Disabilities and rehabilitation

Another important milestone in the pursuit of true equality for persons with disabilities

At the opening day for signature of the convention on the rights of persons with disabilities and its optional protocol, 81 countries and the European Community signed the convention, 44 countries signed the optional protocol and one country, Jamaica, ratified the Convention. This is said to be a record at the opening for any UN treaty and specifically for a human rights treaty.

The convention outlines the civil, cultural, political, social and economic rights of persons with disabilities. States that have signed the convention agree to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of the human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities, and to prompt respect for their inherent dignity. The optional protocol gives the monitoring body, to be set up under the convention, the power to address individual complaints or violations of rights in those countries that have signed both agreements.

The signing of the convention and optional protocol are important initial steps that show countries pledge to combat discrimination in all forms. The next essential step is the ratification of the treaty and the optional protocol. Ratification, makes the initial pledge binding and enforceable under national law. The convention will come into force one month after 20 countries have ratified the treaty and ten have ratified the optional protocol. A strong engagement in implementation and monitoring the application of the convention are essential to fully protect the rights of persons with disabilities.

Very strong collaboration between States, the UN, civil society and national human rights institutions has been the prime mover to bring about this UN convention. The disability community has been unwavering in its commitment to achieving, through this convention and hence by the force of law their legitimate right to equality and justice. Continued collaboration is essential to secure the effective implementation of the convention and its optional protocol so that law is transformed into meaningful concrete actions that engender real change.

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