Disabled youth plead for inclusion at UN meeting on disability rights treaty

18 January 2006

Disabled young people from Bangladesh, China and the United Kingdom today urged a United Nations committee drafting the first-ever convention on disability rights to address the exclusion and neglect of an estimated 150-200 million disabled children around the world.

“Even if we come from different backgrounds and different cultures, we have to face the same exclusions,” said Nazma Akter, of Bangladesh, one of the six young representatives of the organization Save the Children addressing the General Assembly’s Ad Hoc Committee on the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities.

According to Save the Children, children with disabilities in many countries are not even registered at birth. Only 5 per cent of disabled children in developing countries have access to support to any kind, and less than 5 per cent go to school.

Lucia Bellini, 21, of the United Kingdom, said special schools are not good for disabled people because they tend to exclude and separate them from other pupils and reduce their chances to attend university and find a good job, leading to discrimination and rejection.

“Young persons with disabilities should have equal opportunities to have equal relationships to take part in community meetings and have normal social experiences,” she said.

In a joint statement released today, the young people said, “Living in a world which does not value everyone equally is to live in a world which dehumanizes everyone.”

The three-week meeting of the Ad Hoc Committee, which opened Monday, is reviewing a preliminary text of the Convention. Its Article 7 deals with children with disabilities.

The text also addresses such issues such as physical access to public facilities, the right to life and non-discrimination for persons with disabilities, liberty of movement, awareness regarding disability, equal recognition before the law, independent living and inclusion in the community.


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