UN human rights chief offers support for adoption of disability treaty

Louise Arbour

23 August 2006 – United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour today expressed support for an international convention to protect the rights of persons with disabilities, adding that its adoption – the latest round of negotiations on an agreed text conclude this week – would offer such persons the genuine protection that they have lacked until now.

“The existing human rights standards and mechanisms have not been sufficiently effective,” said Ms. Arbour. “As a result, about 10 per cent of the world’s population is exposed to the most extreme forms of denial and violation of the full range of human rights.”

If adopted, the convention would be the first new human rights treaty of the 21st century, marking a major shift in the way the world’s 650 million people with disabilities are treated. The General Assembly’s Ad Hoc Committee is scheduled to wrap up its latest round of negotiations on the proposed treaty on Friday.

Ms. Arbour added that the new convention would help improve human rights protection at the national level. She said that the treaty-monitoring mechanism should work closely with inter-governmental mechanisms and UN agencies, programmes and funds to ensure that all persons with disabilities enjoy their full human rights.

“I look forward to collaborating with States and civil society to support the new human rights monitoring mechanism, enabling it to provide useful advice to States and to help raise awareness, including of the need to address the stereotypes and prejudices that deny persons with disabilities enjoyment of their human rights,” Ms. Arbour said.

The convention would obligate countries, among other measures, to gradually include disability-friendly features into the construction of new facilities, promote and improve access to education and information and introduce measures that eliminate discriminatory practices against persons with disabilities.

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