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New Human Rights Convention Ratified

New Human Rights Convention Ratified

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the first human rights treaty of the twenty-first century, is designed to protect the rights of the world's estimated 650 million people with disabilities. It has just been ratified by the requisite twenty countries and will come into force on 3 May 2008.

"The Convention is a significant step in the achievement of human rights for all people," says New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO Member, Rosemary Du Plessis.

Some UN Member States such as Jamaica have already drafted new legislation in response to the Convention, while Panama, Trinidad and Tobago have included the Convention in their national constitutions.

New Zealand officials are working to ratify the convention by the end of 2008 and the Human Rights Commission and UNESCO are working on a communications strategy to promote awareness in New Zealand about the Convention.

The Convention identifies the rights of people with disabilities to education, health, work, adequate living conditions, freedom of movement, freedom from exploitation, and equal recognition before the law.

It also addresses the need for people with disabilities to have equal access to public transport, buildings and other facilities and recognises their capacity to make decisions for themselves.

Widely supported by the United Nations General Assembly as well as the 20 nations that have ratified the Convention, a further 106 countries - including New Zealand - have signed the Convention with a view to ratifying it in coming years.

It is estimated that two thirds of United Nations Member States have no legal protection for people with disabilities.

ENDS

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