UN convention on disability rights reaches milestone in signatories
11 July 2007 – United Nations officials say the global treaty to protect the rights of the world’s estimated 650 million people with disabilities could take effect by early next year after Qatar this week became the 100th country to sign the landmark pact.
The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities will enter into force 30 days after the 20th country ratifies the treaty, but so far only Jamaica has taken the step of ratification. The UN Secretariat for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities estimates that the next 19 ratifications could be reached by as early as the end of this year.
UN disability expert Thomas Schindlmayr said today that the pact is designed to maintain human rights “standards that the international community has agreed upon for all.”
He said as many as two-thirds of UN Member States do not have any legal protection for people with disabilities, even though they comprise one in 10 of the global population.
The Convention is supposed to “ensure that people with disabilities enjoy the same human rights that everyone else does in their respective societies… It is not granting any ‘new’ human rights.” Since opening for signature on 30 March, the Convention has quickly garnered support from Member States. The 100 signatories to the treaty so far include 55 countries that have also signed the Optional Protocol. That protocol allows for individuals and groups to petition the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities once all national recourse and procedures have been exhausted.
“We are pleased by the commitment shown by so many Member States,” Mr. Schindlmayr said. Adopted by the General Assembly last December, the Convention was one of the fastest treaties ever negotiated at the UN. The pact provides that States which ratify it should enact laws and other measures to improve disability rights, and also abolish legislation, customs and practices that discriminate against persons with disabilities.
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