NEWS: Tunisia 19th to Ratify Intl Disability Rights Treaty

Posted on 2 April 2008. Filed under: Cross-Disability, Human Rights, Middle East and North Africa, News | Tags: , , , , , , |

RatifyNow has announced that Tunisia ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) earlier today. This North African nation is the 19th country to ratify the first legally-binding international human rights instrument. Thirty days after the 20th nation ratifies the CRPD, the human rights treaty will go into force–meaning that all ratifying nations will be obliged to obey it from that point on.

The 20th ratification is expected to happen very, very soon. The milestone ratification will be announced at RatifyNow.org as soon as possible after it occurs and is confirmed with trusted sources.

Among the 19 countries to ratify the CRPD, 11 also have ratified the accompanying Optional Protocol. The Optional Protocol gives people with disabilities in ratifying countries the option to pursue redress (justice) at the international level if their rights continue to be violated under the CRPD. The Optional Protocol will enter into force at the same time as the CRPD, 30 days after the 20th ratification of the CRPD.

Both the CRPD and the Optional Protocol will be legally binding only for countries that choose to ratify them. However, 126 countries have signed the CRPD and 71 have signed the Optional Protocol. Signing either treaty is a country’s way of signaling interest in ratifying it at a future date. Becoming a signatory country also obligates a nation to avoid pursuing any new action that could directly violate the treaty.

Find out if your country is among the signatories at

http://www.un.org/disabilities/countries.asp?navid=12&pid=166

Learn more about the CRPD by reading the RatifyNow FAQ at:

http://ratifynow.org/ratifynow-faq/

And learn about the Optional Protocol at:

http://ratifynow.org/un-convention/the-optional-protocol/

Check the RatifyNow.org web site soon to learn about upcoming events to celebrate and promote the CRPD on or near May 12.

Are you planning an event related to the CRPD in your country? RatifyNow would like to know at RatifyNow@gmail.com!

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Read the RatifyNow CRPD Blog Swarm 2008 on the International Disability Rights Treaty!

Posted on 29 March 2008. Filed under: Announcements, Cognitive Impairments, Cross-Disability, Human Rights, Mobility Impariments, Psychiatric Disabilities | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

From Australia … from the USA … from India … from New Zealand … from Fiji … from the Philippines …

Writers and bloggers from around the world joined together to help celebrate and promote the first legally binding international human rights instrument to protect the rights of people with disabilities — the international disability rights treaty, called the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

They celebrated by writing blog posts for the RatifyNow CRPD Blog Swarm 2008, which can now be read at
http://ratifynow.org/2008/03/29/ratifynow-crpd-blog-swarm-2008/

What did they write about? Some of the topics include …

… The story of one advocate who watched the birth of the CRPD among grassroots advocates with disabilities and others in the 1990s …
… How the CRPD could deliver new hope for people in India with mental disabilities …
… How the CRPD represents an evolution from the charity/medical model of disability to the social or human rights-based model …
… How the CRPD could make travel go a little more smoothly for tourists with disabilities …
… Why the CRPD matters for people who use personal assistance services or who are seeking the freedom to explore their own sexual expression …
… An allegorical tale about farmers, spoons, and plows: Why the CRPD is well worth celebrating and why our work isn’t done just because the CRPD is about to take full legal force …
… And more …

All at the RatifyNow CRPD Blog Swarm 2008, and all available by following the link to:

http://ratifynow.org/2008/03/29/ratifynow-crpd-blog-swarm-2008/

Celebrate and learn about the CRPD through the RatifyNow CRPD Blog Swarm 2008.

Then invite other people to do the same. Please circulate this notice or post it at your blog or web site — with, of course, a link to the blog swarm at

http://ratifynow.org/2008/03/29/ratifynow-crpd-blog-swarm-2008/

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OPINION: The Farmer, the Spoon, and the Plow

Posted on 29 March 2008. Filed under: Human Rights, Opinion | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

The Farmer, the Spoon, and the Plow: Why the International Disability Rights Treaty (CRPD) is Worth Celebrating

This allegorical tale is meant to highlight why the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) is well worth celebrating—and why our work isn’t done just because it’s about to enter into force.

