NEW YORK, March 2 /PRNewswire/ -- The Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute and the World Committee on Disability will honor Canada at the United Nations as the recipient of the Franklin Delano Roosevelt International Disability Award. Established in 1995, the award recognizes and encourages progress by nations toward the fulfillment of the goal of the United Nations World Programme of Action Concerning Disabled Persons -- the full and equal participation of persons with disabilities in the life of their societies. Canada will be awarded a bronze bust of FDR by the distinguished artist Jo Davidson and a $50,000 grant for a non-governmental disability program in their nation. Upon receiving the award at the United Nations ceremony, Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien stated, "This award is welcome recognition of the partnership that exists within Canada in the fight to change attitudes and remove obstacles to the full participation of disabled people in community life. At the same time, it serves as a strong reminder of the continuing effort that is needed to protect and advance the rights of disabled people both in Canada and the rest of the world." The World Programme prescribes how nations, communities, organizations, religions and people of goodwill everywhere can and must expand the participation of people with disabilities for economic, humanitarian and social reasons. Participants at the award ceremony include United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan; Christopher Roosevelt, grandson of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt; Ambassador William J. vanden Heuvel, President, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute; and Alan A. Reich, Chairman, World Committee on Disability. "The Franklin Delano Roosevelt International Disability Award embodies the spirit of my grandfather who triumphed over his own disability and pioneered programs to meet the needs of disabled persons. He would take particular pleasure in the presentation of this award to Canada, a country for which he had a special affection because of his home there at Campobello Island," Christopher Roosevelt stated in presenting the award to the Prime Minister. Canada was selected by the Trustees of the Roosevelt Institute, with the advice of individuals knowledgeable about international disability, the United Nations World Programme of Action Concerning Disabled Persons, and FDR's commitment to social justice for all. "As one of the principal founders of the United Nations and a disabled person himself, Franklin D. Roosevelt would have found special meaning in the United Nations World Programme of Action Concerning Disabled Persons. In enacting disability legislation and implementing its 'National Strategy' on integrating persons with disabilities into Canadian life, Canada has taken significant steps toward fulfilling the goals of the UN Programme and has set a standard for other nations to follow," said Ambassador William J. vanden Heuvel. "Disability is a silent emergency," stated Alan A. Reich, a wheelchair user who has advocated in the UN General Assembly on behalf of persons with disabilities. "A half-billion persons -- one fifth of the people on our planet -- have a disability. Eighty percent of them are in developing nations and are doubly disadvantaged by disability and poverty. We applaud Secretary General Kofi Annan, the United Nations, and Canada for inspirational leadership that brings hope to people with disabilities everywhere. All the world stands to gain," Reich said. Canada is recognized for elevating disability to the top of its national agenda. Efforts have included a national strategy for integrating persons with disabilities, as well as establishing a $158 million fund to expand their participation in Canadian life. The Canadian Parliament introduced the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability. The Employment Equity Act strives to ensure employment rights. Canada's international leadership on disability was highlighted by its spearheading the worldwide campaign for a treaty to ban antipersonnel landmines -- a major disabler. And, Canada played a vital role in developing the United Nations Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities. The award is named for President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who contracted polio at age 39. Although he never again took a step unassisted during his lifetime, he was four times elected President of the United States and led his nation through its two greatest crises of the twentieth century: the Great Depression and World War II. His key role in the founding of the United Nations is often regarded as his crowning achievement. The award was established by the Roosevelt Institute and the World Committee on October 24, 1995, the fiftieth anniversary of the United Nations. The mission of the Institute is to inform new generations of the ideals and achievements of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, and to inspire the application of their spirit of optimism and innovation to the solution of current problems. The World Committee on Disability, the international arm of the National Organization on Disability, promotes the full and equal participation of people with disabilities in the life of their societies. Its mission is to further the United Nations World Programme of Action Concerning Disabled Persons.
SOURCE National Organization on Disability