The United Nations human rights chief today added her voice to the chorus welcoming the 100th ratification of the UN’s disability convention, but warned that too few countries currently have laws protecting persons with disabilities from discrimination.
“The adoption of this treaty brought great hope to many individuals with disabilities,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said. “It is great news that 100 States have now taken these standards on board in their legal systems and committed to making life better for people with disabilities.”
On Tuesday, Colombia ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which supports greater access for such persons to participate in their communities. It is widely regarded as the first international human rights treaty of this century.
Ms. Pillay called on all remaining Member States to ratify the treaty, describing the convention’s 100th ratification as an “important step” towards universal acceptance of persons with disabilities.
“These States have recognized and affirmed that a person with a disability is not the problem that needs treatment – they are ready to treat discrimination in society.”
Yet only 45 countries have anti-discrimination laws to tackle the issues faced by persons with disabilities, she noted, adding that many people are therefore excluded from voting due to accessibility issues or suffer even more grave violations of their rights.
Ms. Pillay urged all States to take steps to ensure that people with disabilities have access to education and employment, can move freely and live independently, and have the support needed to make legal decisions.
“Change might not happen overnight,” she concluded. “But the first steps must be taken today.”
The convention was adopted by the General Assembly in 2006 in an effort to ensure that persons with disabilities enjoy the same human rights as everyone else. Eighty-two countries immediately signed it – the highest number for a UN treaty in history.