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Statement to mark the 10th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

It is time to move from law to practice in the implementation of the rights of persons with disabilities

GENEVA (13 December 2016) – A United Nations human rights expert has urged States to redouble their efforts to end the marginalization of persons with disabilities, in a statement marking the anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Catalina Devandas Aguilar, the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities, said much work remained to be tackled, 10 years after the Convention was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 13 December 2006:

“Global estimates suggest that there are almost one billion persons with disabilities and at least 93 million children with disabilities in the world - 15 per cent of the population, but the number could be much higher. They are a hugely diverse group of all ages, sex, races, languages and religions. They have different national, ethnic, indigenous, social and gender identities. Some are migrants, refugees and internally displaced people.

The Convention protects all persons with disabilities regardless of their type of impairments, including autistic persons, persons with psychosocial and intellectual disabilities, and persons with albinism. It has set the course towards the universal recognition of all their rights, and with them, towards their full and effective inclusion in society.

Having a Convention which was ratified by 170 countries is a remarkable achievement. Thanks to the Convention, many countries across the world have adopted new laws, strategies and policies related to the rights of persons with disabilities, in the last 10 years. The Convention has also woven disability issues into almost all international processes, including the new Sustainable Development Goals.

However, now it is vital to translate the Convention into significant improvements and tangible changes in persons with disabilities’ lives. Although international and national legal frameworks have advanced, change will not be achieved without strong political commitment and financial support from States and the international community. 

The advancement in the implementation of the Convention has been slow and has not reached all persons across the disability community, leaving millions of people still in deprivation. States, from the most developed to the least developed, require more progress on increasing community-based services to prevent the marginalization and isolation of persons with disabilities from the community and supporting them to fully exercise the freedom of making their own decisions and regain control over their own lives.

States need to move away from segregation in institutions towards support and assistance which is provided in the community. United Nations entities and other international partners need to collaborate more actively with States through technical assistance to ensure they are investing in inclusion, not exclusion.

This Convention is the result of a participative and collective process in which governments, representative organizations of persons with disabilities, and the United Nations system joined efforts and commitments. This approach, unprecedented in the international system, is a clear demonstration of the power of participation. The implementation of the Convention requires an active engagement with communities and persons with disabilities.

The UN Special Procedures mandate holders are determined to continue helping Governments understand and implement the Convention for the benefit of all.”

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Ms. Devandas Aguilar’s statement has been endorsed by:

- Independent Expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism, Ms. Ikponwosa Ero 
- Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, Mr. Dainius Pūras
- Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, Ms. Maud de Boer-Buquicchio