Historical Note: The CRPD is an international treaty intended to protect a wide range of human rights for people with disabilities, including the right to live in the community (not an institution), to have access to public services, to be free of discrimination, and more. It does not create new rights. Rather, it is meant to ensure that people with disabilities are able to access the same rights that other people in their country already enjoy. This tale was written a month before the CRPD first entered into force on May 3, 2008, with 20 ratifying countries. Today, in October 2009, more than 70 countries have ratified the CRPD and more than 140 countries have signed it. The full text of the CRPD, and a full list of countries signing or ratifying the CRPD, is available at http://www.un.org/disabilities. A country is not fully obligated to obey the treaty until after it not only signs but also ratifies the CRPD.

Before the CRPD Was Created
Once upon a time, there were 650 million farmers who tended to thousands of fields in 200 nations. Some of the fields were more fertile than other fields. Some received more rain and sun than others. Some fields were filled with rocks and other obstacles that made it very hard for farmers to plant and harvest food. In order to do any plowing, the farmers first had to remove the stones. All the fields were very large: it could easily take a farmer many years to finish plowing or harvesting even the smallest field. But even in size, the fields varied greatly.

It was not only the fields that were so dramatically different from each other. Each farmer also had a different set of tools. Some farmers had only tiny teaspoons, some of which were broken and not even working properly. Some farmers had table spoons or even large stirring spoons. A few farmers had been taught how to make shovels and were able to use those.

Farmers with shovels were usually able to plow their fields more quickly than farmers with teaspoons. But sometimes a farmer with a shovel had to clear away so many stones from her field that she would finish far less plowing than a farmer with only a teaspoon but an easier field.

But all the farmers were frustrated. No matter how easy their field was to plow, or how fertile it was, or how much dirt their spoons could hold, all their fields were simply too large to complete with the tools they had. Some farmers despaired of their task, gave up completely, and starved. Some farmers continued to work in grim determination and were able to grow a little food for their trouble. But it was never enough—not because they were lazy or greedy but simply because their tools weren’t powerful enough.

Creating the CRPD; Signing it; Ratifying it
Some of the farmers decided to do something about their deplorable living conditions. These farmers worked together to build a set of plows and agreed to make all the plows available to any farmer who needed them. They named their set of plows the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Sometimes they referred to them more informally as the international disability rights treaty. Or they refered to them as the CRPD for short.

Some of the farmers lived in governments that usually did little to invest in the needs of their farmers. Consequently, these governments choose not to allow their farmers to use the new plows at all. Some of the farmers who had been forbidden to use the plows banded together into various national and international organizations, such as RatifyNow, to pressure their governments to deliver the plows to them. In some cases, the farmers have had success and can now use the CRPD. In other cases, the farmers are still fighting but are experiencing progress.

Some governments made promises to buy these new plows for their farmers. But then they locked the plows into a shed and never got around to allowing the farmers to actually use them. In some cases, farmers in these countries decided the plows were useless for them. After all, their government had bought the plows, but the plows accomplished nothing for them.

In other cases, the farmers realized that the plows themselves were not flawed–the real problem was in the fact that the plows were not being used. They, too, organized themselves to put pressure on their governments to make better use of the plows. After many years of hard work, they convinced their governments to unlock the plows so they could be used.

Now We Have the CRPD, Our Work is Done. Or is it?
Some farmers were allowed to use the plows but did not understand why they would want to. “Look, we already have tools for plowing our fields,” they said. “And what good have they done for us? They still take forever to use. Why would a plow be any better?” They ignored the plows and continued using the tools they knew. They continued to have all the same troubles they had before the plows were built.

Other farmers, at first, were thrilled to have the plows. They allowed the plow to sit in their fields and immediately stopped working. “The plow will take care of all our problems now,” they said. “After, that’s what it’s meant to do, isn’t it? It will fight our poverty and starvation for us. When our governments try to oppress us with harmful laws and regulations, it will fight back for us. When schools deny our children the right to enter the classroom, or when clinics refuse to provide us with health services, then the plows will tell them to stop discriminating against us. The schools and clinics will immediately obey the plows and give us our rights. It’s as simple as that.”

After a few years of allowing their plows to sit untended in their fields, these farmers realized that their fields were still unplowed. The farmers, for their part, were still poor and hungry, their children were still uneducated, and their families were still sick.

