NEW YORK – September 9, 2013 – “If you don’t like something, change it. If something bothers you, confront it.”  These powerful words from a Spanish public service announcement represent the efforts the Kingdom of Spain has made toward improving the human rights and inclusion of persons with disabilities in their country. The public service announcement was shown as part of today’s award ceremony honoring Spain’s efforts.

At the ceremony Her Majesty Queen Sofía of Spain accepted the Franklin D. Roosevelt International Disability Rights Award on behalf of the Kingdom of Spain.  David B. Roosevelt, grandson of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, presented the award to Her Majesty.  Also in attendance were Ivan Šimonović,UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, Annette Lantos, wife of the late Congressman Tom Lantos, and other dignitaries.

Sponsored by the Lantos Foundation and the Roosevelt Institute, the award recognizes the significant progress Spain has made in advancing the full and equal participation of persons with disabilities in all societal areas.  

Susan B. Parker, Senior Advisor & Lead Judge for the award said, “Spain has taken the time to establish broad reaching legislation and implement that same legislation at the national level, at the regional level, and at the local level…They don’t just talk about it; they do it.”

The award is presented to a nation for noteworthy progress in upholding the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) to encourage effective, long-term, positive progress by nation states toward inclusion, equal rights, and quality of life for their citizens with disabilities

The award consists of a bronze bust of Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd president of the United States, who contracted polio at the age of 39, and although a paraplegic, unable to walk or stand again unassisted, was four times elected by the American people. Additionally, a $50,000 cash award is given to a non-governmental organization working on behalf of persons with disabilities within the winning nation. 

The Spanish Committee of Representatives of Persons with Disabilities (CERMI) received this year’s cash award.  CERMI’s mission is to guarantee equal opportunities for women, men, and children with disabilities and to protect their human rights, ensuring they are fully included in society.

For more information about the award please visit our website.

Queen Sofía of Spain to Receive International Disability Rights Award at United Nations

WHAT: The Kingdom of Spain will be honored at the United Nations as the 2013 recipient of the Franklin D. Roosevelt International Disability Rights Award.  The award encourages United Nations member states to work toward full and equal participation of persons with disabilities in all societal areas in keeping with United Nations Standards set forth in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

The award is sponsored by the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice and the Roosevelt Institute.

The Spanish Committee of Representatives of Persons with Disabilities (CERMI) has been chosen as the recipient of a $50,000 cash grant.

WHO: Her Majesty Queen Sofia of Spain will accept the award presented by David B. Roosevelt, in the presence of Assistant Secretary General for Human Rights Ivan Šimonović and other dignitaries.

WHEN: Monday, Sept. 9, 2013, 10:45 am to 12:00 noon

WHERE: Trusteeship Council Chamber, United Nations, New York, NY (47th Street and 1st Avenue entrance)

CONTACT: Denise Perron, Lantos Foundation, (603) 226-3636, (603) 290-1067, or deniseperron@lantosfoundation.org     

FOR MORE INFORMATION:  www. fdr-disability-rights-award.org

Note: Media who do not already have United Nations credentials should contact the Spanish Mission at pressoffice@spainun.org, no later than 12pm on Friday September 6th with their full name, ID, date of birth, affiliation and position (photo journalist, writer, video operator, etc.). Media who are credentialed should also contact pressoffice@spainun.org to indicate they will be attending.

Lantos Foundation Statement on Discrimination by Turkish Airlines

The recently announced partnership between the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice and the Roosevelt Institute to re-establish the FDR International Disability Rights Award (FDRIDRA) is intended to raise awareness of the needs and rights of persons with disabilities. The recent experience of FDRIDRA Advisory Board Member Kersen DeJong onboard Turkish Airlines tangibly demonstrates the vital need for greater support and understanding this Award is meant to encourage.

When Mr. DeJong boarded a Turkish Airlines flight from Istanbul to Amsterdam this past week, he was refused a seat that would accommodate his disability: two artificial legs. After being denied both bulkhead seating and an aisle seat, he was forced to separate his artificial legs from his upper body and drag himself to his seat with his hands. His artificial limbs were then stored by airline staff in an overhead compartment away from his assigned seat. All of this occurred while the flight crew and passengers looked on. At the end of the flight, Dutch customs officers had to assist him in literally putting himself back together before he could leave the airport.

“This incident is a shocking reminder of the challenges people with disabilities face every day. Mr. DeJong is a man of stature and well informed about disability laws, including laws governing public transportation and persons with disabilities. While he handled this deplorable incident with strength and determination, one shudders to think how a less informed and experienced person with a disability would be able to endure such a mortifying experience,” said Katrina Lantos Swett, President of the Lantos Foundation. “We call on Turkish Airlines to apologize to Mr. DeJong and work to establish policies and practices that accommodate all of their travelers comfortably and compassionately.”

The FDR International Disability Award encourages and recognizes countries that make meaningful progress in upholding the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The UN Convention originated in 2007 and currently has 153 signatories and has been ratified by 112 countries.

Though the United States signed the Convention in 2009, the United States Senate has not yet ratified it. On May 17th, just one week before Mr. DeJong’s appalling experience on Turkish Airlines, President Obama sent the treaty to the Senate where it currently awaits approval. If you are as outraged as we are about Mr. DeJong’s treatment, we encourage you to contact your Senators and urge them to support ratification of the UN Convention for Persons with Disabilities immediately.

Lantos Foundation & Roosevelt Institute Partnership

2012 FDR International Disability Rights Award Re-Established

CONCORD, NH - The Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice is pleased to announce that the FDR International Disability Rights Award will once again be granted to a United Nations Member State. The purpose of the award is to recognize that nation’s significant progress in implementing and meeting the goals and ideals characterized by the UN Convention for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Lantos Foundation President Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett said, "Where there is injustice, people with disabilities often face discrimination and the most appalling treatment. We believe the rights of one are the rights of all, and this work is a natural extension of our efforts on behalf of human rights around the world."

Roosevelt Institute Chair Anna Eleanor Roosevelt said her organization is pleased to have an enthusiastic partner in the Lantos Foundation.  “We have sponsored the award since its beginnings,” she said. “We’re grateful for this partnership and opportunity to once again select a deserving winner."
Originally established in 1995, this esteemed award has recognized ten Member States of the United Nations. The last nation to qualify for the award was New Zealand in 2008.

The 2012 recipient will be announced on December 3rd, UN International Day of Persons with Disabilities, and honored at a presentation ceremony in the spring of 2013.

The award is now administered jointly by the Roosevelt Institute and the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice. It will be presented annually at the United Nations in New York to the Head of State of the honored nation, in the presence of the Secretary General. In addition, a $50,000 cash award will be given to an outstanding non-governmental program (NGO) working in the honored nation on behalf of persons with disabilities.

More information about the award can be found at the FDR International Disability Rights Award website.