Save the Children UK
There are an estimated 200 million children with disabilities in the world, out of a global population of about 2 billion children. In other words, approximately 10% of the total population of children, the majority of whom live in developing countries, are born with a disability or become disabled during childhood. May 2009 (pdf).
“The purpose of the convention is to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights by persons with disabilities. It covers a number of key areas such as accessibility, personal mobility, health, education, employment, habilitation and rehabilitation, participation in political life, and equality and non-discrimination. The convention marks a shift in thinking about disability from a social welfare concern to a human rights issue, which acknowledges that societal barriers and prejudices are themselves disabling”. (UN)
A United Nations (UN) ad-hoc committee has approved the draft text of the International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Disabled rights groups and U.N. officials hope that the first core human rights treaty of the 21st century could finally assume legal force when world leaders gather for the 62nd. session of the General Assembly on 25 to 27 September 2007.
The convention aims to be an instrument that would make governments introduce changes to their legislation in order to improve and promote the access of disabled people to education and employment, their access to information and adequate health care systems, their mobility without facing neither physical nor social obstacles, as well as to protect and ensure their full and equal enjoyment of rights, just as the rest of people, in areas such as the participation in public life and social welfare.
Although the acknowledgement of the rights of persons with disabilities is included in other international treaties, reality has proven so far that this acknowledgement often remains on the books. This convention intends to involve countries in the elimination of stereotypes and the inclusion of disabled people in societal activities. While the convention does not create new rights, it specifically prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities in all areas. “A universal, legally binding standard is needed to ensure that the rights of persons with disabilities are guaranteed everywhere. The UN Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Disabled Persons (1993) have served as model legislation for a number of countries. They provide policy guidelines on promoting the same opportunities to persons with disabilities that others enjoy. However, the Standard Rules are not a legally binding instrument, and disability advocates note that there are no enforceable obligations without a convention”. (UN).
Prejudices, exclusion, infantilization and the still prevailing tendency to consider disabilities from a perspective of charity or health care rather than from a conception of human rights pose a real obstacle to participation and to a full acknowledgement of rights. Louise Arbour, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights stated that “attitudes, rather than resource constraints, often create the strongest barriers to the enjoyment of rights by persons with disabilities” . Referring to States, she claimed that they “bear the primary responsibility for ensuring equality and eliminating discrimination, but we all must also acknowledge our own responsibility and act accordingly”. She also stated that international cooperation “must play a role in ensuring that progress is made everywhere, since empowering persons with disabilities to enjoy their human rights is a collective obligation”.
Following these steps there arises the need to implement the follow-up to commitments undertaken by countries and at the same time –beyond the existence of the convention– to mainstream these rights in other treaties, strongly linking them to development, population and human rights policies.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities entered into force one month after the required twentieth country ratified the landmark treaty which guarantees the rights of some 650 million people worldwide. The Convention does not create any new rights, but aims to ensure that the benefits of existing rights are fully extended and guaranteed. May 2008.
Countries that join in the Convention engage themselves to develop and carry out policies, laws and administrative measures for securing the rights recognized in it and abolish laws, regulations, customs and practices that constitute discrimination. What the Convention endeavours to do is to elaborate in detail the rights of persons with disabilities and set out a code of implementation. 2007.
Despite each woman’s ability to find solutions to problems caused by her disability, she also faces social, physical, cultural and economic barriers that
can stop her from getting health care, education, vocational training and employment. Women with disabilities have a right to good health. Good health depends on enough nutritious food to eat, regular physical activity, and access to information and services to prevent and treat health problems, especially
problems of reproductive health. February, 2007.
The draft United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities adopted in August 2006 goes a long way in affirming the rights and dignity of people with disabilities. The challenge will be in its implementation. Already some states have shown reluctance to be party to the treaty. For those who do sign it, there is no guarantee of their commitment to implementing it. The track record of most states in honouring their obligations under other treaties such as CEDAW indicates that there is likely to be much work to be done by civil society, regional bodies and the UN to ensure that the Convention is actually implemented. September 2006.
A regional consultation on children's rights and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was held in Sana'a, Yemen, from 29 - 31st October 2007. The needs and rights of disabled children are frequently overlooked, since they experience a double invisibility: of being a child and of being a disabled person. Lack of awareness means that unless disabled children are specifically mentioned, they become marginalised within the general children’s agenda. Girls with impairments suffer still further discrimination: they are more likely to be abandoned, discriminated against, excluded from education, marriage and motherhood. October 2007.
Now that UN's General Assembly has adopted the Convention the document will be open for signing and ratification of the 192 UN-Member States on 30 March 2007. The Convention needs to be ratified by at least 20 countries to enter into force. The ratifying countries will be legally obliged to treat people with disabilities as individuals with rights, clearly defined throughout the 50 articles of the Convention text, covering all fields of life. Countries that ratify the treaty agree to enact laws and other measures to improve disability rights, and also to abolish legislation, customs and practices that discriminate against persons with disabilities. Currently only some 45 countries have legislation that deal with persons with disabilities. The Convention will be opened for signature and ratification on 30 March.
