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Talks advance on UN treaty for disabled persons, chief negotiator says

Talks advance on UN treaty for disabled persons, chief negotiator says

Government delegates today wrapped up a two-week negotiating session aimed at drafting an international treaty to protect the rights of disabled persons, who make up one tenth of the global population.

"We need to change the current attitudes, environment and economic realities experienced by individuals with disabilities," said Luis Gallegos Chiriboga of Ecuador, the Chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee on a Comprehensive and Integral International Convention on Protection and Promotion of the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities. "In truth we need to change society."

The UN World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that there are 600 million people with disabilities. "The experts consider that 30 to 40 per cent of the households of the world have members with disabilities," the Chairman said, pointing out that this figure was expected to rise in the future as the global population as a whole ages.

A holistic international convention on the rights of persons with disabilities must encompass not only traditional human rights concerns but other issues emerging in today's rapidly changing world, he said. These ranged from technological advances to epidemics and poverty.

"What we're looking for is integrating disabilities in a worldwide covenant that would protect those rights, but that will also give [disabled persons] opportunities, with new technologies, of integrating into society," he said.