On December 12, 2012, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) unanimously passed a new resolution calling on governments to take urgent action to improve access to long-term healthcare, education, training and intervention programs for persons with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), developmental disorders (DD), and associated disabilities, at local, national and international levels. The resolution was drafted and tabled by the Mission of Bangladesh with the support of Autism Speaks, and more than 70 co-sponsors.
The new resolution requests that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon bring ASD, DD, and other disabilities to the attention of all member states and UN organizations in advance of the High Level Meeting of the General Assembly on the realization of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and other internationally agreed development goals for persons with disabilities that will take place in September 2013.
“Over the past five years, armed with the support of the United Nations, so many countries have made meaningful improvements to the services they offer, helping innumerable families and individuals affected by autism,” said Suzanne Wright, co-founder of Autism Speaks. “We are grateful to the Mission of Bangladesh, the State of Qatar and the resolution’s co-sponsors for supporting this global call to action that provides concrete steps to bring us closer to finding more effective treatments and a cure for autism.”
During the discussion of the resolution at the UN General Assembly, several of the co-sponsors spoke about advances in government support and service provision for individuals and families affected by ASD in their home countries. The representative from Israel said that their country is currently introducing a law that will provide individuals with ASD lifelong government support. Saudi Arabia spoke of the need to recognize the special talents of those with ASD and of the success of a new organization called The Charitable Society for Autism Families in Saudi Arabia, an effort led by Princess Samira bint Abdullah Al-Farhan. Indonesia highlighted the importance of capacity-building as well as support for not only affected individuals, but also their families.
The 2007 UN resolution on autism, which was dedicated to increasing global awareness of autism and officially established April 2 as World Autism Awareness Day, has seen great success in drawing the world’s attention to autism. This year, more than 600 cities in 45 countries on 6 continents participated in World Autism Awareness Day activities.
The new resolution has already begun to inspire various member states to take action to address autism. In February 2013, the governments of Bangladesh and India, with technical support from the World Health Organization (WHO) and Autism Speaks, will hold the first meeting of the Southeast Asia Autism Network (SAAN) in New Delhi, India. The mission of SAAN is to identify regional challenges and opportunities for partnership on issues related to autism.
Immediately following the passing of the resolution, the Bangladesh Mission hosted a reception to celebrate this historic occasion. Autism Speaks thanks Bangladesh for their leadership in the global effort to find a cure for autism and improve access to services.