After five years of debate on a draft treaty to protect the rights of the disabled, which will directly affect 650 million people, the United Nations has finalised its first ever legally binding treaty on the issue. While the convention does not create new rights, it specifically prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities in all areas of life. It covers a number of key areas such as accessibility, personal mobility, health, education, employment, participation in political life and equality. Ratification is a complex process in which many government institutions may participate -from parliaments and ministries to special committees and cabinets- and seminars or public hearings may be held. August 29, 2006.
Disability experts from around the world with backgrounds in government, international organizations, and civil society stressed the need to mainstream disability in all development activities in order to achieve equality for persons with disabilities. Mainstreaming disability was selected as the "Emerging Issue" for the 2008 session of the Commission for Social Development, and a panel discussion was held on the topic. February 2008, pdf format.
Prejudice, exclusion, stigmas and a tendency to still view disability within a charity perspective or a medical model, rather than within the human rights discourse, are all very real barriers to participation for persons with disabilities in Africa today. Combined with a high level of poverty, the African disability movement is facing an uphill struggle. There are positive signs and opportunities, however. The first human rights treaty of the twenty-first century has just been finalised at the United Nations. It will serve to promote and protect the human rights of 650 million persons with disabilities around the world. In Africa, the decade between 1999 and 2009 has been proclaimed the African Decade of Persons with Disabilities by the African Union. The first-ever human rights convention for persons with disabilities will be an important tool for the Secretariat that facilitates the implementation of the African Decade’s plan of action. August 31, 2006.
Children with disabilities experience profound and widespread violations of their rights. And, unfortunately, despite the explicit provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (Article 23), these abuses have continued, largely unrecognised by the international community. This new treaty spells out clear obligations for governments on the actions they need to take to achieve greater protection of the rights of children with disabilities. August 29, 2006.
The International Disability Caucus has developed detailed amendments to the current text which it is available under Our Priority Areas. A separate mechanism for monitoring compliance with the Convention will continue to raise the profile of disability rights on the national and international levels, which is crucial to increasing societal awareness and acceptance over time. August 2006.
National delegations and NGOs gathered at the United Nations from May 24 to June 4, 2006, to continue negotiations on the International Convention to Promote and Protect the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities. Using the draft document developed by an earlier working group this Ad Hoc Committee discussed and debated issues such as the right to privacy and family; freedom from torture and inhumane treatment; freedom from forced medical interventions; the right to work; the right to cultural participation; and the right to an adequate standard of living.
The Convention to protect the rights of the some 650 million persons with disabilities was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 13 December. It is the first major human rights treaty of the 21st century and it is opened to the 192 member states for ratification and implementation. Opening for Signature of the Convention: 30 March 2007. See the Convention full text and more information.
On Wednesday, December 13, 2006, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the new Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which will now pass into the ratification process when it opens for signing by States on March 31, 2007. Outgoing UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan told the General Assembly that the Convention's adoption "promises to be the dawn of a new era -an era in which disabled people will no longer have to endure the discriminatory practices and attitudes that have been permitted to prevail for all too long." Mr. Annan continued by noting that this Convention is not only the first human rights treaty of the 21st Century, but also "the most rapidly negotiated human rights treaty in the history of international law; and the first to emerge from lobbying conducted extensively through the Internet." December 2006.
Working text (pdf)of the draft convention - see Annex II of the report of the Seventh session of the Ad Hoc Commmittee on a Comprehensive and Integral International Convention on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities (A/AC.265/2006/2).
1. In its resolution 56/168 of 19 December 2001, the General Assembly decided to establish the Ad Hoc Committee on a Comprehensive and Integral International Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities, based on the holistic approach in the work done in the fields of social development, human rights and non-discrimination and taking into account the recommendations of the Commission on Human Rights and the Commission for Social Development.
2. In its resolution 60/232 of 23 December 2005, the General Assembly decided that the Ad Hoc Committee should hold, within existing resources, prior to the sixty-first session of the General Assembly, two sessions in 2006, one of 15 working days from 16 January to 3 February, in order to achieve a complete reading of the draft text of a convention prepared by the Chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee, and one of 10 working days from 7 to 18 August.
After five years of negotiations, countries meeting at United Nations Headquarters in New York have agreed on a new treaty to protect the rights of persons with disabilities. Revisions and amendments proposed at the Eighth Session; Documents of the Eighth Session; Participation of NGOs; Participation of National Human Rights Institutions; Side Events and Press Releases.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
"The work of this Committee is essential for persons with disabilities. It is crucial to ensure that the international human rights system provides effective protection for all human rights for all. I wish you much success in your continuing deliberations!" Pdf format.
Ad Hoc Committee on a Comprehensive and Integral International Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities: Expert paper on existing monitoring mechanisms, possible relevant improvements and possible innovations in monitoring mechanisms for a comprehensive and integral international convention on the protection and promotion of the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities. Seventh session
New York, 16 January -3 February 2006, pdf format.
People living with disabilities in Vietnam, particularly those affected by the Agent Orange, is a particularly disadvantaged population regarding their demographic and socioeconomic characteristics facing multiple and critical vulnerabilities in all spheres of life, states this report. April 2008.