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International Day of Families

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15 May 2007 – Marking the International Day of Families, celebrated today, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on the international community to assist families to empower and enrich the lives of the persons with disabilities in their households. “On this International Day of Families, let us dedicate ourselves to enabling the family, the most basic unit of society, to fulfil its role in ensuring that persons with disabilities enjoy full human rights and dignity, and flourish as individuals,” Mr. Ban said, introducing this year's theme for the Day, “Families and Persons with Disabilities.” He said that, for many persons with disabilities, the family is already a source of empowerment, while others experience their family as overly protective, restrictive or a source of shame or even abuse. Citing the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, adopted by the General Assembly in December 2006, Mr. Ban noted that families should be given protection and assistance so they can contribute towards the full and equal enjoyment of the rights of persons with disabilities. In article 23 of the Convention, governments agreed to protect persons with disabilities against discrimination in matters relating to marriage, relationships and the family. They also agreed to ensure the equal rights of children with disabilities with respect to family life, and to ensure that children with disabilities are not separated from their families against their will, except when necessary for the best interests of the child. Should the immediate family be unable to care for a child with disabilities, governments agreed to undertake every effort to provide alternative care within the wider family or, failing that, within the community in a family setting, the Convention states.

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