Opening Remarks by Mr. Naindra Prasad Upadhaya, Secretary, Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare and Head of Nepali Delegation

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19 February 2018


Madam Chairperson

Rapporteur Mr. Hyung –Shik Kim

Distinguished Committee Members

Friends from the Media and Civil Society

Ladies and Gentlemen


Good afternoon and Namaste!


At the outset, let me introduce members of my delegation.


Ambassador Deepak Dhital, Permanent Representative of Nepal to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva;


Mr. Dilli Raj Ghimire, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs;

Mr. Bharat Raj Paudyal, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs;

Mr. Phanindra Gautam, Joint Secretary, Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers;

Ms. Radhika Aryal, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare;

Mr. Suresh Adhikari, Counsellor, Permanent Mission of Nepal to the United Nations, Geneva;

Mr. Keshav Bhattarai, Under Secretary, Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare.


Madam Chair,


  1. I have brought with me warm greetings and best wishes from the people and the Government of Nepal to the entire membership of this distinguished Committee.


  1. Nepal attaches high importance to the protection and promotion of human rights, including the rights of the persons with disabilities. Our delegation was scheduled to be led by the Honorable Minister for Women, Children and Social Welfare. However, due to some unavoidable circumstances that required the presence of the Minister in the capital, the Minister could not join us here this time. I am pleased to extend best wishes to all of you on behalf of the Minister.


  1. My delegation includes senior officials from respective line ministries responsible for the formulation and implementation of human rights policies and strategies in the country, including those related to the persons with disabilities. 


  1. In my presentation, I will outline Nepal's efforts towards fulfilling its obligation under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and highlight the achievements, and also share with the Committee the challenges and constraints we are facing. I feel honored and privileged to represent Nepal at this interactive dialogue. We look forward to having a productive and constructive session with the committee members.


Madam Chair,


  1. Following the ratification of the Convention and its Protocol on 7 May 2010, Nepal submitted the initial report to the CRPD Committee in August 2014 and transmitted detailed reply on the list of issues in January 2018. The response of Nepal to the list of issues substantially adds on the initial report as there were some notable progress made both on the policy and legislation fronts and their implementation during the period. The Government of Nepal consulted with NHRIs and relevant civil society organizations while preparing the report. I request the esteemed Committee to look at both reports in tandem.


  1. Nepal has gone through a process of major political transformation with broad ranging implications over the period mentioned above. Allow me a few minutes to share those changes.


  1. In September 2015, Nepal adopted a democratic and inclusive Constitution which concluded the peace process that began in 2006.  The Constitution enshrines an array of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights in a comprehensive manner. Upholding universal democratic norms and values, the Constitution ensures inclusive democracy, pluralism, the rule of law, independent judiciary, representative and accountable government, social and economic justice, and guarantees the enjoyment of universally accepted human rights.


  1. The Constitution safeguards rights of individuals, groups and communities in an inclusive manner.  Inclusion, non-discrimination and social justice are its fundamental tenets. It ensures inclusive representation of marginalized and disadvantaged communities in all State organs, promotes affirmative action and makes special provisions for Persons with Disabilities. The Constitution provides opportunities for participation of persons with disabilities at the local and provincial levels and at the Federal Parliament, the Upper House in particular.


  1. The Constitution transforms Nepal from a unitary state to a federal one to uphold inclusive and participatory decision-making at federal, provincial and local levels and ensures proportional representation of all sections of our society in all three tiers of the Government. Nepal conducted a series of elections for the local level, provincial assemblies and federal parliament in five phases over the year. This is a major milestone crossed in Nepal's journey to federal democratic order. Besides ensuring the successful completion of the democratic transition and the establishment of a functioning federal system of governance, the elections have institutionalized several transformative initiatives in the empowerment and participation of women, indigenous people, persons with disabilities and minorities. With their meaningful presence at all tiers of Government and elected bodies, they are now being mainstreamed in the political and development process. Persons with disabilities now number 626 in various civil service positions following the affirmative actions initiated since 2007. Four PWDs have made to the Federal parliament this time, whereas their presence at various leadership positions in the local bodies totals 22.


