New UN Treaty to protect people with intellectual disabilities from discrimination and abuse

The United Nations adopted the eight international human rights Treaty in history. Five years of intensive work and negotiations at UN level have been necessary for the adoption of the international text. The new convention is based on existing human rights Treaties and their application to people with disability. Its aim is to guarantee an effective protection of disabled people and ensure that they can enjoy from the most basic human rights. The text prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities in all areas of life and addresses access to the full range of human rights: civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including through positive actions.

For European citizens with intellectual disability, the new convention will secure existing as well as it will bring some new rights. “Particularly important for the persons with intellectual disability, the right to live in the community and the right to inclusive education is recognized” highlights Diane Richler, President of Inclusion International, which participated in the debates. An excellent paragraph recognizing the role of the families has been included in the preamble.

While the historic moment was marked with words of praise and joy by the president of the General Assembly, the disability community felt the overall joy of the process was marred by the appearance of a footnote in the final draft in relation to the legal capacity. Unable to gain consensus on the proposed article for legal capacity, the chair suggested including a footnote that indicates that in Chinese, Russian and Arab languages legal capacity is understood to mean the capacity to have rights not the capacity to act. “This footnote may have the legal effect of denying full legal capacity to some people with disability” warned Diane Richler. A detailed legal analyses and review will be required to get a clear understanding of the impact and consequences of this footnote.

Together with the convention for the rights of the persons with disability, a draft Optional Protocol to the Convention has been prepared, which will be adopted in the same time with the Convention. This draft protocol suggested the creation of Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The Committee will be responsible for receiving and considering 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. The Committee shall suggest measures for overcoming these situations in cooperation and coordination with the concerned State Party. The Committee shall receive no communication if it concerns a State Party to the Convention that is not a party to the present Protocol.

There are more than 650 million persons with disability all over the world, and this Convention should start the marking of a new era and shall determine the future development of policies related to persons with disability in the European Community. Our next step is to lobby for effective implementation of the Convention in our country.

The Republic Center for Support of Persons with Intellectual Disability – PORAKA soon after the adoption of the Convention on the rights of persons with disability will publish it in limited number of copies, which shall be distributed also to the local branches. In this way the membership of the Republic Center – PORAKA shall be introduced to the provisions provided in the Convention on the rights of persons with disability.

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