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
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
"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
"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
SOURCE National Organization on Disability