July 21, 2016
UN Messenger for Peace Stevie Wonder called for greater participation in the Marrakesh Treaty, which recently garnered the 20 accessions or ratifications needed for entry into force on September 30, 2016.
Speaking to UN delegates in New York on Nelson Mandela International Day, July 18, 2016, the longtime Marrakesh Treaty supporter urged greater efforts from delegates to join the “Books for Blind” treaty that aims to boost accessibility to printed matter for the hundreds of millions of people living with visual impairments around the globe.
Video: Stevie Wonder speaks to UN delegates about the Marrakesh Treaty.
Transcript of Mr. Wonder’s remarks
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen:
Today, I am pleased to report that my work with the United Nations and the World Intellectual Property Organization has put the final touches on an international treaty that promises to end the global book famine. A pact that means that the millions of people in the world who are blind or visually impaired will be able to read books in accessible formats in various regions where they did not previously have access, regardless of their financial means.
Recently, Canada notified WIPO that it had formally joined the Treaty making it the key 20th member that led to entry into force of the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired or Otherwise Print Disabled.
And honestly it is a great day. Not only are we celebrating the gift from god of Nelson Mandela, but the opportunity and freedom of people who are blind or visually impaired.
It took three years – can y’all say three years? One more time – it took three years for the required governments to formally join the treaty so it could enter into force.
Act quickly to help millions of blind people
Now what I don’t want to see is another three years and just 20 countries. We need to make this happen expeditiously. For how would you feel if you were not able to have a book to read or information accessible to you. We must make this happen immediately.
It would be in the spirit of Nelson Mandela, who wanted equality, justice and freedom for every single human being in the world.
So really our work will not be over until we remove all barriers to accessibility. Please join us in fulfilling this obligation. I am counting, I am depending, I am trusting in you that this will happen.