The UN steps up to the plate to promote the rights of people with disabilities

by Anna
(The Special Life)

The reputation of the United Nations has taken a beat of a beating of late, but hopefully here's one initiative that people can rally around.

At long last, the positive force of bureaucracy is working its slow magic in the development of a proposed "International Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities".

It's quite the mouthful, but I for one think that it will make a difference.

At its best, the United Nations manages to set a standard that reflects the best of what we humans strive for. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1948, and still stands to this day as a beacon for civilized society. It starts off by recognizing that "the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world".

And, for estimated 650 million people with disabilities worldwide, it is exactly the concept of "inherent dignity" that is key to having their place in the world respected and understood.

Now, this very week, there are youths with disabilities from around the world that are convening in the UN headquarters in New York to help make an international treaty come to life.

"If we can create the political and legal mechanisms that will allow these barriers to come down we can create the possibility for people to contribute their real talents, their real capabilities, their real visions and their real skill to making our world a better place", says Vincent Pineda. He was born in Venezuela and has muscular dystrophy, but now lives in the US and uses his talents as a filmmaker to promote understanding of people with disabiities, including creating a documentary on the creation of this UN convention.

Can a treaty really make a difference?

Of course it can. Just think of this. While wars everywhere throughout our history continue to cause chaos and destruction, it is almost always a treaty that brings an end to the violence. As the saying goes, the pen really is mightier than the sword.

Expectations for this treaty are high. In a press release issued by the Chairman of the Ad Hoc committee, Ambassador Don MacKay of New Zealand said that he expected the final text to be completed by August 25th, and should predicate a "major shift" in how people with disabilities are treated. Happily, the intent is not just to produce a 'motherhood' statement of intent. In fact, it is likely to be quite robust, dealing with "a number of key areas, including accessibility, personal mobility, health, education, employment and non-discrimination."

If the UN continues to meet its schedule, the new convention should be adopted by the General Assembly later this year, hopefullly in time for the International Day of Disabled Persons, on December 3rd.

There is a lot of good activity supporting this initiative internationally. Be sure to do your part too. For more information on this initiative, click on the link at the end of this article.

Perhaps this is an issue whose time has come.

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