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Easy Read statement

It is with deep regret that Down Syndrome International announces today the cancellation of the following events:


New York

9th World Down Syndrome Day Conference

Friday 20th March 2020

United Nations Headquarters, New York, United States.



Preparatory workshop and side event to the 23rd Session of the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Thursday 19th March 2020 and Friday 20th March 2020

United Nations, Geneva, Switzerland.

Reasons for cancellation


A decision was made by the UN to cancel all Human Rights Council and Treaty Bodies side events at the United Nations in Geneva, with effect from 3rd March 2020 until the end of the 43rd session of the Human Rights Council on 20th March 2020, following recommendations by the Director-General of the UN Office at Geneva as a measure taken in regard to COVID-19. Down Syndrome International’s event was one of those side events. It is logical for DSi to cancel our workshop as a result of this decision, for which the sole purpose was preparation for the side event.

We recognise that this decision will be very disappointing for our co-sponsors, speakers, delegates, members and supporters, as indeed it is for DSi. However, we fully support the decision made based on the exceptional circumstances and we hope that everyone involved will also understand.


New York

Down Syndrome International has made the decision to cancel our event following extensive consultations and after carrying out a risk assessment. The UN has not cancelled our event yet, but all side events and parallel events to the 64th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW64) that were programmed from 9th March 2020 to 20th March 2020 have been cancelled to restrict travelling to UN Headquarters due to COVID-19.

Factors which have influenced our decision include:

  • The remote, but potentially high impact risk of delegates contracting COVID-19 as a result of attending the event, keeping in mind that some delegates might be more vulnerable to the virus on age or health grounds;
  • The high percentage of international delegates registered to attend who may face difficulties arriving from or returning to their home countries given the changeability of travel restrictions;
  • The possibility that the United Nations or the U.S. Authorities might make decisions at a later time which would effectively force the cancellation of our event, following further resource commitment from DSi, our co-sponsors, speakers and delegates in the intervening period;
  • The possibility that our speakers or delegates might make their own personal decisions not to travel to our event, thereby reducing the ability of our event to achieve the content delivery impact anticipated.

Again, we recognise that this decision will be very disappointing for our co-sponsors, speakers, delegates, members and supporters, as indeed it is for DSi. However, we hope that everyone involved will understand that these are exceptional circumstances beyond our control.

Rescheduling and alternative means of content delivery

Given that our Geneva and New York events symbolically take place on or around World Down Syndrome Day each year and given the uncertainty over the longevity of the global COVID-19 situation, DSi will not look to reschedule these events to other dates in 2020.

However, we fully recognise that our co-sponsors, delegates, members and supporters were looking forward to hearing from our fantastic speakers. We will therefore investigate alternative remote means to deliver as much of the content we had scheduled for both events as possible. Please bear with us and keep an eye on the DSi and WDSD websites for more information on this. 

World Down Syndrome Day 2020

Once again, we deeply regret that the above mentioned WDSD events cannot take place in 2020. But these events are just two among thousands of activities taking place across the world on or around 21 March 2020. As always, DSi will be fulfilling our unique role bringing the global community together on this day, working with our members, partners and supporters to facilitate a global call to action to ensure the rights of people with Down syndrome on an equal basis with others. We are very much looking forward to working with you all on World Down Syndrome Day 2020.

For more information, please contact Down Syndrome International’s office by email or telephone:

Email: [email protected]

Telephone +44 (0)1395 493108


Or visit the following websites:

DSi website

WDSD website

UN WDSD page