With more than 600 million people suffering from disabilities worldwide, a special United Nations committee today began a new two-week session in a bid to finalize the first-ever global convention enshrining equality and non-discrimination for affected persons.
Opening the sixth session of the UN General Assembly’s Ad Hoc Committee on a Comprehensive and Integral Convention to Promote and Protect the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities, Chairman Don MacKay, of New Zealand, said the panel’s work, “one of the most worth exercises before the United nations at this time,” would clearly have a huge impact on many lives.
Recalling the progress made in the Committee’s past five sessions, he noted that the convention was long, running some 30 draft articles. Moving a convention of that size along would require a huge commitment by all. It was necessary to apply pressure to quicken the pace in order to enable the Committee to complete its work as soon as possible.
“Every year without a completed convention is another year lost without implementation, and another year in which colleagues with disabilities do not have a convention enshrining their rights,” said Mr. MacKay.
During its two-week session, the Committee will conduct a second reading of articles 15 to 24, which address issues such as children with disabilities, education, accessibility and personal mobility. Those articles also cover the rights to health and rehabilitation, the right to work, social security and adequate standards of living, and participation in political and public life, cultural life, recreation, leisure and sport.
A major aspect of the drafting of the Convention is the participation of disability non-governmental organizations and national human rights institutions from around the world. Some 500 representatives of disability organizations are expected to attend the session.