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Talks on Disabilities Rights Treaty to Resume

UN Talks to Complete Treaty on Rights for Persons With Disabilities to Resume Monday

New York, Aug 13 2006 11:00AM

Negotiators from around the world will convene at United Nations Headquarters in New York on Monday to resume talks aimed at completing a new convention that would protect the rights of persons with disabilities.

The delegates, from the 192 UN Member States and some 90 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) focusing on disabilities issues, will work to hammer out remaining differences in the 33-article draft convention. If the negotiations succeed, the convention can be formally adopted by the General Assembly at its next session and then open for signature and ratification.

"There are many indications that the international community wishes to conclude the work of the convention," said Don MacKay of New Zealand, who is chairing the negotiations. "We will have a good crack at it," he added, but cautioned that two weeks for the negotiations was a short time to complete agreements on a number of complex issues.

"No one is going to get their own way," Mr. MacKay said. "People are going to have to start compromising."

In theory, the Chairman said, there is no need for a new convention, which does not create any new rights. But in practice, he added, "persons with disabilities are one of the most marginalized groups in society." He said the new treaty would help raise the standards for accessibility that would help make life better for persons with disabilities.

The proposed United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities would mark a major shift in the way the world's 650 million people with disabilities are treated. Presently, discrimination against persons with disabilities is widespread -- for example it is estimated that 90 per cent of children with disabilities in developing countries do not go to school.

The UN's Economic and Social Council, at its July session in Geneva, welcomed the progress achieved so far in the negotiations and, in a resolution, called the a priority."

Persons with disabilities remain among the most marginalized of all populations and are barred by a wide range of physical, legal and social barriers from achieving their full potential. But officials say the convention could lead the way to legislation that reshapes the public's thinking about persons with disabilities, in everything from building and civic design to transportation, education, employment and recreation.

Only about 45 countries presently have legislation that deals with persons with disabilities. By ratifying the convention, a country accepts its legal obligations and incorporates them into their own legal mechanisms.

The pact would obligate countries, among other measures, to gradually include disability-friendly features into the construction of new facilities, promote and improve access to education and information and introduce measures that eliminate discriminatory practices against persons with disabilities.


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