From education to employment

Minister showcases UK’s disability action at UN conference in New York

Tom Pursglove

The UK’s Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work, Tom Pursglove MP, set out his ambition to make the UK the most accessible place in the world for disabled people to live and work at a UN conference in New York.

Speaking on the first day of COSP16, the Minister addressed the high-level gathering in a major speech, outlining the UK’s plan to ensure the voices of disabled people are properly heard to help grow the economy for everyone.

The Minister hailed the UK’s commitment to disability rights and inclusion at the 16th Conference of States Parties to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (COSP16) this week.

Addressing COSP16, Minister for Disabled People, Health & Work, Tom Pursglove MP, said:

“The global context of numerous humanitarian and economic crises, plus the continuing impact of the pandemic, means disability inclusion risks falling further down the agenda.

“The UK remains committed to championing disability rights and inclusion globally.

“Following the launch of our international Disability Inclusion and Rights Strategy last year, the UK is focussed on embedding its principles across our huge diplomatic and development network.”

The Minister took part in a series of bilateral meetings and roundtable discussions with his international counterparts from the USA, Canada, Germany, Norway and other nations at the UN’s headquarters, as part of a global agenda to strengthen international collaboration for the rights of disabled people.

In the UK, the Government is working to achieve this through a number of important reforms across government, including the forthcoming Disability Action Plan, which will be consulted on with disabled people and stakeholders later this year.

These reforms will help to deliver the Prime Minister’s priority of creating better-paid jobs and opportunities for everyone across the country.

During the conference, the Minister delivered the UK national statement to the global representatives in which he vowed to promote: 

“The full, active, and meaningful participation of disabled people in our work”.

He also took part in a discussion on life-changing Assistive Technology (AT), of which the UK is at the forefront thanks to the AT2030 programme run by Global Disability Innovation Hub. It develops new inclusive technologies with the potential to enhance the lives of millions of people.

At a side event co-hosted with the Canadian delegation, the Minister discussed inclusion strategies and plans to improve the social and economic inclusion of disabled people, reducing poverty and increasing accessibility.

At another side event co-hosted with German representatives, he discussed how to close the digital divide to ensure disabled people can benefit from innovation by investing in initiatives that promote digital accessibility.

  • The full text of Minister Pursglove’s national statement can be found here: The UK will continue to promote the full, active and meaningful participation of disabled people in our work: Minister Pursglove statement at the General Assembly – GOV.UK (
  • The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) was adopted in December 2006 and it entered into force on 3 May 2008. Article 40 of the Convention stipulates that “The States Parties shall meet regularly in a Conference of States Parties in order to consider any matter with regard to the implementation of the present Convention.”
  • Since 2008, 15 sessions of the Conference of States Parties have been held at United Nations Headquarters, New York.
  • The Ministerial segment of COSP is a high-level gathering of decision-makers. Ministers participate in a range of events and bilateral meetings, with the aim of strengthening international political commitment for the rights of disabled people.
  • The COSP16 is being held this year in an in-person format at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. This is the first fully in-person COSP since the beginning of the pandemic.

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