His Excellency Em Chan Makara, Secretary of State of the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation and Secretary General of the Disability Action Council;

Ms. Elizabeth Adler, Second Secretary at the Australian Embassy in Cambodia;

Ms. Mak Monika, Executive Director of Cambodian Disabled People’s Organization;

Excellencies; Colleagues from the disability and development communities; ladies and gentlemen;

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I am honoured to welcome you to today’s Reflection Workshop on the Inclusive Commune Investment Plan initiative, which seeks to ensure the inclusion of persons with disabilities in the planning, budgeting, and development process of investment plans at the commune level.

I am pleased to see representatives of Organizations of Persons with Disabilities (OPDs) and Commune Councils from all provinces in the room to share their knowledge, experiences and lessons learned in today’s workshop. I would also like to acknowledge the Royal Government of Cambodia for its strong commitment and efforts, in particular under the leadership of the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation and the Disability Action Council, to protect and promote the rights of Cambodian persons with disabilities.   

UNDP has been implementing its disability rights programme for many years with a commitment to support the Royal Government of Cambodia and Organizations of Persons with Disabilities to promote the rights of persons with disabilities through the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), the National Disability Strategic Plan (NDSP) 2019-2023 and the National Law on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which is now being reviewed by the  Disability Action Council Line Ministry Members.

Through the leadership of the Disability Action Council, the Royal Government of Cambodia has done a commendable job in opening space for Organizations of Persons with Disabilities and persons with disabilities to be a part of the amendment process to the National Disability Law.

UNDP has also worked in partnership with the Cambodian Disabled People’s Organization (CDPO) since 2013 to ensure the full participation of persons with disabilities through access to voting registration, and more broadly on disability rights and ensuring their voices are heard. I am very impressed with the progress that has been made over the past years, and we saw the results of these efforts this year with nearly 60,000 persons with disabilities gaining access to the National Cash Transfer Programme to support those impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.

Excellencies; Colleagues from the disability and development communities; ladies and gentlemen;

Under the Access to Justice without Barriers for Persons with Disabilities programme funded by the Australian Government, the inclusive Commune Investment Plan (CIP) is one of the key interventions UNDP and CDPO have actioned to ensure the needs of persons with disabilities are well reflected in each commune’s budget. It is critical that the needs of persons with disabilities at the community level are recognized in every part of the budget development. To accomplish this, persons with disabilities need to be engaged in all processes of commune investment plan development as they know best what they need, and what would help them to exercise their rights to the fullest extent.

We have been working for over a year with 12 communes in 5 target provinces in Cambodia. As an example of the success of joint advocacy from the Provincial Disability Action Council, Cambodian Disabled People’s Organization and Organizations of Persons with Disabilities, six communes have already accepted the requests of OPDs to include the disability activities in its 2021 budget.

Having said that, I would like to encourage the Cambodian Disabled People’s Organization and Organizations of Persons with Disabilities to learn from these communes and replicate this model in other communes to ensure the needs of persons with disabilities are well recognized and reflected in each commune’s budget.

Excellencies; Colleagues from the disability and development communities; ladies and gentlemen;

I would like to conclude by congratulating the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation, the Disability Action Council, government ministries, the disability community and all participants in this meeting, for coming together and working together to ensure persons with disabilities can exercise their rights, and to fulfil the goal of leaving no one behind throughout this workshop.

I would also like to express my appreciation to the Government of Australia through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) for its support to our programme to promote inclusion and the rights of persons with disabilities in partnership with the Royal Government of Cambodia.

I wish you all a very productive workshop.

Thank you.

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