UN Delegates Negotiate Details Of Disability Treaty
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
August 14, 2006
NEW YORK, NEW YORK--The chairman of the United Nations panel working on an international treaty to protect the rights of the people with disabilities said Monday that he hopes the treaty will be finalized within the next two weeks and adopted by the UN General Assembly before the year is over.
Don MacKay, New Zealand's permanent representative to the UN, was talking to delegates from nearly 200 countries and more than 90 non-governmental organizations who have gathered in New York to negotiate the differences that remain in the 33-article draft of the Comprehensive and Integral International Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
"We open with the expectation that we will be able to complete our work," MacKay said. "We have a lot of work to do but I am confident that we will manage to conclude our work successfully at this meeting."
The convention, which would be the first human rights treaty of the 21st century, will address the rights of the world's estimated 650 million people with disabilities, in areas such as equality, non-discrimination and equal recognition before the law; liberty and security; accessibility, personal mobility and independent living; right to health, work and education; and participation in political and cultural life.
Two of the most controversial items left to negotiate have to do with finding a definition of 'disability' that is acceptable to all member nations, along with how the treaty is to be monitored. According to a UN press statement, some representatives believe the proposed monitoring systems are too intrusive or burdensome.
The Bush administration announced in June of 2003 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 laws, such as the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act. While the U.S. would support the work of the panel, the administration said it would not sign any document that could be legally binding.
"Promoting the Rights of Persons with Disabilities" (United Nations)
"Think you know the score on disabilities? UN statistics blow away misconceptions" (Toronto Star)