ALERT – International Day of Persons with Disabilities: 10 years ago, the CRPD opened the way to equality | December 3, 2016

Adopted ten years ago by the United Nations, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities marked a major step forward in disability rights. However, people with disabilities still suffer serious and multiple discriminations. The International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 13 […]

Adopted ten years ago by the United Nations, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities marked a major step forward in disability rights. However, people with disabilities still suffer serious and multiple discriminations.

The International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 13 December 2006. In ten years, it has been ratified by 168 States and is now a recognised international standard. This is the first convention on the rights of people with disabilities to be legally binding on States. It sets out their obligations to promote the rights of people with disabilities as equal under the law.

People with disabilities must be recognised as people with full rights.

A sign of its success, an increasing number of States include provisions on the equality of people with disabilities in their constitutions. Sixty-three percent of constitutions adopted between 2010 and 2014 include such provisions, compared with 43% between 2000 and 2009. To mark the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, Handicap International is calling on States to meet their commitments under the Convention and to immediately implement measures to ensure all people with disabilities are included in society.

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities reaffirms human rights as universal and applicable to people with disabilities. People with disabilities must be recognised as people with full rights. There is growing recognition that society is responsible for obstacles to the inclusion of people with disabilities. By celebrating human diversity, the Convention is calling on societies to organise themselves differently so that, regardless of their abilities or inabilities, everyone is able to exercise their basic rights and freedoms.

Organisations representing people with disabilities are better organised and increasingly have a say in decisions affecting them: in Laos or Tunisia, the actions of these organisations have led to more inclusive policies and greater inclusion of people with disabilities in the political system in their countries. One of the priorities of the global disability rights movement is “Nothing about us without us”: no decision concerning people with disabilities should be taken without consulting them.

A long way to go

The Convention has raised the profile of people with disabilities in discussions on world development programmes: in September 2015, the United Nations Assembly adopted the Sustainable Development Goals, the first global programme to end poverty on this scale to take people with disabilities into account. However, the rights of people with disabilities are regularly infringed and health, education, transport and employment services are often inaccessible to them. Many are also victims of recurrent violence due to their disability and suffer restrictions on their family life, forced sterilisation, segregation, forced medication or restrictions on their legal capacity, and so on.

Some groups of people with disabilities remain more excluded than others, such as people with psychological disabilities or victims of multiple discrimination such as women with disabilities:

  • According to studies, women with disabilities are two to three times more likely to be victims of physical and sexual abuse than women who do not have disabilities.
  • 20 million people worldwide who need a wheelchair do not have access to one.

People with disabilities are always among the poorest members of the community. They are often excluded and there are strong links between disability and poverty. This situation is unacceptable and people with disabilities must be explicitly included in anti-poverty programmes.

  • Eighty percent of people with disabilities around the world live in low- and middle-income countries.
  • People with disabilities are largely ignored or inadequately taken into account in disasters. According to a 2015 Handicap International survey, 75% of disaster-affected people with disabilities do not have adequate access to humanitarian assistance.

The international community must support the disability movement to ensure its voice is heard and put forward concrete recommendations on their inclusion. To ensure States, funding bodies and NGOs more effectively take into account millions of people with disabilities affected by humanitarian disasters, Handicap International, with several partner organisations, launched the Charter on the Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities at the World Humanitarian Summit in May 2016. To date, the Charter has 138 signatories.

Read the Charter here.

 

 


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