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Gordon's D-Zone Arcive (2006-2014)

Saturday, May 03, 2008


Centre: Flag of the United Nations

Well, at long last, the UN Convention Rights of Disabled Persons comes into force today... It' s been a long process that started off in 2001 and it's positive news!! We've arrived at this stage after the 20th country (Ecuador) ratified it on April 3.

Lately, I had to get acquainted with what the difference between ratification and signing a Convention were. Whilst signing indicates that a member state agrees with the principles of any Convention, by ratifying it the member state would have committed itself to make the changes required to make the
principles an actuality.

There are two main things I like about the Convention:

1. It recognises that disability is not simply a product of biology but is mainly caused by social/environmental factors.

2. It acknowledges the social, economic, civil and political rights of the 260 million disabled people living around the world.

I've found a lot of useful information on the net about the Convention and how organisations may help promote its ratification if the country they live in hasn't as yet ratified itt. One such tool is one provided by Disabled People International called the Ratification Toolkit.

Now, some may think that the Convention is meant to give disabled people new rights. However, in truth, the Convention is only guiding countries into how best to ensure that disabled people are really given their rights in society. In this sense, disabled people were often absent when countries reported about their human rights records. One of the reasons may have been that our problems have often been seen as individual and medical, and have only relatively recently been seen in terms of interactions between biology and society.

Currently, Malta is only a signatory to this historic Convention and of course I'll be doing my part to urge the Maltese parliament to ratify it. In that way, disabled people in Malta (like me!) may look forward to a better future and greater equality.

However, I am cautiously optimistic about the results of the Convention. True, it signifies a positive step forward for disabled people worldwide but we shouldn't forget that the UN had issued its International Bill of Human Rights after the Second World War and even today we know of human right abuses. Similarly, the entry of treaties such as that against discrimination against women or on racial discrimination doesn’t mean that the world has achieved equality between the sexes or between peoples.

I know that I may be a bit cynical here … but my point is that the UN Convention itself cannot be said to be the solution to inequality but rather the beginning of a journey to attaining equality of disabled people. In this, world governments, we as disabled people and non-disable people need to help make equality possible...

PS: Many of the links point to the pages found on the DPI ratification toolkit which also provides a good description of the UN's history and existing international law.