Madam Chair,


  1. This broad framework of constitutional, legal and other measures creates solid and conducive basis for the protection and promotion of the rights of persons with disabilities in line with the CRPD principles.


  1. I now touch upon the milestones that we have achieved following the submission of our report, and the challenges that still confront us.


  1. Nepal has taken a number of measures to enable the persons with disabilities exercise the rights on an equal basis with others of all human rights and fundamental freedoms.


  1. The Constitution of Nepal has guaranteed comprehensive sets of rights specifically to the Persons with Disabilities and has made special provisions to ensure their access to education, social justice, and proportional representation at the local bodies, the Provincial Assemblies and Federal parliament. The Constitution ensures every person the right to live in dignity. Discrimination on the basis of disability has been strictly prohibited, and at the same time, the constitution provides for making special provisions for the protection, empowerment and development of the persons with disabilities. It provides that special provision has to be made by law for persons with disabilities free access to higher education. The visually impaired citizens have the right to get education in braille scripts, while the citizens with hearing and speech impairment are entitled to free education in sign language by law.  The constitution has further provided right of the children with disability to receive special protection and facilities from the state. Citizens with disability have the right to participate in the State institutions on the basis of proportional inclusion.  They have the right to live with dignity and honor with the identity of their different ability and have equal access to the public services and facilities. Similarly, the citizens with disability and those who cannot take care of themselves have the right to social security by law.


  1. The Disability Rights Act, 2017 replacing the Disabled Persons Welfare Act, 1982, has made significant departure from the welfare-based approach to the right-based approach and intends to further elaborate the provisions of the constitution into concrete laws. The Act fully recognizes the principles on which the CRPD Convention is founded. The beauty of this Act is that it has widened the definition of persons with disabilities in line with the rights enshrined in the CRPD. It recognizes the intersectionality within the disability, eliminates the derogatory narratives, and criminalizes the use of such narratives towards the persons with disabilities. This Act has also provisioned the national mechanism to coordinate, monitor and promote the effective implementation of rights of persons with disabilities at all levels of Government.


  1. In compliance with the Disability Rights Act, Disability Rights Regulations are in the advance stage of formulation. With a view to bring harmony, consistency and coherence in the laws, policies and plans of action as well as to facilitate the implementation of CRPD, the Government is also revising National Policy and Plan of Action on disability, in line with the Disability Rights Act, Sustainable Development Goals, and the Incheon Strategy.


  1. In addition to the said Act, there are a number of reform measures being taken in other laws to protect and promote rights of persons with disabilities. The National Penal Code, 2017 criminalizes discrimination based on disability with heavy penalty. The Criminal Procedures Code and Civil Procedures Code accord top priority to the cases involving persons with disabilities as a party in court hearings. In addition, the Criminal Procedures Code provides that no person with disability shall be remanded to judicial custody in case she or he is implicated in an offence punishable up to ten years of imprisonment.


  1. Local Government Act 2017 explicitly assigns the function, responsibility and authority to the local government including the distribution of Identity Card, social security, compilation and maintenance of data, and required services to persons with disabilities, operation and management of rehabilitation centers for persons with disabilities.     


 Madam Chair,


  1.     Now, I would like to share some major programme interventions that Nepal has been implementing to protect the rights of persons with disabilities that include;


  1. Implementation of Community Based Rehabilitation Program,
  2. Promotion of several awareness raising programs throughout the country by media, targeted programs and publicity materials in partnership with DPOs,
  3. Support to production and distribution of assistive devices to persons with disabilities,
  4. Support to effective operation of care homes,
  5. Provision of grants to Disabled Persons Organization (DPOs),
  6. Distribution of Identity Cards and social security allowances,
  7. Tax exemption for assistive devices, vehicles, including electronic wheelchairs,
  8. Capacity development of PWD, law enforcement agencies and DPOs
  9. Establishment of Help Desk at the Ministry and each District Women and Children Office,
  10. Digitization of records of Persons with Disability having Identity Card, 
  11. Implementation of Building Code for improved accessibility.


