Monday, August 28, 2006

Disability Treaty Draft Sent to Gen. Assembly

See this from CNN. Excerpts:

A treaty to protect the rights of the world's 650 million disabled people cleared a key hurdle as a U.N. General Assembly panel approved a draft text of the convention.

The text now goes to the full 192-nation General Assembly, which is expected to approve it during its 61st annual session to open next month. It would then be opened for signature and finally for ratification.

"You are sending an absolutely wonderful message to the world. You are sending the message that we want to have a life with dignity for all and that all human beings are equal," Assembly President Jan Eliasson told cheering delegates after its adoption Friday by consensus, without a recorded vote.

* * *

The final sticking point centered on a proposal by Sudan to ensure protection of the rights of the disabled living under foreign occupation -- a reference to Palestinians living under Israeli occupation. Israel branded the provision an attempt to politicize the treaty and the United States demanded a recorded vote on the provision.

Delegates voted 102-5, with eight abstentions, to keep the provision in the draft. Voting to delete it were Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan and the United States.

Another rough spot centered on language requiring governments to provide the same sexual and reproductive health services to the disabled as to other population groups.

That provision was dropped without a vote in the face of strong opposition from anti-abortion delegates.

Another controversy dealt with the right of the state to commit disabled individuals to institutional care without their consent. A compromise approved by the panel stated: "Every person with a disability has a right to respect for his or her physical and mental integrity on an equal basis with others."

And check out this from DPI:

Today, August 25, 2006, is a day to celebrate! We have achieved something that has been long been the dream of our membership: A UN Convention on our human rights!

Twenty-five years ago at DPI's 1st World Congress, in Singapore, we recognized the need to unite and to fight for our human rights as disabled people. Today, with this victory we are united as never before! With the adoption of the draft convention by the Ad Hoc Committee, we can celebrate a major victory on the long road to equality and we should be very proud of this achievement.

At the beginning of the current negotiations process DPI made clear our view that there were no human rights to which disabled people do not lay claim. The draft instrument accepted here today recognizes and entrenches our rights in the UN Human Rights framework, and in this way is a huge victory for us all.

The new Treaty will be of immense value to us as we continue along the path to the full realization of our rights! In closing we wish to take a moment and thank especially the Chair of the Ad Hoc Committee, Ambassador Don MacKay from New Zealand, along with all the government delegations, the Bureau, DESA and the Secretariat, and of course our NGO colleagues from around the world, all of whom have worked so hard to bring us this remarkable new instrument. We look forward to the UN General Assembly move to adopt this Convention at its upcoming session so that we can begin the important processes of ratification and implementation of this Convention!


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