To be human is to be different and difference is not a question of degree or kind. Difference is essential for genetic sustainability and for development.

Disability and Development

The 24th Special Session of the UN World Summit for Social Development and beyond (1 July 200) said:

“The ultimate goals of development are to improve living conditions for people and to empower them to participate fully in the economic, political and social arenas.  This development must be achieved for all people, without discrimination.” 

It can also be argued that these goals should be shared by the biotechnologies that are promising to transform our societies – transform our ideas of development and of the nature of our very being through genetic selection and manipulation.

As has been repeatedly documented, access to full and equal participation in their societies has been denied disabled people in all countries, putting them amongst the poorest of the poor. 

In addition, their need for income is greater than that of non-disabled people since they need money and assistance to try to live normal lives (Sen, 2004).

Similarly, lack of development and economic growth creates disabled people through malnutrition, poor sanitation, lack of immunisation, poverty, poor health and safety provisions and pollution.

To address the problem of poverty many multilateral and bi-lateral agencies have, since the 1990s, adopted a human rights approach to development.

This approach seeks to ensure that each person is seen as having an equal right to freedom, dignity, non-discrimination and protection from the state against abuse of these rights together with access to economic, cultural and social rights. 

The human rights approach celebrates difference – it does not isolation, invalidate or abuse difference.

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