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U.N. General Assembly Approves International Disability Rights Treaty
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
December 13, 2006

UNITED NATIONS--In a consensus vote Wednesday, the United Nations General Assembly approved its first ever global treaty to protect the rights of the world's 650 people with disabilities.

U.N. member nations will be able to sign onto the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities beginning on March 30 of next year. The treaty, which is being hailed as the first U.N. human rights treaty in the 21st century, will come into force once 20 nations have ratified it.

"Attitudes need to change. Societies need to be more inclusive and accessible and persons with disabilities need to be more empowered," said New Zealand's U.N. Ambassador Don MacKay, who chaired the ad hoc committee that drafted the convention.

For more than five years, delegates from over 100 countries worked with hundreds of representatives from non-governmental disability organizations to draft and then negotiate many details of the treaty.

The final version of the "Comprehensive and Integral International Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities" has 40 articles addressing such issues as a right to be free from forced institutionalization; to own and inherit property; participate in public and cultural life; receive an adequate standard of living; have access to affordable equipment; and protection of privacy. It also calls for eliminating barriers to employment, the environment, transportation, public facilities and communication, and for developing countries to receive help in implementing the treaty.

The United States will likely not be one of those countries signing on to the convention.

The Bush administration announced in June of 2003 that the U.S. would not sign any international treaty protecting people with disabilities from discrimination. Administration officials said national laws, such as the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act, should cover such rights. 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.

Related:
"U.N. approves disabled convention" (CNN)

http://edition.cnn.com/2006/HEALTH/12/13/un.disabled.ap/
Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (United Nations)
http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/enable/rights/convtexte.htm

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