UN adopts landmark bill for disabled rights
CBC News Posted: Dec 13, 2006
The UN General Assembly Wednesday adopted the first UN convention to protect the rights of the disabled.
The convention, which will protect the rights of more than 600 million disabled persons, requires countries to adopt laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of any form of disability, from blindness to mental illness.
Its purpose is to “Promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities, and to promote respect for their inherent dignity.”
It also protects the rights that have already been granted, such as ensuring wheelchair-accessible buildings.
Upon ratification participating nations must eliminate any existing laws that discriminate against the disabled.
Nations will be largely responsible for enforcing the rights, though an optional protocol to the treaty binds states accused of violating the terms to respond to a complaint through a proceeding before a special committee.
First human rights treaty of 21st century
It was also the first human rights treaty of the 21st century and will affect about 10 per cent of the world’s population, according to UN estimates.
Theoretically, there should be no need for such a convention, because people with disabilities are included in existing human rights conventions, said New Zealand Ambassador Don MacKay, who chaired the committee.
“The reality, unfortunately, has not followed the theory. The existing human rights instruments have fallen far short in their protection of the human rights and fundamental freedoms guaranteed to persons with disabilities.”
The committee has been working on the new convention since 2001 with the help of disabled persons.
The UN has been actively involved in disabled rights since it declared 1981 the International Year of the Disabled under the slogan “Full Participation and Equality.”
In 1993, the UN’s Vienna Declaration for Human Rights reaffirmed that all human rights and fundamental freedoms included persons with disabilities.
Previous efforts were ‘limited’
Up until now, the UN’s actions have been limited, said Jim Derksen, a member of the human rights committee with the Council of Canadians with Disabilities. Derksen was involved in parts of the planning process for the new convention.
He told CBC.ca that this new convention is a “reason to celebrate” because only in about 40 countries are the rights of disabled persons articulated in law. In some countries, a disabled person’s right to marry, vote and even travel are restricted.
The convention “interprets what the Universal Convention on Human Rights means for people with disabilities,” he said.
Derkson says the effect of this convention willreach much farther than the 10 per cent estimated by the UN.
“In the developed world, where the life expectancy is 70 years or older, the average person lives eight years of their life with a disability,” he says.
Laurie Beachell, the national co-ordinator of the Council of Canadians with Disabilities, calls the convention “tremendously exciting.”
His organization was involved in the planning of the convention, with one member attending all of the meetings in New York.
“I think this convention goes a long way towards recognizing the equality of all citizens and the need to address the needs of people with disabilities worldwide,
Proclaimed by General Assembly resolution 3447 (XXX) of 9 December 1975
The General Assembly ,
Mindful of the pledge made by Member States, under the Charter of the United Nations to take joint and separate action in co-operation with the Organization to promote higher standards of living, full employment and conditions of economic and social progress and development,
Reaffirming its faith in human rights and fundamental freedoms and in the principles of peace, of the dignity and worth of the human person and of social justice proclaimed in the Charter,
Recalling the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenants on Human Rights, the Declaration of the Rights of the Child and the Declaration on the Rights of Mentally Retarded Persons, as well as the standards already set for social progress in the constitutions, conventions, recommendations and resolutions of the International Labour Organisation, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the World Health Organization, the United Nations Children’s Fund and other organizations concerned,
Recalling also Economic and Social Council resolution 1921 (LVIII) of 6 May 1975 on the prevention of disability and the rehabilitation of disabled persons,
Emphasizing that the Declaration on Social Progress and Development has proclaimed the necessity of protecting the rights and assuring the welfare and rehabilitation of the physically and mentally disadvantaged,
Bearing in mind the necessity of preventing physical and mental disabilities and of assisting disabled persons to develop their abilities in the most varied fields of activities and of promoting their integration as far as possible in normal life,
Aware that certain countries, at their present stage of development, can devote only limited efforts to this end,
Proclaims this Declaration on the Rights of Disabled Persons and calls for national and international action to ensure that it will be used as a common basis and frame of reference for the protection of these rights:
1. The term “disabled person” means any person unable to ensure by himself or herself, wholly or partly, the necessities of a normal individual and/or social life, as a result of deficiency, either congenital or not, in his or her physical or mental capabilities.
2. Disabled persons shall enjoy all the rights set forth in this Declaration. These rights shall be granted to all disabled persons without any exception whatsoever and without distinction or discrimination on the basis of race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinions, national or social origin, state of wealth, birth or any other situation applying either to the disabled person himself or herself or to his or her family.
3. Disabled persons have the inherent right to respect for their human dignity. Disabled persons, whatever the origin, nature and seriousness of their handicaps and disabilities, have the same fundamental rights as their fellow-citizens of the same age, which implies first and foremost the right to enjoy a decent life, as normal and full as possible.
4. Disabled persons have the same civil and political rights as other human beings; paragraph 7 of the Declaration on the Rights of Mentally Retarded Persons applies to any possible limitation or suppression of those rights for mentally disabled persons.
5. Disabled persons are entitled to the measures designed to enable them to become as self-reliant as possible.
6. Disabled persons have the right to medical, psychological and functional treatment, including prosthetic and orthetic appliances, to medical and social rehabilitation, education, vocational training and rehabilitation, aid, counselling, placement services and other services which will enable them to develop their capabilities and skills to the maximum and will hasten the processes of their social integration or reintegration.
7. Disabled persons have the right to economic and social security and to a decent level of living. They have the right, according to their capabilities, to secure and retain employment or to engage in a useful, productive and remunerative occupation and to join trade unions.
8. Disabled persons are entitled to have their special needs taken into consideration at all stages of economic and social planning.
9. Disabled persons have the right to live with their families or with foster parents and to participate in all social, creative or recreational activities. No disabled person shall be subjected, as far as his or her residence is concerned, to differential treatment other than that required by his or her condition or by the improvement which he or she may derive therefrom. If the stay of a disabled person in a specialized establishment is indispensable, the environment and living conditions therein shall be as close as possible to those of the normal life of a person of his or her age.
10. Disabled persons shall be protected against all exploitation, all regulations and all treatment of a discriminatory, abusive or degrading nature.
11. Disabled persons shall be able to avail themselves of qualified legal aid when such aid proves indispensable for the protection of their persons and property. If judicial proceedings are instituted against them, the legal procedure applied shall take their physical and mental condition fully into account.
12. Organizations of disabled persons may be usefully consulted in all matters regarding the rights of disabled persons.
13. Disabled persons, their families and communities shall be fully informed, by all appropriate means, of the rights contained in this Declaration.
See full text version here. https://wheelchairrights.wordpress.com/2012/01/16/u-n-treaty-for-rights-of-persons-with-disabilities/