EU-25 commits to the protection of disabled people's Human Rights through a new UN Convention
Brussels, 12 December 2006 – The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities represents a historical moment for the European disability movement. The innovative Convention, not only is the first official recognition of disability as a Human Rights issue, but also, it will be the first Human Rights Treaty to be signed by the European Communities as a legal entity, since the beginning of the European integration process.
All men and women shall enjoy from their most fundamental rights. Very often, this principle is far from daily reality. None of the EU-25 can claim that they are respectful of disabled people's Human Rights, a group facing discrimination and prejudice in all fields of life.
This is the first time that an international instrument of the kind covers both the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of people with disabilities, establishing an effective framework for the rights' protection of 650 million people in the world. The ratifying countries will now be legally obliged to treat people with disabilities as individuals with rights, clearly defined throughout the 50 articles of the Convention text, covering all fields of life.
The European Disability Forum (EDF), the representative organisation of 50 million disabled people in the European Union, has played the leading role in the negotiations and final approval of the Convention. Even more, the adoption process of the Treaty has constituted a newness in the UN negotiation procedures, as for the first time, disability NGOs from all over the world have represented a driving force towards the final adoption of the text.
"I am very proud and satisfied with tomorrow's adoption of the Convention. I am proud of EDF's leading role in the whole process, representing the interests of all European with disabilities at an international level and raising their visibility. I am also extremely satisfied because for the first time, disability is officially recognised at world level and by the European Union as a Human Rights issue and this recognition will become part of EU's acquis communautaire", declared today the President of the European Disability Forum, Yannis Vardakastanis.
The Convention's signature and ratification process
On 30 March 2007, the Convention will be open in for the signature and ratification of the 192 UN-Member States. The Convention needs to be ratified by at least 20 countries to enter into force. As a signatory entity, the European Communities will also be scrutinised regarding the implementation of the rights of persons with disabilities in the EU-25. Moreover, it commits to the adoption of the necessary measures and legislation to effectively protect these rights.
The European Commission shall submit a proposal to the Council of the European Union, early 2007, in order to establish the signature and ratification procedure to be adopted by the European Communities. The decision will be taken by unanimity.
EDF is confident that the EU Member States will sign the Convention jointly, in accordance with the common strategy adopted by the European Union during the whole negotiation process. EDF calls on the European Communities and the Member States to concurrently sign the 18 articles of the optional protocol of the Convention about individual (or group) complaints and State enquiries.
For the European Disability Forum, this major success shall be reinforced by the development of stronger disability legislation in the European Union at all levels. So far, only a European directive protects disabled people from discrimination in the field of employment.
"Disability has generally been considered by the European Union as a non priority issue, despite the systematic violation of disabled people's rights in all Member States. From now on, there is no doubt that the EU-25 has the legitimate role and the moral obligation to actively protect the Human Rights of all European with disabilities, until discrimination will totally disappear in Europe", stressed Vardakastanis.
The text of the Convention can be downloaded from: http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/enable/
For more information, please contact: Carlotta Besozzi, EDF Director; Tel office: (+ 32) 478 55 93 84; E-mail: email@example.com