United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

FOCUS

The United Nations General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on December 13, 2006. The Convention has eight signatories and 182 countries – including India – have ratified or acceded to it. (Signatories are qualified to ratify, accept or approve a treaty. Ratification is an 'international act' whereby a State indicates its consent to be bound to a treaty.)

Its Preamble emphasises “…the importance of mainstreaming disability issues as an integral part of relevant strategies of sustainable development.” It invokes the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, stating that everyone is entitled to the rights and freedoms enshrined in these treaties, without distinction of any kind.

Articles 1-33 cover recommendations to State Parties on securing rights and fundamental freedoms for all persons with disabilities, without any discrimination. Articles 34-39 propose establishing a Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities composed of nationals of the State Parties to the Convention; these Articles prescribe the manner in which State Parties shall report the measures they have adopted to observe the rights recognised by the Convention. Articles 40-50 discuss the process by which the Convention is to be ratified and amended. (In UN documents, a ‘State Party’ to a treaty is a country that has ratified or acceded to that particular treaty, and is therefore legally bound by the provisions in the instrument.)

The following are excerpts from 12 of Articles 1 to 33 that remain especially relevant to the present times:

Article 1: The purpose of this Convention is “…to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities, and to promote respect for their inherent dignity.” The Convention defines ‘persons with disabilities’ as those with long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments, which – due to various barriers – may hinder their ‘full and effective participation’ in society on an equal basis with others.

Article 5: States Parties shall recognise that all persons are equal before the law and are entitled to equal protection and benefits of the law, without any discrimination. States Parties shall guarantee ‘equal and effective legal protection’ to those with disabilities against discrimination on any ground. To promote equality and eliminate discrimination, States Parties shall take appropriate steps so that reasonable accommodation is provided to persons with disabilities. Certain measures which are necessary to achieve equality of persons with disabilities shall not be considered as discrimination under this Convention.

Article 6: Women and girls with disabilities are subject to discrimination on multiple grounds, and State Parties shall take measures to ensure they fully and equally enjoy all human rights and fundamental freedoms. States Parties shall take appropriate measures to ensure the “full development, advancement and empowerment” of women so that they can exercise the human rights and fundamental freedoms set forth in this Convention.

Article 7: States Parties shall take all measures to secure the human rights and fundamental freedoms of children with disabilities, on an equal basis with other children. The best interests of the child shall be the primary consideration in all actions concerning children with disabilities. States Parties shall ensure that children with disabilities have the right to express their views freely on all matters affecting them, that their views are given due weight according to the child’s age and maturity and on an equal basis with other children, and that children with disabilities have disability and age-appropriate assistance to realise these rights.

Article 8: States Parties shall adopt immediate, effective and appropriate measures to raise awareness about, and to foster respect for, the rights of persons with disabilities; to combat stereotypes, prejudices and harmful practices relating to persons with disabilities; and to promote awareness of the capabilities of persons with disabilities. State Parties shall also initiate and maintain effective public awareness campaigns; foster an attitude of respect for the rights of persons with disabilities at all levels of the education system; encourage the media to portray persons with disabilities in a manner that is consistent with the purpose of this Convention; and promote ‘awareness-training programmes’ on the rights of persons with disabilities.

Article 9: To enable persons with disabilities to live independently and participate fully in all aspects of life, States Parties shall take appropriate measures to ensure that persons with disabilities – on an equal basis with others – have access to the physical environment such as roads, buildings, schools, workplaces, housing and medical facilities; transportation; information and communications; and other facilities and services provided to the public in urban and in rural areas.

Article 16: States Parties shall take all legislative, administrative, social, educational and other measures to protect persons with disabilities from all forms of exploitation, violence and abuse, including gender-based aspects, as well as abuse that occurs both within and outside the home.

Article 24: States Parties shall recognise the right of persons with disabilities to education, without discrimination, and on the basis of ‘equal opportunity’. States Parties shall ensure an inclusive education system at all levels directed at “the full development of human potential and sense of dignity and self-worth” as well as the creative, mental and physical development of persons with disabilities to their fullest potential.

Article 25: States Parties shall recognise that persons with disabilities have a right to the highest attainable standard of health without discrimination on any basis. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure that persons with disabilities have access to ‘gender-sensitive’ health services, including health-related rehabilitation. They shall provide persons with disabilities with the same range, quality and standard of free or affordable healthcare as provided to other persons. Health services shall be provided as close to “people’s own communities” as possible, and health professionals shall be required to provide care of the same quality to persons with disabilities as to others, on the basis of free and informed consent. State Parties shall also prohibit discrimination against persons with disabilities in the provision of health insurance.

Article 27: States Parties shall recognise the right of persons with disabilities to work on an equal basis with others. These countries shall safeguard and promote this right to work – including for those who acquire a disability during the course of employment – by taking appropriate steps to prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability in all forms of employment. State Parties shall promote employment opportunities for persons with disabilities in the labour market, and assist such persons to find, obtain, maintain and return to employment.

Focus by Riya Behl.

AUTHOR

United Nations

COPYRIGHT

United Nations

PUBLICATION DATE

06 Dec, 2006

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