UNICEF Salutes Armenia’s Accession to New UN Treaty on Persons with Disabilities
YEREVAN, 6 April 2007 – UNICEF today hailed the Government of Armenia for its signing of a new United Nations treaty, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, that protects and promotes the rights of the estimated 650 million persons in the world with disabilities. While there is no reliable data on the number of children with disabilities globally, estimates put their number at 150 million worldwide.
There are problems that are common to all people with disabilities independently of their age and gender. Those problems include accessibility of public buildings and public facilities. "Unfortunately, many schools, hospitals and policlinics are not equipped with ramps and other facilities that would help a person with disability, be it a child or and elderly woman, to enter buildings easily, "Sheldon Yett said.
The Convention lays a solid basis for further strengthening and improvement of domestic legislations and development of effective implementation mechanisms.
"Our country has made tangible progress in ensuring that the rights of persons with disabilities are respected and that the environment conducive to their full integration into the society is created," Minister of Labor and Social Issues Aghvan Vardanyan said, emphasizing that it is much more important to focus attention on implementation of existing laws, rather than develop new ones.
The Ministry and UNICEF have been working closely to address problems of people with disabilities, particularly those faced by children with disabilities through improving services, assisting in mainstreaming children with disabilities into inclusive schools and raising public awareness to promote their full integration into the society.
"Yet the new Convention sets new standards for us, and the Government, NGOs and international organizations will have to work hard to ensure that the provisions of the Convention are translated into real action, adequate financial resources are allocated from the state budget and human resources are provided to meet needs of the persons with disabilities," the Minister said.
It is important to involve persons with disabilities, including children and young people,in discussions of policies that affect their lives, a young advocate for the rights of children with disabilities. Ani Hovhannisyan, 18, who participated in the Convention signing ceremony at the UN General Assembly stressed.
"We are often referred to as "invisible" people, but it is not true. As young journalist who develops stories for the "Sunflower" magazine published by "Bridge of Hope" NGO in Armenia I am trying to make voices of my peers heard, because I believe that we can be the real agents of change," Ani said.
Pointing out to concerns of children and young people with disabilities related to education and employment, Ani voiced hope that the new Convention will create broader opportunities for persons with disabilities to exercise their right to quality education, services and access to other services.
For more information, please contact
Emil Sahakyan, Communications Officer, UNICEF Armenia
Tel.: (374 10) 52 35 46, 58 01 74
Fax.: (374 10) 54 38 10