RI Global From the Field: RI Global Prepares for its 2nd Century During Annual GA; Readies Scotland for Congress

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RI Global: Office of Communications

Contact: Adrian Brune, +1 347-759-9501

Just five years shy of entering their second century of work, Rehabilitation International delegates from around the world met in Edinburgh yesterday to elect new officials, set a proactive program and prepare for the next 100 years in disability inclusion.

The annual General Assembly met a day before Rehabilitation International’s 23rd World Congress, taking place at the Edinburgh International Conference Center in partnership with Shaw Trust, the leading provider of disability services in the UK. The World Congress has brought more than 1,000 people from 65 countries to champion the empowerment and social inclusion of disabled people everywhere.


HRH The Princess Royal and First Minster for Scotland, the Rt Hon Nicola Sturgeon MSP, head up the long list of prestigious speakers, which also includes the UK’s Minister of State for Disabled People, Penny Mordaunt,  Professor Stephen Hawking via video message and Rio 2016 Paralympic gold medallist, Pamela Relph MBE.

“Since 1922, Rehabilitation International (RI) has shown that this organization is a forum for all stakeholders in rehabilitation and is a frontrunner within this field,” said Zhang Haidi, the RI Global President-Elect, whose term begins after the Congress ends. “We must build on this important history and integral to our success is the establishment of partnerships with organisations and individuals that will help us achieve the vision and mission of RI.”

The new strategic plan that has come out of the Congress puts RI Global’s focus on habilitation/rehabilitation as a strategy for helping persons with disabilities (PwDs) with physical, psychological and social needs as countries continue to adapt and ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). RI Global will promote inclusive education, accessibility, and open employment as goals for assisting every PwD take his or her place in societies around the world.


In addition to the CRPD, RI Global will continue to play an important role in ensuring that persons with disabilities are not left behind in the realization of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), announced at the UN Secretariat in September 2015. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development proves a critical opportunity to examine the situation of PwDs and promote their important role as both agents and beneficiaries of development.

“RI Global has developed tools and has the capacity through the collective expertise of its members, to contribute significantly in realizing the goal of reducing — or even eliminating — oppressive poverty that characterizes the existence of majority of persons with disabilities living in developing countries,” said Venus Ilagan, RI Global’s Secretary-General. “To effectively achieve this goal, this will require the Regions, Commissions and RI Secretariat working in partnership as well as RI identifying new external partners.”


During the GA, RI Global also discussed project plans for its upcoming 100th anniversary and for expanding its reach in the Paralympics, Abilympics and other educational and social activities, especially in Africa. Each Commission within RI Global will develop individual ventures and mobilize resources to help PwDs on all levels, as well as work to adopt an annual cross-commission theme. Centennial celebrations will dovetail with other international disability events, such as the 2018 Winter Paralympics in South Korea and the Abilympics — a competition of professional excellence for PwDs.

“As an international NGO with almost 100 years, RI always played a leading role in world disability affairs,” Zhang said. “We will continue to make full use of the resources and expertise of RI for the coming years and strengthen RI’s leadership at national, regional and global level.”

To that end, RI Global, yesterday, elected the following for Executive Committee and Working Commissions:

Executive Committee

Susan Parker, Treasurer


Mark Webber (South Africa), Vice-President

Demelash Bekele (Ethiopia), Deputy Vice-President


Hashem Taqi (Kuwait), Vice-President

Lobna Smida (Tunisia), Deputy Vice-President


Ye-Ja Lee (South Korea), Vice-President

Ghazala Hameed (Pakistan), Deputy Vice-President


Roy O’Shaughnessy (UK), Vice-President

Francois Perl (Belgium), Deputy Vice-President


Michael Brogioli (U.S.), Vice-President

Mathieu Simard (Canada), Deputy Vice-President

Working Commissions:

EDUCATION: Tone Mork (Norway), Chair

HEALTH & FUNCTION: Yueqin Huang (China), Chair; Silke Bruggemann, Deputy Chair



POLICIES & SERVICES: Pauliina Lampinen (Finland), Chair; Nick Caboy (UK), Deputy Chair

SOCIAL: Kaahled El Mohtar (Lebanon), Chair; Joseph Kwok (South Korea), Deputy Chair

WORK & EMPLOYMENT: Friedrich Myerhoff (Germany), Chair; Madan Kundu (U.S), Deputy Chair




RI Global: Founded in 1922, Rehabilitation International (RI Global) is a worldwide network promoting the rights and inclusions of persons with disabilities (PwDs) through advocacy, habilitation and rehabilitation to achieve an inclusive world in which all people can enjoy full human rights.