They became angry and blamed the plows for being faulty. They sneered at the plows and at the people who had built them. “These plows sure look pretty, but what good are they?” These farmers said. “What do they actually accomplish? If these plows are so wonderful then why are we still poor, hungry, uneducated, and sick?” They abandoned the plows, and so the plows did nothing for them.

Why Do We Need to Learn About the CRPD?
Another group of farmers started using the plows, but they didn’t read the instruction manual that came with them. They did the best they could without the instruction manual. Sometimes they found that they did accomplish more with the plows than they ever had with their spoons and shovels. But still, they were severely disappointed. The plows were not nearly as productive for them as they had initially hoped. They continued using the plows because it was what they had, but they became angry that the plows accomplished so little for them.

Fully Implementing the CRPD
Yet another group of farmers were careful to read the instruction manual thoroughly. They used every feature the plows had in every situation for which these features were helpful.

Farming still did not become magically easy for any of the farmers. They still had to work very hard. Some farmers still had far larger fields than other farmers, and thus took longer to finish their work. Some farmers had to work very slowly because they had to spend so much time clearing away stones before they could use their plows at all. These farmers, too, took longer than other farmers to finish their work.

But all the farmers found that their plows were a vast improvement over the tools they had used before. They were thrilled with the plows and decided to celebrate them.

The Moral of the Tale
So what’s the moral of this allegorical tale?

First, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) is potentially a very powerful tool that could accomplish a great deal for people with disabilities around the world. That’s a good thing because the world’s 650 million disabled people are far more likely to live in poverty, or be targeted for violence, or be left behind during natural disasters and wars. The CRPD, if properly understood and properly used, could help with all of these challenges.

But, second, it is only a tool and nothing more. It’s not a magic wand or an instant cure for all that ails. A plow cannot help a farmer if the farmer has no access to it; similarly, the CRPD will be of limited help to people with disabilities if not enough countries ratify it. 

A plow continues to be useless if it is locked up in a shed. Similarly, even a ratified human rights treaty is useless if governments fail to take responsibility for implementing it. Governments must not merely ratify the CRPD but also create and pass laws that are consistent with the CRPD. Governments must abolish laws that are inconsistent with its intent and spirit. And governments must enforce its laws by taking action when they are violated.

The Importance of Grassroots Action
But it is not only governments that must take responsibility for the success of the CRPD. Ordinary citizens, with or without disabilities, must take responsibility for reading the instruction manual—in other words, educating themselves about the CRPD. Then they must learn how to use the CRPD to its maximum potential.

For example, if they realize that disabled people in their country are being denied the chance to go to school, they can go to their government and to the schools and teachers themselves to argue, “The CRPD requires that disabled people have the right to an education. This country has ratified the CRPD. Therefore, if disabled people still face barriers to obtaining an education, then the government and schools are failing in their legal obligations.” This argument could help persuade governments to create better laws, persuade schools to create better policies, and teachers to reconsider their teaching practices.

But organizations can only use these arguments if they first understand that the CRPD addresses the right to an education (see article 24 in the CRPD).

Removing Stones From the Field
Furthermore, people must be prepared to identify and remove obstacles that make it harder to fully implement the CRPD. In other words, they still need to find and remove the stones from their field. The CRPD cannot do this for them.

For example, attitudes and beliefs about disabled people are often a barrier to the full achievement of human rights even after good-quality laws might be put in place. If too many people mistakenly believe that people with disabilities cannot be productive, then few employers will give jobs to disabled people no matter what the law says. This is an obstacle that must be removed before the CRPD can be fully effective.

Article 8 of the CRPD, in fact, clearly acknowledges the importance of attitudes as a potential barrier to the success of the CRPD. This article calls upon ratifying governments to raise awareness in general society about the rights of persons with disabilities.

But the best teachers about the true capability of people with disabilities are people with disabilities themselves. The government can only support the work of educating the public and provide the resources to help make it happen. The disability community still needs to take the lead.

Achieving Human Rights
Just like farmers could still tend to their fields without a plow, disability advocates could still advocate for their rights without the CRPD. But in both cases, their work will be much harder without the proper tools.

Farmers who fail to use their plows will fail to accomplish anything with them. And farmers who fail to remove the stones from their fields will not get very far either. Similarly, disability advocates will not benefit from the CRPD if they do not learn how to use it, or if they neglect to remove the barriers that are blocking the CRPD from success.

