Why the Convention Matters

This is an exciting time for disability rights advocates around the world. In December 2006 the United Nations adopted a new international human rights treaty, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). The CRPD affirms that people with disabilities have the same human rights as all other people, and embodies a revolution in the international conception of disability. Instead of approaching people with disabilities as “handicapped” and naturally excluded from mainstream culture, they are viewed as equal and capable of claiming their human rights.

The challenge now is to ensure that these rights on paper are converted to changes in our societies and our lives. The CRPD can catalyze societal change in the following ways:

Governments that sign and ratify the Convention will need to change laws and develop new legislation to protect the human rights of people with disabilities, enforce these laws, and raise public awareness about the rights of people with disabilities.

National Human Rights Institutions will need to promote and protect the human rights of people with disabilities.

Organizations of and for people with disabilities can use the CRPD as a powerful advocacy weapon; to raise awareness about disability human rights, pressure governments to develop legislation and provide resources to people with disabilities, and report human rights violations.

Private actors such as businesses have a legal obligation to comply with laws supportive of the human rights of people with disabilities, as well as a moral obligation to ensure that their operations promote rather than violate these rights.

Individuals with disabilities who, by understanding their human rights, can claim and defend them.

Global Disability Advocate now need to:

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