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History created - Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities adopted: Disability News and Information Service

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History created - Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities adopted

D.N.I.S. News Network - The United Nations (U.N.) Convention was adopted on August 25. It is the eighth international human rights Treaty in history, which will prohibit discrimination against 650 million disabled people across the world. Five years of intensive negotiations at U.N. forced countries to agree on the new Convention. The treaty is the first human rights text adopted in the past 16 years.

The new Convention is based on existing human rights Treaties and their application to people with disabilities. While the 40-article Treaty does not create new rights, it prohibits discrimination against disabled people in all areas of life. Its aim is to guarantee an effective protection of disabled people and ensure that they can enjoy the full range of human rights: civil, political, economic, social and cultural.

“This is the first convention of this magnitude for this century,” U.N. General Assembly President Jan Eliasson was quoted as saying after the agreement was reached. He told the negotiators that they were “sending an absolutely wonderful message to the world. You are sending the message that we want to have a life with dignity for all and that all human beings are equal.”

“This marks a great day for the U.N. and for persons with disabilities,” said New Zealand’s Ambassador Don MacKay, who chaired the negotiations through its final sessions. “It’s a good Convention and it will make a difference for millions of people.”

Venus Ilagan, Chairperson of Disabled Peoples’ International (D.P.I.) said, “Today, 25 August 2006, is a day to celebrate!  We have achieved something that has long been the dream of our membership: A U.N. Convention on our human rights! Twenty-five years ago at D.P.I.’s first World Congress, in Singapore, we recognised the need to unite and to fight for our human rights as disabled people. Today, with this victory we are united as never before!  With the adoption of the Draft Convention by the Ad Hoc Committee, we can celebrate a major victory on the long road to equality and we should be very proud of this achievement.

At the beginning of the current negotiation process, D.P.I. made clear our view that there were no human rights to which disabled people do not lay claim. The draft instrument accepted here today recognises and entrenches our rights in the U.N. Human Rights framework.” 

The Convention was largely approved by consensus. The Convention will be formally sent to the General Assembly for adoption at its 61st session that begins in September 2006. It will then be open for signing and ratification by Member States.