Commemorative event: Entry into Force of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and Optional Protocol, New York, 12 May 2008
Let me first congratulate all parties involved with the entry into force of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with disabilities, CRPD. Congratulations to the United Nations and to civil society, especially persons with disabilities. This Convention introduces an enormous paradigm shift. It is a legal way to include all persons with disabilities into society, as full and responsible members of this society.
I am speaking on behalf of the International Disability Alliance, IDA. IDA is a network of international and regional organisations of persons with disabilities. IDA has played a very active role in the formation and the work of the International Disability Caucus, IDC, that was so successful during the process of negotiations around the Convention. IDA is still very active.
Helen Keller, who was deafblind, once wrote: “Worse than not seeing and not hearing is not to be seen and not to be heard”.
This Convention is making a change:
We will be seen as persons, equal before the law like anybody else, persons with dignity and many qualities.
We will be heard as experts on how to make all areas of society, the environment and information accessible to us. We will be heard as persons giving valuable contributions to society.
We will be seen as persons in the schools and universities, in the workplaces,in society, in cultural life, in politics, in shops and restaurants.
We will be heard as respected members of the family, in the planning, designing and development of goods and services, as citizens, with all the rights and duties citizens have.
We will be seen as persons whose diverse bodies, minds and abilities enrich ourselves and society. We will be heard when we accept or refuse medical interventions.
We will be seen, all of us. the Convention is about all persons with all types of disabilities as a part of human diversity, including women, children, older persons, indigenous peoples and members of cultural minorities with disabilities.
Our life stories will be heard and understood.
We will be seen and heard in the media. All this will make society inclusive.
This Convention gives us a legal basis and it will be reflected in laws of all state parties that have ratified or will ratify this Convention. We have legal capacity and may act according to our own decisions.
We, disabled persons of the world, know that the hardest work is ahead of us. We want all states to ratify without reservations or declarations.
The Convention has to be translated to every language of the world, including every sign language. All ratifying states will interpret and implement the Convention in its national actions plans, legislation and systems.
We, disabled persons of the World, are able and willing to assist states and local authorities in doing that work. Not only are we willing, we also insist on participating in the work. We are the experts on disability issues at a local, national, regional and world level.
Therefore IDA launches the IDA CRPD Forum. The forum consists of all kinds of organisations, working in the disability field, on a local, national, regional and international level. The forum collects expertise on all disability issues, not only from organisations of, but also from organisation working with persons with disabilities.The forum works under the leadership of IDA, which is composed of organisations of persons with disabilities. The forum assists with translations into national, local and regional laws and policies.The forum produces interpretation and implementation material, launches campaigns and follows the developments around the implementation and ratification of the convention all over the world. The forum also assists with the implementation of the Convention in all UN agencies. The forum continues the important work of the International Disability Caucus, but now in the new era after the Convention enters into force. The forum continues the slogan: “Nothing about us without us”.