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United Nations Disability 
Rights Convention

 

Worldwide there are approximately 600 million people with disabilities. In the year 2000, in the United States alone 41.9% (Source: US Census Bureau) of the population of 65 years and over live with some disability. The rights of disabled people both in rich and poor countries are often weak or at times non-existent. Global Action on Aging strongly supports an international convention on the rights of people with disabilities to safeguard those who enter old age with a lifelong disability as well as those who acquire a disabling condition in old age.  

In December 2001, Mexico, with the support of lobbying groups, initiated a UN General Assembly resolution to establish an Ad Hoc Committee to develop a proposal for an international convention on the rights of people with disability. The Committee entitled the "Ad Hoc Committee on a Comprehensive and Integral International Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities" is open to all Member States and observers to the United Nations.
 
On this page you will find GAA reports on the Committee's fifth session as well as documents relating to the situation of elderly with disabilities world wide.

Russia: Russia to Join the UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities (June 4, 2008)  
(Article in Russian)

Russia has finally announced it will soon sign the UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities adopted in 2006. The Russian government will be obliged to bring the law into compliance with international standards to ensure equal rights for persons with disabilities. So far, 127 countries have joined and 24 countries have ratified the UN Convention, marking a major milestone in promoting and ensuring the rights of people with disabilities around the world. 

World: UN Officials Hail Groundbreaking Treaty on Disability Rights (April 4, 2008)
Jordan: No.18; Tunisia: No. 19; Ecuador: No. 20. Thatís it! The first international convention on the rights of persons with disabilities reached the required 20 signatures on April 3, 2008, and will come into force on May 3. This convention protects the rights of health, employment and education for persons with disabilities. Some 106 additional States have already taken the preliminary steps to sign on. 

GAA: Highlights of the Discussion on Disabilities and Old Age (March 29, 2007)
On Thursday, March 29, 2007 (a day before the signing of the UN Convention on Disabilities) Global Action on Aging put together a discussion about disabilities and old age. The group included experts from the aging and disability community who could address the overlapping concerns of older persons and those who have lived with lifelong disabilities. The group discussed a variety of topics, concentrating on crosscutting issues between both communities. They also considered how older persons could use the Convention on Disability to advance and strengthen aging concerns. 
(Please click here for the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities)
(Please click here for the Disability Convention with markups of relevant aging/disability language – also available in Spanish- and French)
(Please click here for a PowerPoint presentation of the photos from the discussion)
(Click here to learn about the Convention process)
 

UN: Personal Account of GAA Deaf Research Associate at the Adoption of the Disability Convention (December 13, 2006)
Emmanuel Shwan, a Deaf Research Associate with Global Action on Aging, attended the UN General Assembly Adoption of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on December 13, 2006. Shwan provides his personal account of the challenges he faced in trying to obtain appropriate accommodations, either a sign language interpreter or a speech-to-text service. Despite the irony of facing barriers at the Convention’s adoption, Shwan makes a valid argument for accessibility. Shwan states, “…persons with disabilities have a lot to contribute to society and societies in turn should welcome the contributions they can make. In order to succeed with that goal, it is necessary to provide the disabled with the necessary accommodations to enable their successful integration into society.” 

UN: Report Based on the Meeting with Dr. Liisa Kauppinen, President Emerita of the World Federation of the Deaf (December 2006)
Global Action on Aging’s Deaf Research Associate, Emmanuel Shwan, interviewed Dr. Liisa Kauppinen, President Emerita of the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD), which is the sole world body that serves the interest of deaf people around the world. This report explains the WFD, its work, the challenges it faced during the drafting process for the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, and how the WFD can work with GAA on elderly deaf people around the world.

UN Celebrates Disability Treaty (May 12, 2008)
The UN General Assembly met on May 12 to celebrate the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. This Convention took effect on May 3 and was part of a Global Action on Aging report. To date, 25 countries have ratified the agreement. It remains vital that other countries sign, take action on the Convention, and ensure that its terms are put into effect. 

 

Eighth session | Seventh session | Sixth session | Fifth session | Fourth session 

Eighth session of the Ad Hoc Committee (August 14 - 25, 2006)

UN Agrees on Rights for Disabled (August 26, 2006)
Delegates at the United Nations concluded drafting the first ever internationally binding UN Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities. The convention that will go to the UN General Assembly in September for adoption, would require countries to “guarantee freedom from exploitation and abuse for the disabled” while safeguarding other, already existing rights, such as the right to vote. The United States announced that it will not sign on to the treaty. This article briefly summarizes the main points of disagreement and opposition of some countries, such as references to sexual and reproductive health and the actual monitoring of the treaty. 

