UN rights office hails ratification of disability convention by 150 States as ‘major milestone’

Men and women at the entrance of a school in Romania that teaches people with disabilities. Photo: World Bank/Flore de Préneuf

15 September 2014 – Guyana became the latest country to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which is widely regarded as the first international human rights treaty of the twenty-first century and one of the fastest to be ratified.

“The 150th ratification is evidence of the commitment by the international community to promote and protect the human rights of persons with disabilities,” said Maria Soledad Cisternas Reyes on behalf of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), which monitors how States implement the Convention.

In a statement, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said “disability rights worldwide have reached a major milestone” with the ratification.

About 15 per cent of the world’s population lives with some form of disability, and those persons face physical, social, economic and attitudinal barriers that prevent them from effectively participating in society, according to UN figures.

Persons with disabilities are also disproportionately represented among the world’s poorest, and lack equal access to basic resources such as education, employment, healthcare and legal support systems.

“This Convention, in force for just six years, has been ratified across all regions and cultures, and is on the way to becoming universally recognized. We call on those states still to ratify to do so,” said Ms. Cisternas, who chairs the CRPD.

The Convention was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2006 in an effort to ensure that persons with disabilities enjoy the same human rights as everyone else.the treaty sets out the obligations of States Parties to promote, protect and ensure the rights of all people with disabilities and promotes equal rights in all areas of life.

“A key message from persons with disabilities is that there should be ‘nothing about us without us,’” Ms. Cisternas said. “We in the Committee aim to foster this view in our dealings with States Parties, civil society, national human rights institutions and regional monitoring bodies, as well as with other UN agencies.”


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