Advancing the rights of persons with disabilities

Shoemaking at Soba Rehabilitation Institute for the Disabled in Khartoum

Persons with disabilities make up an estimated 10 per cent of the world’s population. On 11-15 April, the Fifth Session of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities met in Geneva. The 18-member Committee was created to monitor the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities with its aim to promote, protect and ensure the human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities.

In a statement, Akiko Ito, Chief of the Secretariat for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities within DESA, described the department’s role and work in advancing the rights of persons with disabilities in development. She also informed that 99 countries have so far ratified the Convention, which was adopted on 13 December 2006.

“While there is an increase in number of ratifications… the lack of expertise in how to plan and execute government policies and strategies remains a major challenge…The international community has reiterated that disability is a cross-cutting issue and all the internationally agreed development goals, including the MDGs, have relevance to disability and persons with disabilities… Mainstreaming disability in development agenda is defined as a strategy”, Ms. Ito emphasized.

Marcia Kran, Director of the Research and Right to Development Division of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, also highlighted the impressive level of ratifications that the Convention has reached in a short period of time and that this means that the work of the Committee will significantly increase.

Ms. Kran also noted that some states used lack of resources as a reason for not ratifying the Convention. However, as the Committee members illustrated, limited resources in many cases should not amount to become an obstacle to the implementation and the realization of rights of persons with disabilities.

At this session, the Committee also reviewed the first country report, the initial report of Tunisia, and established a working group on accessibility to public transportation and airline transport among other things.

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