But once they do these things, they will start to unleash the true power of the CRPD. It will still take many long years of hard work to realize the full potential of the CRPD. But during these years of sweat and tears, disability advocates can potentially accomplish far more with the CRPD than they could without it.

That’s why it’s worth celebrating the CRPD.



This blog post was written as a contribution for the RatifyNow CRPD Blog Swarm 2008, which was organized to help celebrate and promote the CRPD. A blog swarm is an event in which multiple bloggers or writers agree to write about the same topic at about the same time—in this case, about the CRPD. Please follow the link to read the other entries in the blog swarm.

http://ratifynow.org/2008/03/29/ratifynow-crpd-blog-swarm-2008/

You can also educate yourself about the CRPD by reading the RatifyNow FAQ.

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Write to Celebrate and Promote the International Disability Rights Treaty

Posted on 26 March 2008. Filed under: Cross-Disability, Human Rights | Tags: , , , , , , , |

You may recall from earlier publicity that RatifyNow.org is organizing a “blog swarm” in which bloggers/vloggers and writers agree to write or vlog about the same topic at about the same time. In this case, the purpose is to celebrate, promote, and educate people about the international disability rights treaty, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). I am posting this announcement here because I hope to entice more people from AFRICA, ASIA, LATIN AMERICA, the MIDDLE EAST, and elsewhere to participate. Perhaps you could write about how the CRPD relates to your work in fighting poverty or promoting human rights among people with disabilities in your country.

For those of you who are thinking about writing a contribution for the RatifyNow CRPD Blog Swarm 2008, RatifyNow posted a small “taste” of what a few of the early contributers have submitted already at:

http://ratifynow.org/2008/03/25/sneak-preview-for-the-upcoming-ratifynow-crpd-blog-swarm-2008/

This is not the real thing. The actual blog swarm is still scheduled to go live on March 30 in New Zealand time. (In the rest of the world, it will still be the 29th.) RatifyNow is sharing this small sampling from among the early submissions in the hope that they will help inspire others to write more blog posts to supplement them.

Learn more about the RatifyNow CRPD Blog Swarm 2008 and how YOU can participate at:

http://ratifynow.org/latest-news/blog-swarm/

Contributions can be submitted to RatifyNow@gmail.com. Please use the phrase “BLOG SWARM” somewhere in your subject line. If you have a blog, send the exact URL for your vlog or blog post, your name (or screen name), and the name of your blog. If you don’t have a blog then send the full text of your blog post, your name (or desired screen name), and a SHORT suggested title for your blog post. RatifyNow will try to find a home for it.

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Writing to Promote Disability Rights!

Posted on 21 March 2008. Filed under: Announcements, Call for Papers, Cross-Disability, Human Rights, Opportunities | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Calling all Writers for the RatifyNow CRPD Blog Swarm 2008!
Are you good with words? Do you care about protecting the human rights of people with disabilities? Are you looking for a way to celebrate the first anniversary of the international disability rights treaty, called the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), on March 30, 2008?

Please participate in the RatifyNow CRPD Blog Swarm 2008!

What’s a Blog Swarm?
A blog swarm is when many bloggers agree to write blog posts on the same theme at about the same time. Writers who don’t have a blog can ask someone who does to publish their post for them. A blog swarm can increase public awareness of an issue.

Why Celebrate the CRPD?
Does it make you angry when people with disabilities are denied equal access to educational opportunities or good quality healthcare? Does it horrify you when people with disabilities are left behind during times of natural disasters and war? Does reading about the abuse and torture of people with disabilities make you want to do something about it? These are all human rights violations.

When countries ratify the international disability rights treaty (CRPD), this obligates them to create laws to protect the human rights of people with disabilities. With these laws in place, the disability communities of ratifying countries will be in a stronger position to advocate for themselves—and be heard. That’s worth celebrating.

So, What’s the RatifyNow CRPD Blog Swarm 2008?
Writers are being asked to submit blog posts about the CRPD via email to RatifyNow@gmail.com at any time between now and March 27, 2008. If you don’t have a blog, we’ll try to find a home for your blog post.

