UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities goes into force today

Today, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) entered into force. When you realize that an estimated 650 million people worldwide are affected by this groundbreaking treaty, this is very big news.

According to the news release about CRPD from the UN News Centre today, the rights of persons with disabilities were not really covered or protected by existing human rights treaties. As a result, the Convention was born.

The purpose of CRPD

The purpose of the present 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.

Persons with disabilities include those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.

from Article 1 - Purpose of the Convention for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Timeline of the CRPD

13 December 2006 – the UN General Assembly adopted by consensus the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol.

30 March 2007 – the Convention and Optional Protocol opened for signature at UN Headquarters in New York. States or regional integration organizations may now sign the Convention and Optional Protocol at any time at UN Headquarters in New York. Signature creates an obligation, in the period between signature and ratification or consent to be bound, to refrain in good faith from acts that would defeat the object and purpose of the treaty.

3 April 2008 - The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities received its 20th ratification on 3 April 2008, triggering the entry into force of the Convention and its Optional Protocol 30 days later.

The guiding principles, which underlie the Convention and each one of its specific articles, are

  1. Respect for inherent dignity, individual autonomy including the freedom to make one' own choices, and independence of persons
  2. Non-discrimination
  3. Full and effective participation and inclusion in society
  4. Respect for difference and acceptance of persons with disabilities as part of human diversity and humanity
  5. Equality of opportunity
  6. Accessibility
  7. Equality between men and women
  8. Respect for the evolving capacities of children with disabilities and respect for the right of children with disabilities to preserve their identities

This is not just a document.

The G3ict and the ITU-T hosted a forum about the convention on April 21, 2008. The goal of this forum was to collect information about activities in member states and international standards that can be the basis for implementation of the convention.

AccessAbility SIG member, Whitney Quesenbery, chaired a panel at the G3ICT/ITU Forum. Her panel (on human interfaces) addressed (in part) the role of ICT in supporting article (e) of the preamble of the convention:

(e) Recognizing that disability is an evolving concept and that disability results from the interaction between persons with impairments and attitudinal and environmental barriers that hinders their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.

Results of this forum are expected in the near future. It will be exciting to follow the reactions and actions in the wake of the Convention going into force.

For more information about the convention, the complete text of the convention, G3ict, and ITU-T, visit these links:

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