On May 3, 2008, the United Nations introduced and enforced the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol. The Convention was originally adopted on 13 December 2006 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. The chief aim of this UN Convention is to ensure that people with disabilities across the world enjoy the same rights as people without any physical or mental disabilities.
The UN Convention is serviced by a joint Secretariat which is comprised of staff members from the United Nations as well as the Department of Social Affairs (DESA). The Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights is also involved in the Convention.
Signatories Of The UN Convention
At present, The UN Convention On Rights Of Persons With Disabilities boasts of 143 signatories. The Optional Protocol has 87 signatories.
The Convention has received 75 ratifications and the Optional Protocol has received 48 ratifications. As per the UN Enable website, Bolivia is the the country to have most recently ratified the Convention.
This particular UN Convention is the first of its kind and is a major step for the disabled community which has previously been sidelined and often even been discriminated against.
As per the UN Enable website, “It is the first comprehensive human rights treaty of the 21st century and is the first human rights convention to be open for signature by regional integration organizations.”
The Convention was openly welcomed by the disabled community because it marked a shift in the world’ attitude towards disabilities. Most people with disabilities simply want nothing more than to be treated with equal rights. The UN Convention On Rights Of Persons With Disabilities did exactly that. It helped the world realize that people with disabilities are not merely objects of charity deserving pity but are in fact people with certain handicaps, but people who need and deserve the same rights as everyone else.
Convention Recommendations For World Leaders
The Convention states that persons with disabilities should be guaranteed the right to inclusive education at all levels, regardless of age, without discrimination and on the basis of equal opportunity.
State Parties should ensure that:
- children with disabilities are not excluded from free and compulsory primary education, or from secondary education;
- adults with disabilities have access to general tertiary education, vocational training, adult education and lifelong learning;
- persons with disabilities receive the necessary support, within the general education system, to facilitate their effective education; and
- effective individualized support measures are put in place to maximize academic and social development.
State Parties should take appropriate measures, such as:
- endorsing the learning of Braille, alternative script, augmentative and alternative modes, means and formats of communication and orientation and mobility skills, and facilitating peer support and mentoring;
- supporting the learning of sign language and promoting the linguistic identity of the deaf community;
- advocating that education of persons, particularly children, who are blind and/or deaf, is delivered in the most appropriate languages and means of communication for the individual; and
- employing teachers, including teachers with disabilities, who are qualified in sign language and/or Braille, and to train education professionals and staff about disability awareness, use of augmentative and alternative modes and formats of communication, and educational techniques and materials to support persons with disabilities.
The Convention establishes human rights for persons with disabilities by affirming that persons with all range of disabilities are entitled to the fundamental freedoms every world citizen enjoys.
The Convention stressed the importance of mainstreaming disability issues and urged governments to pay more attention to the rights of disabled people. It encourages world leaders to thoughtfully and intelligently strategize to make the world a more friendly place for persons with disabilities.
By recognizing the rights of disabled people and the need to promote their human rights across the world, the United Nations introduced a revolutionary change the disabled community has long demanded.
The Convention will go down in history as the fastest negotiated human rights treaty. It is a much needed change for the disabled community so the world and even government view persons with disabilities as equal citizens and grant them equal rights.