For more details about the CRPD and the celebratory blog swarm, please follow the link to:

http://ratifynow.org/latest-news/blog-swarm/

Here, you will find links to the original announcement about the RatifyNow CRPD Blog Swarm 2008 and how you can participate; a page that can help you educate yourself about the CRPD before you start writing about it; suggested topic ideas for you to consider; and suggested guidelines for people who are not familiar with how to write blog posts.

Then What Happens?
On March 30, 2008, come to http://www.RatifyNow.org to start reading what all the participating writers and bloggers say about the CRPD!

What Else?
Please help make the RatifyNow CRPD Blog Swarm 2008 a success by making sure people know about it! You may post this notice at your blog or other web site, or pass it along to people you know.



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RESOURCE: Learning about the International Disability Rights Treaty (CRPD)

Posted on 18 March 2008. Filed under: Announcements, Cross-Disability, Human Rights, Resources | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

If you have been watching this space then you know that the organization RatifyNow will be celebrating the first anniversary of the international disability rights treaty (CRPD) on March 30 with the RatifyNow CRPD Blog Swarm 2008. That means bloggers and writers from around the world are being invited to write blog posts about the treaty, which is called the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). RatifyNow will help readers find all the blog posts on March 30, 2008, by gathering all the links in one location at its web site.

But some writers may be hesitant to participate because they aren’t sure that they know enough about the CRPD to write about it. Others may simply want to learn more about the CRPD for their own personal knowledge. Mainstream international development professionals may want to better understand how the CRPD will affect their own work in helping all people–with or without disabilities–fight poverty in developing countries. Or, disability advocates may wish to learn how they can use the CRPD to help disabled people in their country achieve their human rights.

RatifyNow has assembled a list of resources that can help people learn more about the CRPD–whether you have only five minutes to spare or more than 30. Follow the link to:

http://ratifynow.org/2008/03/17/researching-the-crpd-on-line/



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This blog post is copyrighted to We Can Do (wecando.wordpress.com). Currently, only two web sites have on-going permission to syndicate (re-post) We Can Do blog posts in full: BlogAfrica.com and www.RatifyNow.org. Other sites are most likely plagiarizing this post without permission.

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NEWS: San Marino to Ratify Intl Disability Rights Treaty

Posted on 23 February 2008. Filed under: Human Rights, News | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The RatifyNow web site reports that the small, Southern European country of San Marino may be ratifying the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) as early as today, February 22, 2008. This means that the CRPD would now require only three more countries before it can go into full legal force. Watch the RatifyNow web site for official confirmation of San Marino’s ratification. Read the RatifyNow FAQ to learn more about the process for ratifying the CRPD and what the CRPD means for disabled people around the world.

San Marino, with its population of 29,000 people, is in a small enclave within Italy.

RatifyNow is an organization working to maximize the number of countries that sign, ratify, and implement the CRPD.



Most of the text in this post is taken from RatifyNow.org with permission of author.

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Also at We Can Do: catch up with the news; explore resources, toolkits, or funding and fellowship opportunities that might be helpful for your organization; find research, reports, papers, or statistics; or look up conferences, events, call for papers, or education/training opportunities.



This blog post is copyrighted to We Can Do (wecando.wordpress.com). Currently, only two web sites have on-going permission to syndicate (re-post) We Can Do blog posts: BlogAfrica.com and RatifyNow.org. If you are reading this anywhere else, then you are most likely reading a web site that regularly plagiarizes the work of other people.

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NEWS: Guinea Ratifies CRPD and Optional Protocol; Benin and UAE Sign

Posted on 11 February 2008. Filed under: Cross-Disability, Human Rights, Middle East and North Africa, News, Sub-Saharan Africa Region | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The disability communities in three countries have reason to celebrate: Guinea, Benin, and United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Guinea has now ratified both the international Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and the accompanying Optional Protocol. This brings the total number of countries ratifying the CRPD to 16 and the total number of countries ratifying the Optional Protocol to 10. The CRPD needs to be ratified by 20 countries before it and the Optional Protocol can take full legal force.

In addition, Benin has signed both the CRPD and the Optional Protocol. United Arab Emirates also signed the CRPD, but not the Optional Protocol. Guinea, Benin, and UAE all ratified or signed these international treaties on February 8, 2008. These newest signatures brings the total number of signatories for the CRPD to 125 countries, and the total number of signatories for the Optional Protocol to 70 countries.

