Friday, March 30, 2007

UN Disability Treaty Open for Signature Today

"The existing human rights system was meant to promote and protect the rights of persons with disabilities, but the existing standards and mechanisms have in fact failed to provide adequate protection to the specific cases of persons with disabilities. It is clearly time for the UN to remedy this shortcoming."

United Nations Human Rights Commissioner Louise Arbour

Today, in a ceremony at the United Nations, the U.N.’s Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities becomes open for signature. More than 70 countries are expected to ratify it.

The treaty was first adopted by the U.N. in December after three of years of negotiations, the fasted negotiated treaty ever. Representatives from more than 350 disability organizations worldwide attended the ceremony. Disability rights organizations from around the world came together to work for a treaty that would establish and fight for the rights of all people with disabilities.

Thomas Schindlmayr of the U.N. Department of Economic and Social Affairs summed up the treaty’s goal, “It’s not asking for persons with disabilities to have any new rights. It’s not asking for anything else that other people don’t enjoy already. It’s asking that persons with disabilities enjoy the same opportunities in society that everybody already enjoys.”

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