. G/47/2007

First Regional Recommendations on the Intellectually Disabled Adopted

Bangkok (United Nations Information Services) — A United Nations sponsored meeting has made recommendations on ways to empower persons with intellectual disabilities and their families in Asia and the Pacific. A first in the region, the Shanghai Recommendations were adopted at a workshop organized by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) and the China Disabled Persons’ Federations (CDPF) which took place from 11 to 13 October in the Chinese city.

The meeting brought together people with intellectual disabilities, their families, experts and policymakers from China, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of China, India, Japan, Malaysia, Myanmar, New Zealand, the Philippines, Thailand and Viet Nam. The participants also attended the closing ceremony of the Special Olympics in the evening of 11 October.

“Many people think that we intellectually disabled persons cannot do anything”, said one participant, Robert Martin from New Zealand. “What we want is not pity, but empathy.”

“I have a dream”, said another participant with intellectual disabilities, Ms. Mayumi Narasaki from Japan. “I want to study at the university; want to be friends with a lot of people and want to be a professor of law so that I can explain laws to persons with intellectual disabilities in an easy-to-understand manner.”

“Voicing their concerns themselves at a UN forum provides them with a sense of legitimacy and confidence, which they have been often denied to have”, said Aiko Akiyama of UNESCAP, one of the organizers of the meeting.

Persons with intellectual disabilities face prejudice, discrimination, abuse and various barriers to enjoying equal legal protection. They are also denied access to quality and affordable health cares, education, training that leads to gainful employment, living as part of a community, enjoying family life, and an adequate standard of living.

Due to stigma and a lack of social support in the region, care for persons with intellectual disabilities is usually left entirely to their families, often causing financial and emotional stress. Many care-givers are worried about what would happen to their children or siblings with intellectual disabilities after they themselves become old or die.

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), adopted by the UN last December, supports the realization of rights by persons with all disabilities, and affirms supported-decision making instead of substitute decision-making by persons with intellectual disabilities. As of early November 2007, 118 countries have signed the CRPD and 7 countries have ratified it.

The Shanghai Recommendations on the Empowerment of Persons with Intellectual Disabilities will have a user-friendly version for persons with intellectual disabilities. The Recommendations thank China for hosting the UNESCAP Regional conference; recognizes the signifance of international and regional documents on disabilities, including the CRPD; and recognizes the progress made by governments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to improve the status of persons with intellectual disabilities persons. However, the Recommendations also note that people with intellectual disabilities are more likely to face prejudice, discrimination, abuse, human rights violations, and barriers to the services they and their families need.

It calls on governments to sign, ratify, and implement the CRPD. Furthermore, the recommendations calls for governments, NGOs, the private sector, and international organizations to take a series of actions including to support self-advocacy efforts among people with intellectual disabilities; ensure their participation in decision-making that affects them; promote the employment of people with intellectual disabilities; and more.

The full text of the Shanghai Recommendations is posted at

For more information, please contact Aiko Akiyama, Social Affairs Officer, UNESCAP, email:, Tel +66-2-288-2315

* *** *
Headquartered in Bangkok, UNESCAP is the largest of the UN’s five Regional Commissions in terms of its membership, population served and area covered. The only inter-governmental forum covering the entire Asia-Pacific region, UNESCAP works to promote economic and social progress. More information on UNESCAP is available from

The original version of this press release is posted at; We Can Do has made modifications to link to the CRPD text and indicate the current number of signatories and ratifications; and to summarize the recommendations.

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