The CRPD is an international disability rights treaty. A few of the rights it is meant to protect include the right to education; health; work; respect for privacy; freedom from exploitation, violence, and abuse; and the right to an adequate standard of living. The Optional Protocol gives disabled people in ratifying countries another option for pursuing redress if they feel their rights under the CRPD have been violated. Specifically, it allows disabled people to bring their case to an international Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The CRPD was first opened for countries to sign or ratify on March 30, 2007. A full list of the countries that have ratified the CRPD or the treaty is at the United Nations disabilities web site at http://www.un.org/disabilities/default.asp?id=257.

Signing an international treaty, such as the CRPD and the Optional Protocol, is an intermediary step toward ratification. Merely signing a treaty does not legally obligate a country to follow the treaty. It does, however, indicate interest in ratifying the treaty in the future. It also commits the country to avoid doing anything that would directly violate the spirit of the treaty. For example, a country that signs the CRPD should not pass any further new laws that actively discriminate against people with disabilities.

More background information on the CRPD and the Optional Protocol, and the global movement to ratify and implement both, is available at www.RatifyNow.org.



This article is posted at both We Can Do and RatifyNow.org with permission of author.

We Can Do learned about these newest signatures and ratification at the United Nations “Enable” web site.



Also at We Can Do: catch up with the news; explore resources, toolkits, or funding and fellowship opportunities that might be helpful for your organization; find research, reports, papers, or statistics; or look up conferences, events, call for papers, or education/training opportunities.



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NEWS: Nepal signs disability rights treaty and protocol

Posted on 10 January 2008. Filed under: Cross-Disability, Human Rights, News | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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.

Both the full list of ratifications and the full list of signatories are available on the web.

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.

For more background on the CRPD, consult a FAQ written by the organization RatifyNow. More information about the CRPD is also available at the United Nations web site on 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.

This blog post is cross-posted both here and at RatifyNow with permission of the author.



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NEWS: 12 Countries Ratify International Disability Rights Treaty (CRPD)

Posted on 17 December 2007. Filed under: Human Rights, News | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The United Nations (UN) has announced that 12 countries have now ratified the international Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Six of these countries also have ratified the optional protocol.

This international disability rights treaty is meant to “promote, protect, and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights by persons with disabilities,” including self-determination, physical and programmatic access, personal mobility, health, education, employment, habilitation and rehabilitation, participation in political life, and equality and non-discrimination. (Source: RatifyNow.) The CRPD will become legally binding after 20 countries have ratified it. The optional protocol is a separate document that would allow individuals to seek redress (justice or compensation) for treaty violations internationally after they have exhausted everything that can be done at the national level. The optional protocol will be legally binding after 10 countries have ratified it.

The most recent four countries to ratify the convention (treaty) are: Bangladesh (November 30); Spain, for both the convention and the optional protocol (December 3); Namibia, for both the convention and the optional protocol (December 4); and Nicaragua (December 7). The other eight ratifying countries are Croatia, Cuba, Gabon, Hungary, India, Jamaica, Panama, and South Africa; of these, Croatia, Hungary, Panama, and South Africa also ratified the optional protocol.

A total of 118 countries have signed the convention, and 67 countries have signed the optional protocol. Signing the convention and optional protocol does not legally bind a country to obey them. However, signing these documents does commit the country to take no action that would conflict with the goals of the CRPD.

If you are sighted, you can view a global map that shows visually which countries have signed or ratified the CRPD or the optional protocol. I am not sure if this map is accessible to people with visual impairments. If not, then please consult the UN Enable web site accessibility statement, which encourages people to contact them regarding accessibility issues at their web site.

More information on the CRPD is available in the RatifyNow factsheet and the RatifyNow FAQ. More information on the optional protocol is also available at the RatifyNow website.



We Can Do learned about these ratifications in part through the AdHoc_IDC (International Disability Caucus) email list. This on-line, email-based news and discussion service can be joined for free. I also gathered additional background information from the RatifyNow and UN Enable web sites.