NGOs Meet with the German Commissioner for the Interests of the Disabled (August 23, 2006)
Global Action on Aging, in cooperation with the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, set up a NGO meeting with Ms. Karin Evers-Meyer, German Commissioner for the Interests of the Disabled. Ms. Evers-Meyer and her delegation talked about Germany’s role in the UN’s drafting of a proposed Disability Human Rights Convention. She also detailed the situation of persons with disabilities in Germany. The invitees--international NGO-UN representatives and disability rights advocates-- raised questions and offered their insights about disability rights on an international and local levels. Please click on the link to access the meeting’s photo gallery. 

The Opening of the 8th Session (August 14, 2006)
GAA intern Evelyn Chow reports from the opening day of the eighth session of the Ad Hoc Committee on a Comprehensive and Integral International Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities. UN experts believe that the Committee will finalize its work in this session and that the UN General Assembly will pass a convention on the rights of persons with disabilities in September. 

Seventh session of the Ad Hoc Committee 
(January 16 - February 3, 2006)

World: Delegates at UN Meeting on Disability Rights See It as Major Step Forward (January 31, 2006)
The result of the UN's 7th session of the Ad Hoc Committee for a Comprehensive International Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities is very positive, say the delegates and participants at the end of the three weeks long session. With intensive work, the Committee seems to have taken a major step towards the achievement of the rights of disabled people through this convention. Global Action on Aging noticed that during the working sessions, delegates and disability advocates gave special attention to the rights of older people with disabilities.

Sixth session of the Ad Hoc Committee (August 1 - 12, 2005)

DPI’s Panel Discussion on Women with Disabilities (August 2, 2005)
GAA intern Evelyn Chow details the major issues and concerns raised at the sixth session of the Ad Hoc Committee’s Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities; which she attended at the United Nations on August 2, 2005. She summarizes, in particular, the challenges faced by elderly women with disabilities. 

Fifth session of the Ad Hoc Committee (January 24 - February 4, 2005)

Report on the UN Disability Conference, Charlotte Parkinson , DSW (January 24 - February 4, 2005)
Charlotte Parkinson, DSW, reports on the path-breaking UN Conference to draw up a text for consideration in the UN General Assembly on Rights and Protection of Persons with Disabilities throughout the world. Charlotte Parkinson, formerly directed a Mental Retardation program Catholic Charities, and advises GAA on disability issues as a volunteer. She monitored the Fifth Session of the Ad Hoc Committee debating the content of the proposed Convention and presents her summary of the discussions and issues that confronted the Country Delegations to the Session.  

Key Articles in Draft Disability Treaty Approved at UN Meeting (February 6, 2005)
In a major step forward for persons with disabilities and humanity as a whole, a United Nations negotiating panel, at the fifth session of the "Ad Hoc Committee on a Comprehensive and Integral International Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities," has reached agreement on key provisions in a treaty codifying their rights.  

Ending Poverty Means Empowering the Disabled (February 3, 2005)
In the context of the Fifth Session of the Ad Hoc Committee,
U.N. member states and disabled advocacy groups finalized a draft agreement on Thursday, February 3, to defend basic rights such as independent living, employment and equality, paving the way for the first-ever international treaty guaranteeing the rights of the disabled. 


Fourth session of the Ad Hoc Committee (August 23-September 3, 2004)

 
Report of the Ad Hoc Committee on its fourth session (August 23  - September 3, 2004)
During its fourth session (23 August - 3 September 2004), the Ad Hoc Committee concluded a first reading of the draft text of the convention as contained in the report of the Working Group (A/AC.265/2004/WG.1) by considering the title, the structure, part of the preamble, definitions (article 3) and monitoring (article 25). The Committee also adopted the organization of work proposed by the Chairman (see annexes II and III) and conducted a review of articles 1 to 15 and 24 bis. The Committee decided to further review the draft convention at its next sessions. On 25 August, the Ad Hoc Committee had before it the report of the Coordinator on the progress of informal discussions of draft articles 4, 5, 6 and 7 (see annex IV).

Summary of Discussions on Draft Articles by the Coordinator (August 23 - September 3, 2004)
GAA posts this summary to inform readers about the open process of working through the ideas and content of the proposed convention among Member States. The delegates represent nations that differ along lines of language, economic capacity, legal frameworks, attitudes toward persons with disabilities, among other issues, but join in common and open negotiating toward a goal. 

Government Contributions by Article (August 23 - September 3, 2004)

Governments looked at 25 different articles or issues facing persons with disability.  Here you can find specific government contributions to the debate on the Convention.  


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