This proposal from the Government of India begins by recognizing the indivisibility of civil and political rights, along with economic, social and cultural rights. It is also a leap of faith and belief that an United Nations International Convention can and does make a difference in the everyday lives of the persons whom it seeks to promote and protect.
In general, this proposal draws upon those civil, political, economical, social and cultural rights that are actually recognized by the international community and have been subscribed to by most nations and integrated into their respective national legislations. In this sense, the proposal aims at eliminating the specific barriers that persons with disabilities face in the full acknowledgement and exercise of all their human rights, as well as promoting a broad commitment to accessibility, autonomy and equality of opportunities in the different spheres that comprise ordinary life in all societies.
It is precisely this acknowledgement of the rights of persons with disabilities which will allow each State Party to guarantee, on the basis of its sovereign capacity, effective access to persons with disabilities to ordinary physical environments and to social opportunities in pursuance of their preference for autonomy and independence, and encouragement for their participation as well as that of their families within the contexts of the communities in which they choose to live.
There are currently two important United Nations instruments that address the issue of disability - the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities and the World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons. While the Standard Rules are a catalogue of aspirational obligations, that have been very valuable in the construction of international standards regarding disability and undoubtedly constitute a landmark in the United Nations System, it is not legally binding on each State Party. If there were an international legally binding convention, it could focus on establishing the principles and rights in favour of persons with disabilities, while the Standard Rules and the World Programme of Action could maintain their programmatic character more centred in the specific aspects of public policies.
The challenges faced by persons with disabilities are mainly of a social and structural nature; solutions, therefore, must need be a combination of individual will, family efforts, voluntary action, and States' commitments. That is why the promotion and protection of the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities demand institutional action from States for not only is it necessary to establish guarantees against social exclusion and discriminatory practices that come from social stigmatization against disabilities, but it is also necessary to guarantee real access to social opportunities through systematic and progressive reform of the physical and institutional contexts in which disabled persons live. States must commit themselves to core minimum obligations, within reasonable accommodation, under the principles of progressive realization of rights, to cross disability and trans disciplinary approaches, at standards not below the prevalent ones in the country, and with the mechanism for periodic review and monitoring that is internal to each country.
Considering that the United Nations has proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in the other Covenants on Human Rights that all persons are entitled to all rights and freedoms set forth therein without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, gender, language, religion, or political or other opinion national or social origin, property, birth, or other status;
Recalling that the Charter of the United Nations recognizes values of all persons on the principles of dignity and equality and resolves to promote the developmental process and better quality of life of all peoples within a broader concept of freedom;
Recognizing also that discrimination against any person on the basis of disability is a violation of the said principles of equality of rights and respect for human dignity and that such discrimination prevents the participation of persons with disabilities in civil, social, economic, political and cultural life;
Taking into consideration the international and regional instruments, declarations, norms, and programs adopted to promote human rights and non-discrimination against persons with disabilities, such as -
Notes with appreciation, the work of the UN Special Rapporteur on Disability and the work of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Recognizing that since the adoption of the World Program of Action (1983-1992), despite the numerous efforts made by governments and relevant organizations within the United Nations system, as well as the efforts of non-governmental organizations aimed at increasing cooperation on integration of and raising awareness on disability, much has still to be done to remove discrimination against persons with disabilities in different parts of the world;
Recognizing that in order to achieve equality of opportunities for persons with disabilities, the exercise of all political, civil, economic, social and cultural rights established in the International Covenants and other instruments of Human Rights, must be guaranteed, as well as their accessibility to physical and social environments;
Emphasizing the responsibility of States to eliminate barriers towards seamless integration and participation in all spheres of social, economic, cultural, and political life - under conditions of equality - and that persons with disabilities are vulnerable to multiple or aggravated discriminations;
Concerned over the fact of the existence of social circumstances that contribute to increasing incidence of disability, which include extreme poverty, lack of adequate healthcare, violence inside and outside the home, accidents, alcohol and drug abuse, exclusion from education and workplaces, systematic violation of human rights, lack of proper sanitation and care during the ageing process as well as during the child-bearing process, neglect, abuse and exploitation.
Committed to take the necessary steps against conditions that cause, facilitate, exacerbate or accentuate certain disabilities;
Acknowledging the important role played by non-governmental organizations and organizations of persons with disabilities and of their parents associations, in the promotion and protection of human rights of persons with disabilities and concerned that greater awareness of and sensitivity to disability issues has to be advocated to significantly improve the quality of life of persons with disabilities;
Conscious of the global movement in favor of proactive policies for persons with disabilities and the efforts undertaken by Governments and NGOs in raising the profile of persons with disabilities;
Motivated by the principles of dignity, equality and nondiscrimination, that are the rights of all human beings, and by the values of autonomy, equal opportunities and solidarity with persons with disabilities;
Have agreed to the following:
Article 1: Objects
The object of this Convention is:-
(a) To recognize, secure, protect, guarantee, and promote the rights of persons with disabilities.
(b) To remove physical, attitudinal, psychological and informational barriers that prevent their participation in all aspects of community life.
(c) To design assistive devices, services, environments and societies where user-interfaces are flexible enough to allow the widest use of abilities, needs and preferences respecting diversity and differences.
(d) To eliminate inequality in status, facilities and opportunities for persons with disabilities
(e) To eliminate all forms of discrimination against persons with disabilities in public and private spheres;
(f) To encourage the autonomy of persons with disabilities and promote their full participation in economic, social, cultural, civil and political life, under conditions of equality;
(g) To promote new forms of international and regional cooperation to support national efforts for the benefit of persons with disabilities and their families.
(h) To respect inter-country and intra-country resource-variations which will allow for progressive realization of rights with reasonable accommodation for persons with disabilities.
Article 2: Definition
"accessibility" means the measure or condition of things and services that can readily be reached or used by people including those with disabilities, which could be achieved, through inclusive and universal design or adaptation and by legal and programmatic means, in order to promote:
"associate" includes a family member, helper, carer, or relative or advocate for a person with disability.
"communication" includes oral-aural communication, communication using sign language, finger Braille, Braille and/or augmentative or alternative modes of communication, including accessible information and communication technology.
"Disability" is/comprises a dynamic interaction between the medical or health condition of a person and the social, economic and physical environment, and involves the limitation of the person's opportunities to participate in one or more life activities, which results from [or is aggravated by] the interaction between the environment and the person's physical, sensory, intellectual, psychological, developmental, learning, neurological or other impairment (including the presence in the body of an organism or agent causing malfunction or disease.
"discrimination on the ground of disability" includes:
(1) any distinction, exclusion, restriction on the ground of disability which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil [linguistic] or any other field;
(2) any act, criterion, provision, practice, policy, rule or arrangement which, although not explicitly based on disability -
(3) failure to make reasonable accommodation, or a failure to eliminate environmental and attitudinal barriers, or the establishment of the new barriers which impair access to desired services and full participation in the activities of civil, cultural, economic, political and social life;
(4) failure to provide goods, services and facilities to persons with disabilities [in the most integrated setting] in the manner most appropriate to the needs of the person;
(5) less favourable treatment of an associate of a person with a disability because of that other person's disability or because of the association also amounts to discrimination.
Discrimination on the ground of disability includes discrimination on the ground of multiple disabilities, discrimination on the ground of type or severity of disability, and discrimination on the basis of disability in conjunction with one or more other characteristics, such as race, ethnicity, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth, caste, sexuality, disability or other status.
And a reference to disability includes a suspected, imputed, assumed or possible future disability, perceived disability, a past disability or the effects of a past disability, or the characteristics of a disability.
"equality of opportunity" means the condition in which society treats each individual with a disability as a person equal in dignity and rights and removes any restrictions or limitations by appropriate means, adjustments and allocations, and by affirmative action, reasonable accommodation or "special measures" and provides enabling environments to ensure de facto equality between persons with and without disability.
"language" includes oral-aural language and sign language.
"reasonable accommodation" means introduction of necessary and appropriate measures to enable a person with a disability to fully enjoy fundamental rights and freedoms [and to enjoy access to goods, services and facilities]
"universal design" means measures taken to ensure that a person with a disability has an equal opportunity with other persons to enjoy human rights and fundamental freedoms and to participate fully in the life of the community. For example the provision of financial support or of assistive devices or technical aid, do not constitute discrimination but are measures that are necessary to ensure equality of opportunity.
Adoption by State Parties of temporary special measures aimed at accelerating the achievement of de facto equality for persons with disabilities shall not be considered discrimination as defined in this Convention, but shall in no way entail as a consequence the maintenance of unequal or separate standards; these measures shall be discontinued when the objectives of equality or opportunity and treatment have been achieved.
Article 3: Legislative Measures
State Parties shall agree to adopt legislative, political, judicial, administrative, and any other kind of measures aimed at achieving the objectives of this Convention. This Convention shall ensure the right to life, developmental rights, participation rights, protection rights, and rights against discrimination, exploitation and abuse. The principle of indivisibility of rights with reference to persons with disabilities shall be respected. To this end, they shall:
1. Specifically incorporate in their national legislations, the principles and perspectives of equality, human rights issues and non-discrimination against people with disabilities and abolish or amend any legislation that permits the contrary.
2. Establish measures to prevent the sanction of any practice which constitutes discrimination against persons with disabilities.
Article 4: Affirmative Action
In order to ensure equality of rights and opportunities for persons with disabilities, State Parties shall promote, among others, appropriate affirmative measures.
(a) Establish in their national legislations, the necessary affirmative measures, policies and programmes to encourage the autonomy of persons with disabilities for full participation, under conditions of equality, in all spheres of civil society addressing life-span issues from birth to death.
(b) State Parties shall undertake additional measures to protect those persons with disabilities who face situations of vulnerability and multiple discriminations such as women with disabilities, persons with severe disabilities, young children with disabilities, senior citizens with disabilities and disabled persons living in conditions of poverty, destitution and abandonment.
(c) State Parties shall undertake specific measures to ensure that persons with disabilities are protected from abuse, exploitation and neglect and from moral and material abandonment.
(d) State Parties shall ensure the rights to life and survival for persons with disabilities and to their development, and to participation to the fullest extent possible in conditions of freedom, dignity and equality.
Article 5: Awareness of Civil Societies
State Parties shall promote the changing of stereotypes, socio-cultural and traditional malpractices, or any other act, which constitutes an obstacle for persons with disabilities or their families in the exercise of their rights. To this end, State Parties shall:
(a) Adopt measures to raise the public awareness about the rights, needs and concerns of persons with disabilities, at all forms of information campaigns using multiple channels of communication, which include traditional folk media as well as print and electronic media.
(b) Educate, sensitize and encourage the mass media to project a positive and non-stereotypical image of persons with disabilities and their families.
(c) Encourage and ensure the participation of disabled people's organizations, parents organizations and developmental organizations in the execution of these measures.
(d) Promote information dissemination campaigns to raise the awareness of society and encourage, sensitization and training courses for public officials in all sectors regarding the rights contained in this Convention.
Article 6: Accessibility
State Parties shall recognize the right of persons with disabilities to freedom of movement, accessible environments, communication and information in accessible formats, which will promote their autonomy, independence, and full participation in all activities.
States Parties shall legislate or take steps to ensure that:
(a) Public services and facilities for public use have both outdoor and indoor adaptations necessary to facilitate access, use, and easy movement for persons with different forms of disabilities.
(b) Public transport services including public vehicles allow the access and mobility of persons with all types of disabilities.
(c) The construction and adaptation of buildings comply with regulations governing codes of accessibility for all persons with disabilities.
(d) Ensure that public information services are accessible to all, using appropriate technologies.
(e) Encourage the mass media to make their services accessible to persons with all types of disabilities.
(f) Promote, through large awareness campaigns, information to persons with disabilities and their families about their rights, the means of demanding as well of enforcing the same.
(g) Provide legal counseling and interpretation or translation services to all persons with disabilities to ensure that opportunities for securing justice are not denied by reason of their disabilities.
(h) Guarantee exercise of the right to universal suffrage of all persons with disabilities and, for that purpose, include in election mechanisms, the use of postal ballot, instruments and specialized technologies for each type of disability.
(i) Promote the participation, under conditions of equality, of persons with disabilities in positions of popular election, political parties, social organizations, and in public administration from village to national levels.
Article 7: Right of Access to Information
(a) The freedom of expression of persons with disabilities includes the right to communicate in a language or form of communication which they consider appropriate (including Sign Language, Braille or other communication modes), to have that mode of communication officially recognized, and to receive information and services in alternative communication modes from government, public authorities and other institutions or persons providing essential services.
(b) State Parties shall provide all necessary support to enable the full realization of this right.
Article 8: Right to Participation
(a) Guarantee the rights of persons with disabilities to freedom of association and to form their own organizations. In case of severely, intellectually and multiple disabled persons, their related family members may represent them in self help advocacy groups.
(b) Promote the participation of persons with disabilities and related parents associations, in the development of all government policies, programmes and plans relating to disability.
(c) Promote the participation of persons with disabilities in any field of their choice, including sports, culture and recreation.
Article 9: Right to Health
State Parties shall promote access for persons with disabilities to the appropriate medical, and rehabilitation services so as to guarantee their right to health and to independence. To this end, States Parties shall:
(a) Ensure that all medical and nursing staff, as well as other healthcare professionals, are properly qualified and have access to the appropriate technologies and methods for the early detection, rehabilitation, and treatment of persons with disabilities as well as information and skills in prevention of causes of disability.
(b) Ensure that persons with disabilities and their families have full information about treatment options, and that they are able to make their informed choices.
(c) Ensure that persons with disabilities or their families give their consent prior to being subjected to any kind of research or medical or scientific experiment.
(d) Ensure that appropriate procedures are introduced in respect of their consent to genetic research and biomedical and biotechnological advances that these are intended only for their improvement.
(e) Ensure that public as well as private healthcare institutions, particularly the facilities for persons with psychosocial and intellectual disabilities, strictly follow a code of ethics which promotes care, openess, and quality where the living and service conditions ensure respect for human rights, for dignity and for the autonomy of persons with disabilities.
Article 10: Right to Education & Cultural Life
(a) State Parties shall recognize that persons with disabilities have the right to receive an education that furthers their overall development, autonomy, and participation, under conditions of equality, in public and private spheres.
(b) State Parties shall include the specific educational needs of persons with disabilities in national education policies, plans, and programs and shall endeavour to provide the resources needed to allow their inclusion in the formal education system.
(c) State Parties shall guarantee other methods of appropriate teaching, with curricula common to that of formal education, solely for persons with disabilities who choose to enter alternative educational systems such as inclusive, integrated, special, and open education systems, distance education, as well as interactive learning systems at school, college and university levels of learning in an accessible environment taking into account specific needs of different disability groups.
(d) State Parties shall ensure the provision and ongoing training of mainstream and specialized human resources at pre-service, in-service, and continuing service levels that will support the empowerment process of persons with disabilities in formal and other education methods, and promote the training and hiring of teachers, instructors, and specialists with disabilities
(e) State Parties shall ensure that students with disabilities receive the appropriate equipment, technical assistance, teaching / learning materials, scholarships, transport assistance and all other enabling technologies which will enable them to access and participate in curricular and extracurricular activities.
(f) State Parties shall provide for recreational, cultural, and sports activities through adaptations which facilitate their use.
(g) State Parties shall set in place, a system of scholarships or special incentives for cultural, artistic, and sports activities.
(h) State Parties shall ensure that students with disabilities have access to appropriate educational devices which will promote their fullest development.
(i) State Parties shall recognize the right of all persons with disabilities to take part in leisure activities, including sporting activities, and shall take all necessary measures to ensure that persons with disabilities:
Article 11 - Right To Rehabilitation Services
(a) State Parties shall provide financial and other support for the establishment, maintenance and expansion of a continuum of rehabilitation services in prevention of secondary disabilities, early detection, early intervention, preschool training, physiotherapy, speech, occupational therapy, vocational and job training, including indigenous methods of rehabilitation therapies, and to undertake all efforts that will ensure the realization of the full potential of persons with disabilities.
(b) State Parties shall make provision to update/upgrade Vocational Training Centres to include employment oriented courses in keeping with current requirements, for example; Information and Communication technology.
(c) State Parties shall make possible indigenous and state-of-art assistive devices like wheelchairs, Assistive Software (for example, speech reading software for visually impaired persons).
(d) State Parties shall ensure that these rehabilitation services are accessible, affordable, and available through developmental organizations that are community based as well as through institution based service delivery systems.
(e) State Parties shall ensure the establishment of Respite and Residential Care facilities for persons with disabilities whose conditions are more challenging because of multiplicity of difficulties, poverty, destitution and neglect provided that the decision lies with the persons with disabilities and/or their families.
(f) State Parties shall encourage multi-sectoral linkages and convergence between Government, non- government organizations, corporate sector, persons with disabilities and their families, donor agencies and civil society.
(g) State Parties shall ensure that the disability dimension is incorporated in all country-specific initiatives and policies, which are aimed at the developmental needs of the general population.
Article 12: Right to Work
State Parties shall recognize the right of persons with disabilities to work and to have the freedom to choose their professions and jobs, and will adopt all measures necessary for their participation, under conditions of equality, in the labor market. For this purpose, State Parties shall:
(a) Ensure that individual and collective labour agreements and regulations protect persons with disabilities with regard to employment, continuance in employment in case of disablement, career advancement, working conditions, grievance redressal and ensure the exercise of their labour rights.
(b) Prohibit and abolish any discriminatory regulations and practices which restrict or deny persons with disabilities access to, continuance in and promotion within, the labor market.
(c) Promote the adoption of positive measures that allow persons with disabilities access to and continuance in employment both in the public and private sector.
(d) Promote the specific inclusion of persons with disabilities in mainstream vocational training programmes
(e) Ensure the inclusion of disabled persons in Government programmes aimed at the eradication and alleviation of poverty.
(f) Guarantee the rights of persons with disabilities to an equal compensation for equal work in case of gainful occupation.
(g) Promote workplace training, instruction, and in-service training for persons with disabilities.
(h) Promote the adaptation and flexibility of workplaces, work instruments, enabling technologies and working hours to make them more accessible for persons with disabilities.
(i) Grant incentives for companies and establishments that employ persons with disabilities and facilitate their freedom to attend medical appointments and undergo therapy, wherever necessary.
(j) Encourage banks and other financial institutions to support the self-employment of persons with disabilities with special support benefits for the self-employment of women with disabilities, and self-employment of parents/guardians of persons with intellectual, severe and multiple disabilities.
Article 13: Right To Social Security
State Parties shall pledge to eliminate all norms and practices which restrict access for persons with disabilities to the benefits of social security and to this end, they shall adopt the following measures:
(a) Develop social security programs and measures that cater to the specific needs of persons with disabilities with special provisions for women/girls with disability, who are orphaned, abandoned and destitute, as well as other persons who face multiple disadvantages.
(b) Promote the establishment, under governmental housing programs, of specific percentages of housing to be earmarked for persons with disabilities and their families.
(c) Ensure that people who assist or look after persons with disabilities, including their relatives, have adequate training support and financial assistance, particularly in the case of persons from low income families and those with intellectual and severe forms of disability.
(d) Ensure that persons with disabilities have entitlements and access to legal guardianship for the protection of their person as well as of their property, if they or their family members so desire.
(e) Ensure that necessary schemes are evolved and implemented towards insurance of life, health, assistive devices and property of persons with disabilities
(f) Promote the elimination of import duties on technical equipment and such material as may be required by persons with all forms of disabilities.
(g) Ensure that persons with disabilities have tax exemptions and benefits in respect of their incomes under the National Laws.
Article 14: Right to Implementation of Measures
State Parties shall agree to consult and collaborate with each other, for putting into practice the content of this Convention, as well as to work together in a spirit of cooperation to achieve its objectives. To this end, they commit to:
(a) To conduct periodical surveys of persons with disabilities
(b) Design programs which facilitate the implementation of the Convention, based on the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities and other instruments, which promote their human rights and dignity.
(c) Exchange the latest advances and information in scientific research and the development of technology pertaining to seamless integration of persons with disabilities and the elimination of obstacles that restrain their autonomy, independent living and full enjoyment of rights, as well as the development of national capacities.
(d) Promote courses, seminars, and workshops for training, research and sharing of best practices.
(e) Incorporate the rights of persons with disabilities into the mandates of the bodies and relevant organizations of the United Nations, as well as in the elaboration of programs to take care of the needs of disabled persons.
Article 15 : Budgetary Allocation
State shall ensure the necessary demarcation of budgetary provision be made available for the implementation of measures envisaged in this convention
Article 16: Monitoring Mechanism
For the purpose of examining the progress made by the States in achieving the realization of the obligations undertaken in the present convention and especially to end all the discriminations against persons with disabilities and to guarantee full respect of their human rights, there shall be established a Committee on the Rights of persons with disabilities within each State, which shall carry out the functions, without infringing the sovereign rights of State Parties, as follows:-
Article 17: Obligations of Developed Countries
State Parties shall recognize inter-state differences in terms of financial and technical resources in the implementation of this Convention and respect the principle of reasonable accommodation within the States' capacities while ensuring that standards and quality in programmes for disabled persons are not below the norms for the general population prevailing in each State.
(a) Since persons with disabilities are over-represented in the population which live at, or below the poverty line, and since 80% of 600 million with disability worldwide, live in developing countries, and since many of the developing countries have non-existent or incomplete states of social security nets, it shall be the responsibility of developed countries to support, guide and in every way assist the developing countries to set in place comprehensive social security systems which, inter alia, cover health, nutrition, shelter, medical, personal and economic security.
(b) Developed countries to take concrete measures for the devolution of financial resources to developing countries and to the least developed countries, for the implementation of this Convention.
(c) Developed countries to take similar cognizance of non-availability of technical resources and establish measures for sharing of technical resources.
Article 18: General obligations of the State Parties
The State Parties shall condemn inequality and discrimination on the basis of disability in all its forms and agree to pursue by all appropriate means and without delay a policy of eliminating discrimination on the grounds of disability and promoting equality of persons with disabilities, to this end, undertake:
(a) To respect, to ensure and to fulfill the rights recognized in the Convention for all individuals within its territory and subject to its jurisdiction, without discrimination of any kind on grounds such as race, colour, gender, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth, caste, sex, disability or other means;
(b) To embody the principles of equality and non-discrimination on the grounds of disability in their National Constitutions or other appropriate legislations if not still incorporated therein, to ensure, through law and other appropriate means the practical application of these principles, and to amend or repeal any legislation that is inconsistent with those principles,
(c) To adopt appropriate legislative and other measures including sanctions where appropriate, prohibiting all discriminations on the ground of disability.