United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon this week celebrated the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities as "a new dawn” in the fight to redress what he called “glaring inequalities”.
In a special ceremony at the UN General Assembly, he said: “We must counter discrimination and prejudice. We must deliver development that is truly for all.”
The commemoration was one of several events to mark the Convention's entry into force on 3 May. The Convention does not create new rights for the estimated 650 million people around the world with disabilities. Instead, it seeks to ensure that existing rights are fully extended and guaranteed. By ratifying the Convention, States commit themselves to enact laws and other measures to improve disability rights, and to abolish legislation, customs and practices that discriminate against persons with disabilities.
In a message delivered at the ceremony, Under-Secretary-General and UN-HABITAT Executive Director Anna Tibaijuka said: “I am proud to state that we are already moving to the implementation stage of the Convention by giving special attention to Persons with Disabilities in all our projects, particularly in slums and deprived urban neighbourhoods."
Mrs. Tibaijuka said UN-HABITAT "constantly finds itself reminding policymakers at every level of the need for proper access to public transport, for alternative access to buildings, for special seating in public places, and proper care benefits."
The President of the General Assembly, Mr. Srgjan Kerim said the international community had ignored the rights of disabled people for far too long.
“The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is a key measure of our civilization. The rights and opportunities that people with disabilities are able to enjoy reflect directly on our common humanity," Mr. Kerim said.