  1. There have been some notable progress as a result of the implementation of the above programs as well as through the adoption of major policy measures by the Government of Nepal.
    1. Enactment of New Disability Rights Act 2017 in order to implement the disability friendly provisions of the Constitution and the CRPD,
    2. Representation of Persons with Disabilities in all three tiers of the government.
    3. Inclusive access to education opportunities for the persons with disabilities. Throughout the country, altogether 380 resource centers, 32 special schools, and 22 integrated schools have been operating. Total 76,470 disable students of various kind are studying from elementary to secondary level. 
    4. Free health service provided to the persons with disabilities in public hospitals,
    5. Implementation of affirmative action and reservation system in public sector employment opportunities,
    6. Gradual improvisation of disability friendly physical infrastructures, and introduction of disability friendly public transport vehicles.


  1. In the midst of the above programmatic interventions and progress made so far, we are encountering atypical challenges, that include:
    1. Nepal’s topography poses daunting challenges to ensure accessibility everywhere,
    2.  High risk of natural disasters and unforeseen calamities,
    3. Paucity of financial, technical and other resources to implement enormous competing social and development priorities,
    4. Mainstreaming disability issues in the new structures of federal dispensation.
    5. Capacity constraints to adopt and afford new technology,


  1. Despite the challenges, we see the opportunities emerging in the horizon that would help create more favorable atmosphere for the implementation of CRPD and realization of rights enshrined in there.
    1. Newly introduced Federal System of governance will provide opportunity for more decentralized mode of implementation that can bring effectiveness,
    2. Implementation of Constitution will further reinforce and institutionalize rights based approach,
    3. Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development fully internalized in national development plans and policies that aims at leaving no one behind,
    4. Broader legal framework provided by the new Disability Rights Act, and soon-to-be- framed Regulation and the Action Plan, and
    5. Strong Partnership with the media, civil society organizations and NGOs working for Persons with Disabilities.  


Madam Chair,


  1. The Government of Nepal is committed to the principles and purposes of CRPD, Incheon Strategy, and Sustainable Development Goals. The information contained in our initial report and in the reply to the list of issues reflect our commitment to the rights enshrined in the CRPD. We have deployed serious and consistent efforts to realize those commitments into action by implementing them through policies, programs and institutional measures. This is an ongoing effort which we take with all seriousness and continue building on the achievements made so far. This is a journey to the betterment that will continue until we fully enable the persons with disabilities in Nepal to realize the rights enshrined in the Convention. Nepal reaffirms its commitment to tackle inequality and discrimination by collecting better disaggregated data, better knowledge of the impact of multiple forms of discrimination on the rights of different groups among the PWDs, and appropriate responses through laws, policies and programs. 


  1. We appreciate the support extended by our development partners and civil society members to our endeavors. I believe this collaboration and partnership would be continued and further strengthened in the days to come.


  1. My Government takes this conversation with you in all seriousness. We know that we fall short of perfections in our efforts in this regard. However, we are aware that we are on the right path with scaled-up ambition. And, we want to benefit from the valuable knowledge, deep insight and rich expertise and experience of this committee. We are confident that your valuable comments and inputs during these two sessions would go a long way in our efforts to the promotion and protection of the rights of PWDs in Nepal. It will add enormous value in our sincere commitments to uphold the provisions enshrined in the CRPD.


  1. I look forward to a very fruitful and constructive dialogue with the distinguished Committee members. I am confident that with the greater understanding and support from the CRPD Committee, Nepal will have ideas and insights to make meaningful progress in the days ahead.


  1. I thank you for your kind attention!  


Position: Intern ENGAGE

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