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PRESS RELEASE - United Nations adopts resolution to designate 21 March as “World Down Syndrome Day” from 2012 - Down Syndrome International, 16 November 2011
Down Syndrome International is delighted to announce that a resolution to designate 21 March as “World Down Syndrome Day”, to be observed every year beginning in 2012, was adopted by consensus during the plenary meeting of the Third Committee of the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday 10 November 2011.
The resolution was proposed and promoted by Brazil, following an original request by the Brazilian Federation of Down Syndrome Associations, who worked with Down Syndrome International (DSi) and its members to launch an extensive campaign to generate international support. The resolution was eventually co-sponsored by 78 UN Member States.
Down syndrome groups and associations around the world campaigned for their governments to co-sponsor the resolution. In addition, DSi launched an international petition for the adoption of World Down Syndrome Day by the UN. This received more than 12,000 signatures in a 2 week period and was presented to the Chair of the Third Committee.
DSi has coordinated World Down Syndrome Day (WDSD) since 2006, held on 21 March (21/3) to signify the uniqueness of the triplication (trisomy) of chromosome 21 which causes the genetic condition Down syndrome. The aim of the day is to raise awareness and understanding of a condition which affects approximately 1 in 800 births worldwide, and to promote the inherent rights of persons with Down syndrome to enjoy full and dignified lives and be active participants in their communities and society.
Activities and events which take place on this day typically showcase the abilities and accomplishments of persons with Down syndrome and encourage independence, self-advocacy and freedom for persons with Down syndrome to make their own choices. To date, WDSD has been observed in over 60 countries around the world.
From 2012, the United Nations will invite all its Member States, relevant organisations of the UN system, international organisations, as well as civil society, including non-governmental organisations and the private sector, to observe WDSD and actively raise public awareness of Down syndrome.
This will ensure a major step forward towards our goal for WDSD to be observed and celebrated by persons with Down syndrome, their families and friends, those who live and work with them and all persons who wish to promote and ensure quality of life and human rights for all persons with Down syndrome.
DSi would like to thank everyone who has supported this campaign, with particular thanks to the Government of Brazil, the Brazilian Federation of Down Syndrome Associations, all of our member organisations who appealed to their governments for support, and to everyone who signed our international petition.