World leaders gather for development forum in Pyeongchang

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World leaders gather for development forum in Pyeongchang

Leaders from around the world will gather in Pyeongchang, Gangwon, today to tackle challenges faced by those with intellectually disabilities.

Held on the sidelines of the Special Olympics, the Global Development Summit will bring together roughly 300 leaders in politics, sports, business and civic community for one day at the Alpensia Convention Center Auditorium, according to the organizing committee for the Pyeongchang Special Winter Olympics World Winter Games.

This marks the first time that such an event will be held alongside the Special Olympics, which began in 1968. In previous years, such discussions took place at smaller academic forums held in between Olympic years.

At the summit, held under the banner “Ending the Cycle of Poverty and Exclusion for People with Intellectual Disabilities,” Aung San Suu Kyi, chairwoman of the National League for Democracy in Burma and a member of parliament in Myanmar, will make a keynote speech on the theme, “From the Shadows to Significance - Achieving Human Rights for Those with Intellectual Disabilities.”

Joyce Banda, president of Malawi, will make a keynote speech titled “No Excuses. The Moral Imperative to Integrate People with Disabilities into Global Development Agenda.”

Cherie Blair, the wife of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and founder of the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, will moderate one of the discussion sessions. Former NBA player Yao Ming and Wilfried Lemke, special adviser to the UN secretary general on sport for development and peace, are among the panelists for her session.

Alana Margaret Officer, a World Health Organization coordinator in disability and rehabilitation, and Tam Wing-kun, chairman of the Lions Club International Foundation, will attend another session on health disparities that exist for those with intellectual disabilities.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will appear in a video message during the summit, which will also be attended by Timothy Shriver, chairman and CEO of the Special Olympics; Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller; Muhtar Kent, CEO of the Coca-Cola Company; Dikembe Mutombo, a former NBA player and founder of the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation; Song Sang-hyun, the president of the International Criminal Court; and Korean Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik.

Organizers hope similar events will be held at future Games.

By Moon Gwang-lip []
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