NEWS: Nepal signs disability rights treaty and protocol
The Latest Development: Nepal signs the CRPD
Nepal became the most recent signatory to the international Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and the accompanying optional protocol on January 3, 2008. A total of 121 countries have now signed the CRPD and 68 have signed the optional protocol. Most of these countries, however, have not yet ratified either.
Ratifying versus Signing a Treaty
Signing a treaty is not the same as ratifying it. A signatory country is not required to obey the treaty: it only needs to avoid actively violating it. A country does not become a “states party” to a treaty until they fully ratify it. Becoming a states party (ratifying a treaty) means the country agrees to be legally bound by the treaty.
The CRPD needs to be ratified by 20 countries before it can take full force; it has now been ratified by 14, including Bangladesh, Croatia, Cuba, El Salvador, Gabon, Hungary, India, Jamaica, Mexcio, Namibia, Nicaragua, Panama, South Africa, and Spain. The Optional Protocol needs to be ratified by 10 countries before it becomes enforceable; it has now been ratified by 7, including Croatia, Hungary, Mexico, Namibia, Panama, South Africa, and Spain.
The Background: The CRPD and the Optional Protocol
The CRPD is an international human rights treaty meant to protect a range of rights for people with disabilties. A few examples include the right to liberty; to freedom from torture, violent exploitation, and abuse; to healthcare; to education; to privacy; to sign contracts; to accessible public transit and public accommodations.
Although several other international human rights treaties are already in force–most famously, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights–many of these treaties do not mention disabled people at all. The few that do usually do not cover their right to full participation in society.
The Optional Protocol gives people who have suffered human rights violations another option for pursuing justice. In countries that only ratify the CRPD without the Optional Protocol, a person who feels their rights under the treaty have been violated can use the appropriate channels within their country to correct that violation. For example, they may be able to file a complaint with local or national legal authorities or bring a lawsuit through the courts. But if all national-level systems fail to achieve justice, then the Optional Protocol allows a person to pursue redress by applying to the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Individuals and organizations seeking to join the global movement to maximize the number of countries ratifying the CRPD and the Optional Protocols may wish to join the organization RatifyNow. Individuals may also participate in email-based discussions on the global movement by joining the RatifyNow Listserve.
We Can Do learned about Nepal becoming a signatory via an announcement sent out by Ghulam Nabi Nazimani.
Catch up on the latest news about the CRPD and other topics.