Development and human rights for all

Message from the UN Special Rapporteur on Disability, Hissa Al Thani

 Commemorative event: Entry into Force of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and Optional Protocol, New York, 12 May 2008 

 Message from the UN Special Rapporteur on Disability

Hissa Al Thani

on the

Entry into Force of the

Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities



This is certainly a great day in the life of the disability movement across the globe and the United Nations.


Personally, I feel extremely privileged to have been associated with this process from the time of my appointment as Special Rapporteur to the Standard Rules. I have been able, in the past six years, not only to be an observer of this extraordinary process, but to be a participant also.


It is a process that has taught more about the human spirit, about the strength and determination, about the ability to stand be counted, about not taking no for an answer when it comes to rights and justice and fairness.


And I believe that the process in itself is just as important as the end result. Never again will decisions be made about people without their involvement, participation and consent.


Never again will one party speak for all others without their input and their contribution.


The disability movement has taught the world this.


Today we mark a milestone in the history of human rights worldwide. For this Convention—although asked for, negotiated and drafted by persons with disabilities and their representative organizations—is also much more than a convention for the rights of persons with disabilities.


It is a Convention, if signed and ratified by the 192 Member States, that will ultimately lead us on the path to a better world. A world which is GOOD FOR ALL.


Today we have 128 countries that have signed the Convention. 71 that have also signed the Optional Protocol—and if I may add a personal note here—I would have to say that I truly wish the Protocol was not Optional, and that signing the Convention also means agreeing to and signing the Protocol.


25 countries have ratified the Convention, while 15 have ratified the Protocol.


But I know that all of you, as well as myself, no matter what role we play, will not rest until all Member States have signed and ratified both documents.


For my part, during the next 8 months, I will continue doing what I have been doing for the past six years—


Promoting the Convention,

Urging governments to sign it,

Urging them to ratify it,

Advocating that they involve disabled persons organizations in incorporating the articles into their national legislations;

Recommending that they develop national plans of actions, with activities, programmes, project, and clear time lines.


In other words—ensuring that signing and ratifying the Convention would lead to real implementation on the ground, and make a significant difference in the lives of persons with disabilities wherever they may live.


For we should not forget that the rights guaranteed at the international level, are only real rights when they are safeguarded at the community level.


Congratulations to the international disability movement and to persons with disabilities everywhere.


Hissa Al Thani

Message from the UN Special Rapporteur on Disability, Hissa Al Thani [WORD]