HIGH COMMISIONER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS WELCOMES 100TH RATIFICATION OF TREATY DESIGNED TO CURE DISCRIMINATION AGAINST PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES
13 May 2011
GENEVA – Colombia this week joined the ranks of 99 other states which have pledged to take concrete steps to ensure equal rights and opportunities for people with disabilities by adopting the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
“These states have recognized and affirmed that a person with a disability is not the problem that needs treatment – they are ready to treat the discrimination in society that is the real problem,” the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said. “A person in a wheelchair is not prevented from accessing the voting booth by her wheelchair but by the stairs leading up to the booth. It is the stairs that are discriminatory and problematic. I congratulate 100 states for acknowledging this truth.”
One person in 10 has a disability, and yet, the needs of this large segment of the population are little addressed. Mortality for children with disabilities may be as high as 80 per cent in countries where under-five mortality as a whole has decreased below 20 per cent. People with disabilities are less likely to be educated and more likely to be unemployed. Only 45 countries have anti-discrimination and other laws to tackle the issues faced by individuals with a disability.
People with disabilities are frequently disenfranchised by being barred from voting due to accessibility problems. Even more grave violations of their rights occur in many parts of the world, such as being forced to take medication against their will, being shut out of schools because of autism, or being locked up at home because of the shame and stigma attached to them by their communities.
In order to counter the exclusion and social invisibility of persons with disabilities, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was adopted in 2006 and came into force in May 2008 as the first international human rights treaty of the 21st century. The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is monitored by a committee of experts, many of whom are themselves persons with disabilities.
“The adoption of this treaty brought great hope to many individuals with disabilities,” Ms. Pillay said: “It is great news that 100 States have now taken these standards on board in their legal systems and committed to making life better for people with disabilities. This is an important step in the direction of universal acceptance of these standards, which promise so much for persons with disabilities.”
Ms. Pillay called on all remaining states to move quickly to ratify the treaty, and urged Member States to fulfill their obligations to promote, protect and ensure all human rights of persons with disabilities.
“At a minimum, they must enjoy the respect and dignity due to any member of the community – nothing less,” she said. “States and all actors in society must also take steps to ensure that people with disabilities have an education and employment, can access the medicines of their choice, move freely and live independently, and have the support needed to make legal decisions such as buying property. Change might not happen overnight. But the first steps must be taken today.”
Members of the Committee from each region are available to be interviewed about their individual stories and how they believe the Convention can improve their lives:
- Mr. Ron Mccallum, (Australia) Chair, interviews in English
- Ms. Jia Yang (China) Vice-Chair, interviews in English and Chinese
- Ms. Edah Maina (Kenya) Vice-Chair, interviews in English
- Ms. María Soledad Cisternas Reyes (Chile) Vice-Chair, interviews in Spanish
- Ms. Theresia Degener (Germany) Rapporteur, interviews in English
For information on how to contact the experts, please get in touch with the Media Unit at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights:
Ravina Shamdasani, Information Officer: + 41 22 917 9310 /email@example.com
Xabier Celaya, Information Officer: + 41 22 917 9383 / firstname.lastname@example.org
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