31 August 2010
Press Release

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Background Release

United Nations Meeting to Review Disability Convention Progress, Discuss Impact


of Conflicts, Humanitarian Crises on Persons with Disabilities


States parties to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities will raise awareness of persons with disabilities in situation of risk and humanitarian emergencies when they meet this week in New York to undertake their periodical review of the implementation of the Convention.

States bound by the disability convention, along with observers and civil society organizations, will convene at the United Nations Headquarters from 1 to 3 September under the overall theme of “Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities through the Implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities”.

Participants are also expected to discuss ways to ensure that persons with disabilities are fully integrated in the life of their community and that their educational needs are adequately considered.

“Incidence of disability increases during conflicts and disasters.  Conversely, disability increases vulnerability to emergency situations,” said Akiko Ito, Chief of the Secretariat for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and United Nations Focal Point on Disability.  “Persons with disabilities tend to face added disadvantages and difficulties in having their needs met during the time of crisis when faced with a shortage of resources,” she added.

The panel discussion, organized in collaboration with the International Disability Alliance — a network of global and regional organizations of persons with disabilities — is taking up the issue against the backdrop of a growing number of armed conflicts and the occurrence of natural disasters such as the recent earthquake in Haiti, and the floods in Pakistan.

The debate will aim at jump-starting efforts to guarantee the protection and safety of persons with disabilities in crises situations as mandated by the Convention.  Participants will draw attention to the importance of including the needs of persons with disabilities when planning for major reconstruction in post-disaster countries.

The three-day meeting will also renew membership of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  As the number of States parties has grown past 80, the Committee, initially composed of 12 members, will be expanded to 18 in accordance with the provisions of the Convention.  These independent experts are tasked to review periodic reports from States parties, raise concerns, if necessary, and make recommendations.

A civil society forum to be held on 31 August will precede the conference.

States parties will be meeting for the third time since the Convention entered into force in May 2008.  The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the first comprehensive human rights treaty of the twenty-first century, has been signed by 146 States and ratified by 90.  Details of the Conference are available at:  www.un.org/disabilities.

For further information, please contact:  Fred Doulton, Secretariat of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, tel.:  +1 212 963 4466, e-mail:  doultonf@un.org; or Franck Kuwonu of the United Nations Department of Public Information, tel.:  +1 212 963 8264, e-mail:  kuwonu@un.org.

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For information media • not an official record