15 August 2006
Press Conference

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

PRESS CONFERENCE BY Chairman of Ad Hoc committee


on convention on disabled persons’ rights


At a press conference today, Ambassador Don MacKay of New Zealand announced that the final phase of negotiations for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities were under way, and it was likely the Convention text would be completed before negotiations concluded on 25 August.

As the first human rights treaty of the twenty-first century, the Convention would mark a major shift in the way the world’s 650 million people with disabilities were treated, he said.  It would serve to promote, protect and ensure the full enjoyment of all human rights by persons with disabilities and covered a number of key areas, including accessibility, personal mobility, health, education, employment and non-discrimination.

Mr. MacKay, the Chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee negotiating the Convention’s text, noted that, though there were still some issues left to resolve, he was pleased that the negotiating process had been “extremely interactive”, with colleagues of civil society and Governments working alongside one another.  He remarked that participating civilians were crucial to the negotiations as they brought the human element to light and were furthermore instrumental in helping choose the language to be used in the Convention.

Although the issue of equal human rights for all, disabled and non-disabled persons alike, might be a redundant one, he said that persons with disabilities lived in a reality which was quite different.  “As a group they have not enjoyed those rights”, he said.  “A code and a framework would ensure that this happens.”  Though the Convention did not create any new rights or entitlements, it expressed the existing rights in a manner that addressed the needs and situation of persons with disabilities.

Maria Veronica Reina, President of the Centre for International Rehabilitation in Argentina, said, “We want to participate in society.”  She described a world in which persons with disabilities were sometimes not allowed to marry and often did not have equal access to education.

Persons with disabilities remain among the most marginalized of all populations and are barred by a wide range of physical, legal and social barriers.  The Convention could lead the way to legislation that reshapes the public’s thinking about persons with disabilities, in everything from building and civic design to transportation, education, employment and recreation.

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For information media • not an official record