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Statement by Ms Anneli Vares, Deputy Permanent Representative, Mission of Estonia to the United Nations at the Seventh Conference of the State Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD)

11.06.2014

Mr. President, Excellences, distinguished members of delegations and the civil society,

Estonia aligns itself with the statement made on behalf of the European Union, and would like to offer some additional remarks in our national capacity.

Estonia ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the optional protocol in May 2012 and we are proud to take part in the conference of this important convention. We all know that people with disabilities are one of the most vulnerable groups of society, whereby women and children with disabilities often experience multitude forms of discrimination. As noted in the preamble of the convention, women and girls with disabilities are often at greater risk, of among others violence, injury or abuse, maltreatment or exploitation.

I can assure that Estonia is attentive to the rights of persons with disabilities and we have come a long way in this regard since regaining our independence 23 years ago. Still, much remains to be done and we are glad that this convention serves as a road map for us as well as for the rest of the world. We also hope that the resolution, agreed on the treaty body reform this spring, will benefit for the increasingly effective work of the CRPD committee to which we have just elected new experts.

I would like to stress our support to the idea, voiced in the EU joint statement, that disability matters must be addressed in an effective way in the post 2015 agenda.

Today I would like to concentrate on 2 areas where Estonia has made some significant steps concerning advancing the opportunities for people with disabilities so that they could fully and without discrimination participate in the society: namely education and ICT solutions.

Firstly, education: inclusion is a fundamental principle in our education system and it is included as an inseparable part in all legal acts as well as policies related to education which have been drawn up proceeding from student`s needs.

Estonian legislation provides different measures for regular schools in order to effectively integrate students with special educational needs. Special competence-centres at local government`s level provide support and counselling to children with disabilities, their parents, specialists and schools. The general principle is that every child has the right to be educated at a local mainstream school unless it is judged that the conditions for their schooling cannot be met and it is not beneficial for the children themselves. Estonia has foreseen additional state funding for local governments in order to support their efforts in providing inclusive education.

Mr President,

Secondly I would like to touch upon the ICT solutions. Estonia is the country with one of the highest level of Internet freedom and highly advanced e-solutions. Our e-solutions help people with disabilities like everyone else in the public. Almost any activity can be taken care of over the internet in just a few clicks and people must therefore not worry about physical access to several important state and private institutions.  

As to education, for example, via e-School can parents follow the marks given to students, their absence from classes, the content of lessons, and homework and assessments given to students by teachers at the end of the study period. As to the decision-making processes, since 2005, everyone in Estonia has had the opportunity to vote electronically via the internet. Using an ID card or mobile ID, a voter may cast his vote from home. Also, for ten years now, Estonians have not been required to physically visit the bank since the internet bank is open 24 hours a day. Noteworthy is also the fact that in Estonia, recurrent prescriptions can be renewed online with medication to be picked up in any pharmacy in the country and since January 2010, Estonia also began using a medical information system with which people can securely view their own digital medical history online.

The list of examples of e-solutions goes on with the common trait helping to reduce barriers and building a more inclusive society - so that also people with disabilities are able to participate in the society and decision-making processes on equal footing with other members of society and without discrimination.

Participation is important on national as well as international level. Therefore we would like to stress the importance of participation of Organizations of persons with disabilities also in this very conference and we firmly believe that their active involvement, being one of the general obligations of the Convention, should be observed by the Conference of State Parties.

Last but not least I wish to highlight the importance of ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and mainstreaming disability issues into national policy-making in all areas. We should all aim towards the goal of the convention: to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities, and to promote respect for their inherent dignity. 

Thank you.

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