Karine Elharrar
Karine Elharrar Miriam Alster/Flash 90

After Israeli Energy Minister Karine Elharrar was excluded from the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow for an entire day on Monday due to the summit’s lack of wheelchair accessibility, the following statement was issued by Jay Ruderman, President of the Ruderman Family Foundation, which advocates for and advances the inclusion of people with disabilities throughout society in Israel, the U.S., and worldwide:

“It is unacceptable for organizers of an international conference to fail to make the appropriate preparations to accommodate all attendees, and particularly disappointing for a high-profile entity such as the United Nations to not only miss an opportunity to display inclusive practices for onlookers from around the world but to go a step further by subjecting Minister Elharrar to this humiliation. Even more disturbing should be the realization that, if this is the ordeal experienced by a government minister, imagine the countless instances of exclusion and discrimination suffered by people with disabilities across the globe on a daily and hourly basis. To put this into perspective, as much as twenty percent of the world’s population has some form of a disability.”

Ruderman added, “A perfunctory apology to Minister Elharrar is wholly insufficient. We call on the U.N. to conduct a thorough review of accessibility protocols and capabilities for all of its gatherings, and to implement necessary changes and improvements accordingly, to ensure that today’s disgraceful incident does not repeat itself.”