Persons with Disabilities, International Day of Disabled Persons, 3 December 1992

Internet publication URL:

Copyright © United Nations / Division for Social Policy and Development


The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed, in resolution 47/3 of 14 October 1992 that 3 December be observed every year as the International Day of Disabled Persons. The Day was initially proclaimed to commemorate the anniversary of the General Assembly's adoption of the World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons to promote understanding about disability issues and to increase awareness of gains to be derived from the integration of disabled persons in every aspect of political, social economic and cultural life. Observance of the Day should also include monitoring of the implementation of recommendations agreed upon by the disabled community and others concerned.

Observing the International Day of Disabled Persons

During the past two decades, much has been accomplished in recognition of disabled persons. One of the turning points was the International Year of Disabled Persons proclaimed by the General Assembly in 1981. Following the year, the International Decade of Disabled Persons was designated (IYDP 1983-1992) to promote "equality" and "full participation" of disabled persons in social life and development. The following instruments were adopted by the General Assembly: the World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons in 1982 and the Standard Rules on Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities in 1993. For monitoring the implementation of the Standard Rules, a Special Rapporteur was appointed by the Secretary-General in 1994. He has been working closely with Governments to assist them in implementing the Standard Rules. His mandate was extended for another three years (1997-2000) at the 35th session of the Commission for Social Development in 1997. His latest report is available at internet address: The Long-Term Strategy to further the implementation of the World Programme of Action to the Year 2000 and beyond was also adopted by the General Assembly in 1994.

The International Day of Disabled Persons provides an opportunity for governments, organizations of disabled persons and all in society to focus on the freedoms and potentials of persons with disabilities. There are many examples of initiatives undertaken by governments and organizations for disabled persons in observance of previous International Days of Disabled Persons. The year 1997, the theme for the Day is "Disability, Arts and Sports". Through arts and sports persons with disabilities all over the world are fully participating in society and contributing to artistic and athletic expressions of human society.

In recognition of the Day, governments and non-governmental organizations may wish to:

  • Organize forums on disability issues, especially on arts and sports, and initiate discussions on the needs, interests, and aspirations of disabled persons (e.g., Week of Solidarity for Disabled Persons to discuss fuller participation of disabled persons in arts and sports, as well as the social and vocational rehabilitation programmes available, and the strategic measures and recommendations for action);
  • Meet to discuss ways to implement the "Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with disabilities" with a special focus on Rule 10 and 11;
  • Take stock of the progress made throughout the year as well as obstacles encountered during the implementation of disability policies and programmes;
  • Proclaim the rights of disabled persons in national legislation;
  • Promote solidarity "through arts and sports" between persons with disabilities and society as a whole, as symbolized by the emblem of the IYDP;
  • Encourage regional and local celebration of the Day to avoid concentration of activities in one venue;
  • Explore options for involving international and regional organizations and potential donors in contributing to the improvement of the situation of disabled persons through articulating their needs and concerns, identifying practical solutions, and assisting with the implementation of suggested policies (e.g., national fund-raising activities in the disability field to promote participation of persons with disabilities in arts and sports).
  • Organize and participate in local, national and international activities to advance the status of disabled persons globally. To achieve this objective athletes and artists all over the world should take an active role in organizing events to promote artistic and athletic expressions of artists and athletes with disabilities.
  • Seek the involvement of schools, universities and other academic institutions;
  • Sensitize the public regarding human rights for persons with disabilities and raise public awareness of the problems, needs and potential of disabled persons through arts and sports;
  • Give special recognition to organizations of artists and athletes that have contributed to the advancement of persons with disabilities through arts and sports;
  • Involve churches, synagogues and other religious institutions in celebrating the Day of Disabled Persons;

All parties ought to accord special attention to the role of the mass media especially those dealing with arts and sports in preparing for the observance of the International Day of Disabled Persons.

For more information contact:
Division for Social Policy and Development
United Nations
Two United Nations Plaza
New York, N.Y. 10017
United States of America
FAX: (1 212) 963-3062
Comments and suggestions about International Day of Disabled Persons: