WITH 20 RATIFICATIONS, LANDMARK DISABILITY TREATY SET TO ENTER INTO FORCE ON 3 MAY

3 April 2008
HR/4941-L/T/4411

WITH 20 RATIFICATIONS, LANDMARK DISABILITY TREATY SET TO ENTER INTO FORCE ON 3 MAY

3 April 2008
Press Release
HR/4941 L/T/4411
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

WITH 20 RATIFICATIONS, LANDMARK DISABILITY TREATY SET TO ENTER INTO FORCE ON 3 MAY

Ecuador today became the twentieth country to ratify the landmark Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which is now set to enter into force on 3 May.  The Convention needed 20 ratifications to take effect.

The Convention, the first new human rights treaty of the twenty-first century, is designed to protect the rights of the world’s estimated 650 million people with disabilities.

With 126 countries having signed the Convention since 30 March 2007, and 71 having signed its Optional Protocol, which will enter into force at the same time, the treaty will allow individuals and groups to petition for relief.  The Convention takes effect 30 days after the twentieth ratification, and a Conference of the Parties must be convened within six months.

Progress towards moving the Convention into force has been relatively quick and has been attributed to the strong commitment of United Nations Member States, as well as advocacy by the global disability movement, which was instrumental in drafting the pact.  Jamaica was the first country to ratify the Convention, and this week, Jordan, Tunisia and Ecuador ratified it, providing a sufficient number of parties for the Convention to enter into force.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon congratulated the States that have already ratified the Convention so far.  “The Convention, together with its Optional Protocol, is deeply rooted in the firm commitment of the international community to rectifying the egregious neglect and dehumanizing practices that violate the human rights of persons with disabilities.”  He added: “This is a historic moment in the history of our quest for realization of the universal human rights for all persons.”

As many as two thirds of United Nations Member States have no legal protection for people with disabilities, according to the United Nations Focal Point on Disability, Akiko Ito, even though they comprise 1 in 10 of the global population.

The Convention seeks to “ensure that people with disabilities enjoy the universal human rights that everyone else does in their respective societies”.

Adopted by the General Assembly in December 2006, the Convention was one of the fastest treaties ever negotiated at the United Nations.  The pact provides that States which ratify it must enact laws and other measures to improve disability rights and also abolish legislation, customs and practices that discriminate against persons with disabilities.

The Convention does not see disability as an unchangeable medical condition, but as the result of interaction between people and removable hurdles. “Disability,” it says, “results from the interaction between persons with impairments and attitudinal and environmental barriers that hinders their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.”

The Convention has prompted action even before entering into force.  Jamaica has drafted a National Disability Act, while Panama and Trinidad and Tobago has incorporated the Convention into national legislation.  Activists around the world have called on their Governments to ratify and implement the treaty.

The United Nations will convene a special ceremony in the General Assembly Hall to mark the Convention’s entry into force, in New York on 12 May, with participants from Governments, United Nations agencies and civil society.

For more information, please contact Franck Kuwonu, Department of Public Information, tel.: +1 212 963 8264, e-mail: Kuwonu@un.org; or Sayre Nyce, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, tel.: +1 917 367 8090, e-mail nyce@un.org.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.