H.E. Mr. Hussein Hannif
Chair, The Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Affairs Committee (Third Committee)
Sixty-Sixth Session, United Nations General Assembly
WE, THE UNDERSIGNED hereby petition for the adoption of the forthcoming draft resolution for World Down Syndrome Day to become a United Nations Observance Day, to be observed on 21 March each year, with effect from 2012.
We believe that this annual observance will raise awareness and understanding of a condition which affects approximately 1 in 800 births worldwide, and will promote the inherent rights of persons with Down syndrome to enjoy full and dignified lives and be active participants in their communities and society. We believe this day will showcase the abilities and accomplishments of persons with Down syndrome and will encourage independence, self-advocacy and freedom for persons with Down syndrome to make their own choices.
We believe that World Down Syndrome Day promotes the guiding principles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) according to which persons with disabilities should enjoy a full and decent life, in conditions which ensure dignity, promote self-reliance and facilitate the person’s active participation in the community, as well as the full enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms on an equal basis with other persons, and States Parties undertake to adopt immediate, effective and appropriate measures to raise awareness throughout society regarding persons with disabilities.
Approximately 7 million individuals worldwide have Down syndrome, a naturally occurring chromosomal arrangement universally present across racial, gender or socio-economic lines, which can cause intellectual disability, associated medical issues and certain physical characteristics. All persons with disabilities face discrimination and segregation in every UN Member State, but those persons born with Down syndrome particularly show their disability on their faces and as a result they face exclusion from society, limited opportunities to live fulfilling lives and mental and physical abuse and discrimination.
The date 21 March (21/3) is symbolic, referring to the triplication (trisomy) of chromosome 21 which results in the genetic condition Down syndrome. Since 2006, World Down Syndrome Day has been observed by persons with Down syndrome, their families, friends and those who work with them in over 60 UN Member States.
We urge the United Nations to call on your Member States, relevant organisations of the United Nations system and other international organisations, as well as civil society, including non-governmental organisations and the private sector, to observe World Down Syndrome Day on 21 March each year from 2012.