UN Convention Adopted To Protect Equality Of Disabled People

Yesterday, The United Nations General Assembly adopted a landmark disability convention, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities the first human rights treaty of the twenty-first century and one that United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said represents the “dawn of a new era” for around 650 million Disabled People worldwide.

‘Today 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. This Convention is a remarkable and forward-looking document,” Mr. Annan said in a speech read out by Deputy Secretary-General Mark Malloch Brown.

The convention sets out in detail the rights of disabled people. It covers civil and political rights, accessibility, participation and inclusion, education, health, employment and social protection.
The convention also recognises that attitudes need to change if disabled people are to achieve equality.
 It will be open for signature and ratification on
30 March 2007, and will enter into force after it has been ratified by 20 countries. 

The convention recognises the social model’s definition of disability. It states that ‘disability is an evolving concept and that disability results from the interaction between persons with impairments and attitudinal and environmental barriers that hinders their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others’. Despite this, the convention continually uses ‘people with disabilities’ rather than the term ‘Disabled People’  

The convention runs to fifty articles although article 19 may be of particular interest to blog readers as it is entitled ‘Living independently and being included in the community’. It says:

‘States Parties to this Convention recognize the equal right of all persons with disabilities to live in the community, with choices equal to others, and shall take effective and appropriate measures to facilitate full enjoyment by persons with disabilities of this right and their full inclusion and participation in the community, including by ensuring that:

(a) Persons with disabilities have the opportunity to choose their place of residence and where and with whom they live on an equal basis with others and are not obliged to live in a particular living arrangement;

(b) Persons with disabilities have access to a range of in-home, residential and other community support services, including personal assistance necessary to support living and inclusion in the community, and to prevent isolation or segregation from the community;

(c) Community services and facilities for the general population are available on an equal basis to persons with disabilities and are responsive to their needs.’

Article 24 covers Education and emphasises that Disabled People should be able to ‘access an inclusive, quality and free primary education and secondary education on an equal basis with others in the communities in which they live.’, and that they ‘receive the support required, within the general education system, to facilitate their effective education;’

The convention as a whole makes interesting reading and of further interest will be how quickly countries ratify the convention and what effect it will have, around the world, to protect Disabled People’s human rights. 

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