International Disability Rights Treaty Nears Final Draft
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
February 15, 2006
UNITED NATIONS--The first international treaty to specifically address the rights of people with disabilities came closer to becoming a reality last week as the committee drafting the document finished its sixth meeting.
The most recent draft of the agreement reportedly contains more than 40 articles, addressing equality and non-discrimination, raising disability awareness, accessibility, right to life, equal protection under law, access to justice, liberty and security of the person, freedom of movement, personal mobility, independent living and community inclusion.
Last Friday, Inter Press Service News Agency reported that the Ad Hoc Committee on a Comprehensive and Integral International Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities still had to negotiate questions regarding the kinds of technical and economic assistance governments should be required to provide, how the treaty would be monitored, and whether the treaty should include separate articles addressing women and children with disabilities.
Another session is expected for the 400 or so delegates to sort out those details, which means the final draft would likely not be ready until January 2007.
Sweden's Lex Grandia, president of the World Federation of DeafBlind and representative of the International Disability Caucus, said it is important not to rush the process that began in November 2001.
"We know that many disabled people are waiting for this convention, we know that it needs to be done, but we want to have a 'quality', not a 'quantity' convention," Grandia said at the session's closing press conference.
The United Nation has estimated that about one-tenth of the world's population -- equaling about 600 million people -- currently experience a disability. Most of them live in poverty and under oppression.
The Bush administration announced in June of 2003 that the U.S. government would not sign any international treaty protecting people with disabilities from discrimination. U.S. officials said such rights should be covered by national measures, such as the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act. While the U.S. would support the work of the panel, the administration said it would not sign any document that could be legally binding.
"Key articles in draft disability treaty approved at UN meeting" (United Nations)
"First-Ever Treaty for People with Disabilities Gains Ground" (Inter Press Service News Agency)