Campaigners hail UN convention on disabilities as step to better lives

Disability rights campaigners say  new United Nations convention, the first to be agreed this century, could have a major impact on the lives of disabled people in the UK.

The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was approved last week, after five years of negotiations. It will now go before the UN’s General Assembly for adoption at its next session, which begins in September.

Tara Flood, director of the Alliance for Inclusive Education, said there was a “huge responsibility” on the disabled people’s movement to ensure the convention was successful and influenced UK policy.

Flood, who attended the final UN meetings last week, said the convention was “fantastic” news for disabled people across the world.

She particularly wel-comed the convention’s article 24, which says disabled people should have equal access to education. She
also praised the convention for using the social model definition of disability rather than the medical model.

Simone Aspis, spokesperson for the British Council of Disabled People, said countries should use the convention to “create standards for treating disabled people with dignity”.

She added: “At the moment, disabled people don’t enjoy the full rights they ought to have.”

The convention does not create new rights but outlaws discrimination against disabled people in all areas of life.

Countries that sign up to the convention must guarantee that disabled people “enjoy their inherent right to life on an equal basis with others”.

The convention also states that disabled children must not be separated from their parents against their will, expect when authorities determine it is in a child’s best interests.

The UN said that in a “perfect world” the rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights would be enough to protect everyone but, in practice, certain groups, including disabled people, fared far worse than others.

About one in 10 of the world’s population, or 650 million people, are disabled, according to the World Health Organisation.

Key proposals
● Article 10 – disabled people should enjoy their inherent right to life on an equal basis with others.
● Article 19 – disabled people must have the choice to live independently, to choose where and with whom to live.
● Article 23 – disabled children should have equal rights.

Additional reading
● Convention from

Contact the author 

More from Community Care

Comments are closed.