Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

MSIF actively promoted and encouraged people and organisations to join the global campaign for the ratification of the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (the Convention) and the Optional Protocol by governments around the world.

The Convention was adopted by the United Nations' General Assembly in December 2006.

When a government signs the Convention it indicates general support for the principles expressed in it and signifies a government’s intention to become legally bound by it. However, governments can sign the Convention without being required to take any domestic action.

Once it has signed the Convention a government can choose to ratify it and become a “state-party” to the Convention.

A UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities will be established to monitor implementation of the Convention and the Optional Protocol by governments. The Optional Protocol, which exists alongside the Convention, allows for the UN Committee to “receive and consider communications from or on behalf of individuals or groups of individuals subject to its jurisdiction who claim to be victims of a violation by that State Party of the provisions of the Convention”. In other words, individuals and groups will have the right to petition the UN Committee once they have exhausted all avenues within their own country.

The UN has dedicated a special web page to the Convention and its Protocol: convention in full.

Background
The purpose of the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (the Convention) is to:

Promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities, and to promote respect for their inherent dignity. (www.un.org/disabilities/convention)

The Convention defines ‘persons with disabilities’ as those with long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.

The Convention has the potential to have a major impact on the lives of people with disabilities, including many people with MS, around the world. The Convention will also reinforce the importance of the Principles to Promote the Quality of Life of People with MS (QoL Principles) published by MSIF in 2005. Like the QoL Principles, the Convention reaches far beyond medical care to a broad range of other domains.

However, unlike the QoL Principles, the Convention will become legally binding, providing a framework for the development of policy and legislation and legal back-up for key elements of the QoL Principles.

The Articles expressed in summary in the present Convention are listed as:

• Respect for inherent dignity, individual autonomy including the freedom to make one’s own choices, and independence of persons;
• Non-discrimination;
• Full and effective participation and inclusion in society;
• Respect for difference and acceptance of persons with disabilities as part of human diversity and humanity;
• Equality of opportunity;
• Accessibility;
• Equality between men and women;
• Respect for the evolving capacities of children with disabilities and respect for the right of children with disabilities to preserve their identities.

The full text of the Convention and its Optional Protocol (which can be found at www.un.org/esa/socdev/enable/rights/convtexte) contains detailed ‘Articles’, imposing certain duties on state parties, for example in relation to women with disabilities, accessibility, equal recognition before the law, support for living in the community, support for the family, rights to employment, providing accessible information, undertaking or promoting research and development of universally designed goods, services, equipment and facilities for people with disabilities.