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Eighty-One Countries Sign New Global Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities

NEW YORK, 30 March 2007 – UNICEF has welcomed the signing of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities by 81 countries and the European Community as a major step toward protecting the rights of children with disabilities.

The Convention will now have to be ratified by the countries to become law. Jamaica is the first country to ratify it. 

The Disability Convention is the first treaty focusing exclusively on disability rights to be adopted by the General Assembly, giving status and authority to disability as a human rights issue. While there is no reliable data on the number of children with disabilities globally, estimates put their number at 150 million worldwide.

Children with disabilities are among the most stigmatized and excluded of all the world’s children.  Misunderstanding and fear of children with disabilities result in their marginalization within their family, community, at school, and in the wider society. The discrimination they suffer leads to poor health, affects their self-esteem, limits their access to education and puts them at higher risk for violence, abuse and neglect.

Two young disability advocates from Nicaragua and Armenia participated in the signing ceremony, highlighting the importance of giving children with disabilities a voice in policies and legislation that impact them.  Their presence reinforced the message that special attention to the situation of children with disabilities is needed in implementing the new Convention.

Countries that ratify the Treaty agree to enact laws and other measures to improve disability rights, and to abolish legislation and practices that discriminate against people with disabilities. 

The Convention was drafted with unprecedented participation of people with disabilities. True to the motto of the disability movement, “Nothing about us without us”, it was the participation and expertise of people with disabilities, including children, which was key to the successful adoption of the convention. 

UNICEF is increasingly working to promote the participation and inclusion of children and adolescents who are disabled. Examples of UNICEF’s work in this area include helping reduce the use of institutional care for children with disabilities; promoting inclusive education strategies; increasing attention to children with disabilities as part of larger efforts to strengthen social protection systems; and landmine victims assistance.

With its adoption and signing, the UN Disability Convention, in addition to the UN Convention on Rights of the Child, provides UNICEF a framework for the protection of the rights of children with disabilities. UNICEF will encourage its regional and country offices to promote the ratification of the Convention and to support its implementation.


For further information, please contact:
Geoffrey Keele 212-326-7583; email gkeele@unicef.org
Saira Khan 212-326-7224; email sskhan@unicef.org




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