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2005-09-19 11:22:10

UN Convention Focusing on people living with disabilities

The leaders of the global disability movement, themselves persons with disabilities, have been moving forward on negotiations and are seeing wider participation by developing countries, women with disabilities and advocates for persons with different kinds of disability. Leading disability organizations - such as Inclusion International, Disabled People International, the International Disability Coalition and the World Federation of the Deaf - continue to provide their expertise and insight.

One goal of the negotiations is to achieve a broad, flexible treaty that "does not end up time-locking this convention into how things are now," in the words of the representative of People with Disability Australia. The second half of the Convention deals with issues that affect the daily life of persons with disabilities. Draft articles would obligate States to eliminate discriminations against women and girls with disabilities. Laws and other measures would guarantee equal access and enjoyment of rights in all areas of life, as well as equal freedom, safety, autonomy, independence, respect and dignity, including through proactive measures and policies.

Specifically, it has been recommended that women and girls with disabilities, including those with cerebral palsy, should enjoy full access to programs and measures related to information, finances, family relations, education, training, health care, rehabilitation and employment; right to sexuality, motherhood, adoption, support during pregnancy and childbirth, and child care; freedom from abuse, violence, sexual exploitation, marginalization and forced medical and pharmaceutical experimentation; access to development and independent economic viability programs; and participation in decision-making, policymaking and self-representation.

Other articles deal with the right of persons with disabilities to quality education - a right still far from being achieved, with 40 million children with disabilities around the world not attending school. States are to ensure an inclusive education system, including vocational training and lifelong learning, directed to the full development of a student's personality, talents and abilities, potential and sense of dignity and self worth. No child with a disability should be excluded from primary or secondary education on account of disability.

And measures to ensure accessibility, including by eliminating architectural, sensorial and cultural obstacles, and to promote equal access to information and communication were discussed. Persons with disabilities should have access to services and facilities provided to the public, as well as mobility through access to mobility aids, devices and assistive technologies. National standards and guidelines should ensure accessibility of facilities and services and promote universal design; private companies that provide public facilities and services should take into account accessibility needs; and universally designed goods, services, equipment and facilities should be made available.

It is fair to say that the main theme of the convention is inclusiveness. This has come through in the discussions on all articles they have had. A final plan will be released later this year.

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