Why is the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities important?

Online Q&A
Reviewed September 2013

Q: Why is the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities important?

A: People with disabilities are often denied chances to work, go to school and participate fully in society - which creates barriers for their prosperity and well being. The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is important because it is a tool for ensuring that people with disabilities have access to the same rights and opportunities as everybody else. There are around 1 billion people with disabilities in the world. They are often the poorest of the poor. The stigma and discrimination they suffer are common in all societies.

The Convention is a human rights treaty designed by representatives of the international community - including people with disabilities, government officials, representatives of nongovernmental organizations and others - to change the way people with disabilities are viewed and treated in their societies.

Rather than considering disability as an issue of medicine, charity or dependency, the Convention challenges people worldwide to understand disability as a human rights issue. The Convention covers many areas where obstacles can arise, such as physical access to buildings, roads and transportation, and access to information through written and electronic communications. The Convention also aims to reduce stigma and discrimination, which are often reasons why people with disabilities are excluded from education, employment and health and other services.

For the first time, a legally binding international instrument now exists to guarantee that States that have ratified the treaty will promote and protect the rights of people with disabilities. These States will next work on passing their own national civil rights legislation to improve the lives of people with disabilities.

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