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Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 December 2006, 18:25 GMT
UN adopts disability convention
By Geoff Adams-Spink
Age & disability correspondent, BBC News website

Delegates discussing the draft convention at the UN in New York
The treaty was agreed at the UN in August
The United Nations General Assembly has unanimously adopted a treaty on the rights of disabled people.

The text of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was agreed by a UN committee in August.

Countries that ratify it will have to introduce laws ensuring that disabled people are treated fairly.

The treaty will enter into force once it has been ratified by 20 countries. It is thought that the world's disabled population is 650m.

It will now be up to the 192 member states of the UN to ratify it and to begin putting it into practice.

The treaty will be signed by the European Union as a legal entity - a first in the field of human rights.

Fastest legislation?

The convention is the most rapidly negotiated human rights treaty in the history of international law - as well as the first such treaty in the 21st Century, said UN Deputy Secretary General Mark Malloch Brown.

"Too often, those living with disabilities have been seen as objects of embarrassment, and at best, of condescending pity and charity," Mr Malloch Brown said.

"On paper they have enjoyed the same rights as others. In real life, they have often been relegated to the margins and denied the opportunities that others take for granted."

The convention sets out in detail the rights of disabled people. It covers civil and political rights, accessibility, participation and inclusion, education, health, employment and social protection.

The treaty also recognises that attitudes need to change if disabled people are to achieve equality.

Countries that adopt the treaty will have to get rid of laws, customs and practices that discriminate against disabled people.

An optional protocol to the treaty will give groups and individuals the right to petition the Committee on Rights of Persons with Disabilities once they have exhausted all avenues within their own country.

A committee of independent experts will receive reports from states that have ratified the convention on the progress made in meeting their obligations.

The convention will be opened for signature and ratification in March 2007.


SEE ALSO
UN agrees disability treaty text
26 Aug 06 |  Special Reports
At-a-glance: UN disability treaty
25 Aug 06 |  Special Reports

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