Development and human rights for all

Statement by Mr. György Könczei


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

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen, dear distinguished Delegates,


It is a great privilege to be part of today’s discussion at this commemorative event. I am from a country that was the fourth country that received the International Roosevelt Award; the second one in ratifying the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities following Jamaica. Hungary was the first country that ratified the Protocol. It is an important, but heavy duty: we work very hard for the implementation of the Convention.


The Convention is called a ground-braking treaty, because

*      It is the most extensively debated international convention ever, created with maximum involvement of the civil society.

*      It is based on the social model of disability.

*      It is a milestone in legislation at an international level because it extensively interprets the rights and the capacity to act of persons living with intellectual and psychosocial disabilities.

*      It marks a breakthrough for the world towards personal autonomy.

*      Its control mechanism is extremely strong compared to other international treaties on disability.


I would like to refer only to a single extremely important aspect that is the core of the implementation of the Convention worldwide. It is the question of capacity to act and supported decision making.

A world famous disability rights activist called people with disabilities the poorest of the poor some years ago. But there are even poorer of the poorest: people with severe and multiple disabilities, people with intellectual and psychosocial disabilities. Hundreds of thousands of these people do not have the capacity to act in most countries of the world. These people often do not have an identity card; they are officially excluded not only from the labor market, but from human rights as well! This problem belongs to Article 12, however, it is very closely connected to Article 27. We had very long debates on this question during the meetings of the Ad Hoc Committee.

The result has remained to be fully understood yet by many decision-makers. The result is as follows: the Convention defines a paradigm shift. It means that legal capacity means not only ‘capacity to rights’, but capacity to act as well. And capacity to act will nowhere and never work without the system of supported decision making services. It will never work without a support network.

We work very hard for it in Hungary in these days. We are carrying out legal and sociological research on supported decision making in Hungary and we are about to convince judges of courts about its meaning and its crucial importance. We, Hungarians, and many other nations of the world need further discussions and the worldwide support of the movement of persons with disabilities to make all of this reality.

Senior Secretary of State, signing the Convention on behalf of the Hungarian Republic, Mr. Gabor Csizmar, promised the authorities of the United Nations that we will provide the Hungarian Braille, the Hungarian sign language, and the Hungarian easy to read versions of the Convention’s text for the website of the UN. I have them with me and the files will be soon presented to DESA by our Mission. We have also completed the “Handbook for Parliamentarians” and will provide a link to the Hungarian translation.

Thank you for your attention.


Statement by Mr. György Könczei [WORD]