International Disability Rights
People with disabilities are one of the world's largest minorities numbering six hundred million, almost one in ten of the world's population. According to former United Nations Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar in a 1998 report to the U.N., they still face a daily battle for their basic Human Rights. He says that, "Equality of opportunity simply does not exist where a disabled child cannot go to school, where a disabled mother has no health care, where a disabled man cannot get training or a job, or where disabled people cannot move freely on the streets." For over fifteen years we have collaborated internationally on legislative, training, advocacy and community organizing strategies with leaders with disabilities, parents of children with disabilities, and advocacy, services, and law and policy organizations.
United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities
Responding to increasing pressure from the international disability community, the U.N. General Assembly adopted on December 19, 2001 a resolution to create an Ad Hoc Committee "to consider proposals for a comprehensive and integral international convention to protect and promote the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities," a resolution that was first passed by the General Assembly's Third Committee on November 28, 2001.
Momentum towards achieving a convention built with the passage of a Resolution on a comprehensive and integral international Convention to promote and protect the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities by the Commission for Social Development. The Resolution recommended the adoption of the convention by the U.N.'s high–level Economic and Social Council, including the convention's requirement for ECOSOC to remain apprised of the matter.
At its Eighth session, held on August 14 – 25, 2006, the Ad Hoc Committee adopted the draft text of the Convention including an optional protocol, as a whole, without a vote. The Ad Hoc Committee decided to establish an open-ended drafting group tasked with ensuring uniformity of terminology throughout the text of the draft convention and harmonizing the versions in the official languages of the United Nations. The drafting group reported on the results of its work to a resume session of the Ad Hoc Committee held during the sixty-first session of the General Assembly in order to enable the Ad Hoc Committee to forward the finalized text of the convention to Assembly for final adoption. The Plenary of the General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) on December 13, 2006.
Advocates have maintained that while existing U.N. human rights treaties, which increasingly have been interpreted as encompassing disability, offer significant potential to advance the rights of individuals with disabilities, these general treaties have been widely underutilized in the area of disability discrimination. The process of recasting disability policy internationally from the charity or medical model to the social model unquestionably would accelerate if human rights instruments were employed more frequently on behalf of people with disabilities. The Disability Convention, however, will unequivocally establish and elevate disability to its rightful place as an internationally recognized and enforceable human rights concern.
Professor Gerard Quinn of the Law Faculty at NUI, Galway has been elected to two prestigious committees in recognition of his work on international disability law.
Professor Quinn, who is a member of the Irish Human Rights Commission, has been made the 'focal point' for the work of National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) on disability. NHRIs are composed of human rights commissions or similar bodies from around the world and are co–ordinated by an International Coordinating Committee based in the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva.
The UN's General Assembly adopts the convention on disability
The UN Division for Social Policy and Development has more information and related documents.
Interactive resource guides, providing information to help DPI members and others work for ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.