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NEWS: Disability Advocates Launch Treaty Ratification Campaign

Posted on 2 December 2007. Filed under: Cross-Disability, Human Rights, News | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

RatifyNow Logo: a pair of laurel leaves wraps around a map of the world. Overlaid on the map is the acronym CRPD (which stands for Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities). To the right of the map is the URL for the RatifyNow.org web site.
Advocates Celebrate International Disabled Persons Day
by Launching Treaty Ratification Campaign

Disability rights advocates are marking December 3, 2007 – International Disabled Persons Day – by launching RatifyNow, a global campaign based in the U.S. to maximize the number of nations that ratify the new Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. RatifyNow (www.RatifyNow.org) is a unique blend of grassroots activists, disability civil rights organizations, and human rights groups who work in tandem to make sure the Convention’s safeguards benefit people with disabilities worldwide.

The twenty-first century’s first human rights treaty was adopted by the United Nations a year ago and opened for ratification on March 30, 2007. To date, 118 nations have indicated support of the treaty and interest in ratification. Seven nations have ratified (Croatia, Cuba, Gabon, Hungary, India, Jamaica, and Panama). The treaty becomes legally binding 30 days after the 20th nation ratifies it.

“This treaty will dramatically improve the lives of people with disabilities – but only if we achieve broad worldwide participation,” said San Francisco disability rights attorney Michele Magar. “RatifyNow is asking enlightened people everywhere to join in persuading their governments to ratify this treaty.”

“Ninety percent of children with disabilities in developing countries receive no education. In far too many nations, people with disabilities lack basic rights, such as the right to own property, marry, work, and retain custody of their children,” said Magar. “Because disability discrimination also affects families of individuals with disabilities, the United Nations estimates that this treaty, if broadly implemented, will improve the lives of one quarter of the world’s population.”

“RatifyNow will provide information and support to the disability community, government officials, journalists, and advocates interested in learning more about the treaty, and why it’s so important for nations to ratify it,” said Washington, D.C. disability rights attorney Jeff Rosen. “RatifyNow’s website will serve as a clearinghouse for information about treaty ratification campaigns, and will provide ratification toolkits and strategies advocates can adapt for use in their own countries. We’ll also provide links to information and tools developed by other advocates, as well as relevant studies and reports written by university professors and investigative journalists.”

“President Bush’s failure to sign and promote the treaty has had a significant impact on people with disabilities.” said Rosen. “But we’re already working to make sure the next president signs the treaty within the first year of the new administration, and that the Senate ratifies it shortly thereafter.”

“We have had good success in starting to get local governments in the U.S. to adopt resolutions endorsing the Convention,” said Portland, Oregon disability rights advocate Pam VanderVeer. “We expect RatifyNow to be a resource disability advocates can use to push their government representatives to support treaty ratification.”

“We’re hoping to work closely with journalists, because the first step is letting the world know this treaty exists,” said Magar. “It’s a story that deserves broad dissemination, because this treaty guarantees people with disabilities access to education, and the rights to marry, enter into contracts, own property, work, vote, receive information in accessible formats, live in integrated communities instead of institutions, participate fully in cultural and civil life, and be free from discrimination on the basis of disability.”

RatifyNow welcomes both individuals and organizations as members, and it costs nothing to join. Organizational members include: the American Association of Persons with Disabilities, the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, Mental Disabilities Rights International, the National Council on Independent Living, the National Organization on Disability, People Who, Respectful Interfaces, TheUnderRepresented, and the United States International Council on Disability.

Although RatifyNow was begun in the United States, membership is open to individuals and organizations worldwide.

Contact: RatifyNow@gmail.com
Website: http://www.RatifyNow.org


This press release was disseminated by RatifyNow; the full text of this release is also available at http://press.ratifynow-admin.info.

Regular readers will note that this post marks the very first time that I have incorporated a graphic into this site–in this case, the logo for RatifyNow at the top. I did try to add a description for people who use screen readers but I’m not sure if I did it properly. If you use a screen reader (voice or Braille), please tell me if you “saw” the full description up above. The description SHOULD read as follows: “RatifyNow Logo: a pair of laurel leaves wraps around a map of the world. Overlaid on the map is the acronym CRPD (which stands for Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities). To the right of the map is the URL for the RatifyNow.org web site.”

Please use the comments area below to give me any feedback related to accessibility issues. Thanks for helping me make We Can Do more accessible.


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