|U.N. Adopts Landmark Convention, Protecting Rights of Persons with Disabilities
December 13, 2006 – The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has been adopted by the United Nations General Assembly. After nearly five years of negotiations, Landmine Survivors Network (LSN), and governments and disability organizations from around the world, applaud the adoption of this Convention, the first major U.N. human rights treaty of this century. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan hailed the agreement on the Convention “as a historic achievement for the 650 million people with disabilities around the world.”
Together with the Convention, the General Assembly has adopted an optional protocol which will allow individuals to complain to the international monitoring body, as well as allowing the monitoring body to undertake in-country inquiries.
LSN along with other members of the International Disability Caucus (IDC) has been instrumental in lobbying for the inclusion of this article to ensure that the Convention is held in the same esteem as other human rights treaties. “This is possibly the most comprehensive human rights treaty ever negotiated, and in record time,” said Jerry White, LSN co-founder and executive director.
White continued, “The IDC representation bodes well for increased collaboration between civil society and governments in future international processes – including the treaty implementation.”
The Convention will be open for signature on March 30, 2007. LSN will continue its work on the Convention by committing to a global push to secure at least 20 country ratifications to ensure that the treaty becomes international law by 2008.
Five years of work culminated in round-the-clock negotiations in New York City on August 25, 2006 where more than 100 countries voted to adopt the draft text. LSN played a leadership role in this process as a co-founder of the International Disability Caucus – a coalition of more than 90 disability groups and allies who helped draft the text and build momentum and political will in support of this Convention.
It is estimated that persons with disabilities make up 10 percent of the world’s population—about 650 million people. Proponents of the Convention maintain that the treaty is necessary because persons with disabilities represent one of the most marginalized groups, and their human rights have been routinely ignored or denied throughout much of the world. While the Convention does not create new rights, it specifically prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities in all areas of life, including civil rights, access to justice and education, health services, and transportation.
This new international standard is expected to improve the lives of millions of people, including survivors, particularly in the mine-affected communities where LSN works.
The Convention text can be found at: http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/enable/rights/convtexte.htm
Above: Deputy Secretary-General Mark Malloch Brown delivers the message of the Secretary-General Kofi Annan at Wednesday's historic General Assembly plenary meeting, preparing to adopt the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the first human rights treaty of the 21st century, at UN Headquarters in New York.