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U.N. Treaty Must Address New Issues, Chairman Says
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
May 24, 2004

NEW YORK, NEW YORK--The United Nations Ad Hoc Committee will be meeting in New York for the next two weeks to finalize an international Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities.

Ambassador Luis Gallegos Chiriboga of Ecuador, who is the Chairman of the Committee, said Monday that negotiating the treaty will require "a new approach" which combines traditional human rights and anti-discrimination concerns with new issues such as genetics, biotechnology, wars, epidemics, poverty and access to technologies. He added that these new issues would significantly affect the lives of the world's estimated 600 million people with disabilities, along with societies as a whole.

Mr. Chiriboga stressed that it would take more than money to address the needs of persons with disabilities, and called for the Committee to consider integrated and holistic approaches to change society's customs and attitudes.

Jose Antonio Ocampo, the Under Secretary General for Economic and Social Affairs, delivering the Secretary General's message, encouraged the Committee to work to ensure that the treaty would fight poverty and promote social development by providing access to jobs, education, health care and political participation for people with disabilities in developing countries. An estimated 400-500 million people with disabilities live in developing countries, where they face tremendous discrimination and exclusion, he explained.

The multi-national Working Group on a Comprehensive and Integral International Convention on Protection and Promotion of the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities met earlier this year to draft the treaty to address equal rights, education, accessibility, independent living, employment, the rights of children with disabilities, and full participation of people with disabilities in society.

The Bush administration announced last June that the U.S. government would not sign any international treaty protecting people with disabilities from discrimination. Administration officials said such rights should be covered by national measures, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act. While the U.S. would support the work or the panel, the administration said it would not sign any document that could be legally binding.

Related:
Ad Hoc Committee On International Convention (United Nations)

http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/enable/rights/

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