Disability Rights Treaty on Verge of Making History?
The United Nations, and more than 600 million people with disabilities around the world will be watching the 25th of September, 2007, when nations gather at the 62nd session of the UN General Assembly. This day will offer an opportunity for nations to ratify any treaties that they have signed but not yet put into force–including the UN Convention for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).
The CRPD declares the rights of disabled people to be protected from discrimination, exploitation, and abuse; the rights of people with disabilities to an education access to their physical environment and to information and communication; and describes many other basic human rights. Special attention is given to protecting the rights of women and children with disabilities.
Although 102 nations have signed the disability rights treaty, it cannot legally take force until at least 20 of these nations take the next step and formally ratify it. Signing a convention (treaty) merely indicates a country’s agreement with the main idea of the convention: signing the convention without ratifying it does not legally bind the country to follow what the treaty says. A country is only legally bound to obey a convention when it ratifies the convention. So far, only 6 countries have fully ratified the CRPD: Croatia, Cuba, Hungary, Jamaica, Panama and Namibia.
Disability rights advocates are hoping that enough countries will follow suit this September 25 to put the CRPD into legal force within the next few days. Whether or not this occurs, however, advocates will need to continue pushing for their own countries to sign, ratify, and fully implement the disability rights treaty before all disabled citizens can fully enjoy their rights as described in the CRPD.
For more detail on the events of September 25, follow these two links:
You can also read the original text of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in English, Spanish, French, Arabic, Russian, or Chinese at http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/enable/rights/convtexte.htm
Or you can read the same convention re-written into plain (simple) English at We Can Do in the post entitled “UN Conventions on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Plain English.”
See if YOUR country is a signatory at http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/enable/convbycountry.htm
If you are working to persuade your country to sign, ratify, or implement the CRPD, then you may find it useful to consult two toolkits produced by Disabled People International, both available at http://www.icrpd.net in English, Spanish, and French. The ratification toolkit advises on how grassroots advocates can help persuade their country to sign and ratify the CRPD; the implementation toolkit advises on how advocates can ensure that a country implements (obeys) the CRPD after ratifying it.
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