Monday 14 April 2008

UN Convention on theRights of Persons with Disabilities



Last Thursday, 10th April 2008, it was reported that Malaysia had finally signed the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities at the United Nations headquarters in New York.

The signing was witnessed by Annebeth Rosenboom, chief of the treaty section at the UN's Office of Legal Affairs, the Malaysian Consular officer at New York Raja Nurshirwan Zainal Abidin, and Malaysia's National Population and Family Development director Aminah Abdul Rahman.

The Convention demands the disabled are equally given all human rights and ensures full and effective participation as well as total inclusion in society, on an equal basis.

The eight general principles of the Convention are:

  1. Respect for inherent dignity and individual autonomy;
  2. Non-discrimination;
  3. Full and effective participation and inclusion in society;
  4. Respect for difference and acceptance of persons with disabilities as part of human diversity and humanity;
  5. Equality of opportunity;
  6. Accessibility;
  7. Gender equality and respect for the evolving capacities of children with disabilities; and
  8. Respect for the rights of children with disabilities to develop and preserve their identities.

Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol was adopted on 13th December 2006 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, and was opened for signature on 30 March 2007.

There were initially 82 signatories to the Convention, 44 signatories to the Optional Protocol, and 1 ratification of the Convention, this is the highest number of signatories in history to a UN Convention on its opening day.

It is the first comprehensive human rights treaty of the 21st century and is the first human rights convention to be open for signature by regional integration organisations.

The Convention marks a "paradigm shift" in attitudes and approaches to persons with disabilities.

It takes to a new height the movement from viewing persons with disabilities as "objects" of charity, medical treatment and social protection towards viewing persons with disabilities as "subjects" with rights, who are capable of claiming those rights and making decisions for their lives based on their free, and informed consent as well as being active members of society.

The Convention is intended as a human rights instrument with an explicit, social development dimension. It adopts a broad categorization of persons with disabilities and reaffirms that all persons with all types of disabilities must enjoy all human rights and fundamental freedoms.

It clarifies and qualifies how all categories of rights apply to persons with disabilities and identifies areas where adaptations have to be made for persons with disabilities to effectively exercise their rights and areas where their rights have been violated, and where protection of rights must be reinforced.

The Convention was negotiated during eight sessions of an Ad Hoc Committee of the General Assembly from 2002 to 2006, making it the fastest negotiated human rights treaty.

To date there have been:-

· 127 signatories to the Convention (including Malaysia)

· 71 signatories to the Optional Protocol

· 20 ratifications of the Convention

· 13 ratifications of the Optional Protocol

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities received its 20th ratification on 3rd April 2008, triggering the entry into force of the Convention and its Optional Protocol 30 days later. This marks a major milestone in the effort to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms of persons with disabilities, and to promote respect for their inherent dignity.

The Convention will enter into force on the thirtieth day after the 20th ratification or accession. The Optional Protocol will enter into force on the thirtieth day after the 10th ratification or accession.

The Secretary General will convene the first meeting of the Conference of States Parties no later than six months after the entry into force of the Convention, which will elect members of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

This Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities shall be established at the time of entry into force of the Convention, and shall consist of twelve experts. After an additional sixty ratifications or accessions to the Convention, the membership of the Committee shall increase to a maximum number of eighteen members.

Malaysia has thus far only signed the Convention, this is heartening but half hearted, as Malaysia has not ratified it, nor has it signed the Protocol

  • Malaysia signed the convention: 8th April 2008

Merely signing the Convention is not good enough, Malaysia, if it is serious and sincere about ensuring that the rights of persons with disabilities are protected,

(this means that there must be zero discrimination, respect for their dignity and autonomy, universal accessibility, equal opportunity, full inclusion and effective participation, gender quality, respect for the rights of children with disabilities, and the full compliance of all aspects of the Convention and the Protocol),

should also ratify the Convention, sign the Protocol and then ratify the Protocol, only then will the rights of persons with disabilities in Malaysia be able to be fully upheld.

Anything less is totally unacceptable, it demeans and disrespects each and every one of the disabled citizens of Malaysia.

Qui dedit benificium taceat; narret qui accepit

- Let him who has done a good deed be silent; let him who has received it tell it.

No comments: