THE UNITED NATIONS TREATY ON THE RIGHTS OF PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES
3 THE ADA Image: MetroWest Center for Independent Living Justin & Yoshiko Dart with Paul Spooner, MWCIL Executive Director at the National Council on Independent Living Rally at the United States Capitol on July 26, 2000.
4 A Short History of Justin Dart, Jr., Father of the ADA Center for Disability Rights By Stephanie Woodward, Transportation Systems Advocate http://www.cdrnys.org/wordpress/?p=503 Justin Dart, Jr., who is widely thought of as the father of the ADA, was born in 1930 to a very wealthy, prominent family. Growing up, Justin was very misbehaved, attending seven high schools, but never graduating. He later described himself as a super-loser, admitting that he didnt like himself. In 1948 Justin contracted polio and was given three days to live. It was at this point in his life that Justin changed directions. Justin felt loved and was given affection by those around him and liked the feeling. In turn, he began to treat people with respect and love. Although polio turned Justin into a wheelchair user, it did not kill him. He went on to receive his bachelors and masters degrees, then began to work in business. In Japan, Justin was the president of Tupperware Japan, where he hired women and people with disabilities to empower them. Justin was interested in more than money he wanted to create social change. Soon executives in the U.S. told Dart, according to Mouth Magazine, to stop promoting women to executive positions [and to] stop his disability campaign. Upon hearing these orders, Justin and his wife, Yoshiko, resigned.
5 After the ADA was signed into law, Justin explained why the ADA is so significant for disabled individuals across America: The ADA is a landmark commandment of fundamental human morality. It is the worlds first declaration of equality for people with disabilities by any nation. It will proclaim to America and to the world that people with disabilities are fully human; that paternalistic, discriminatory, segregationist attitudes are no longer acceptable; and that henceforth people with disabilities must be accorded the same personal respect and the same social and economic opportunities as other people. (eeoc.gov) Since the ADA was passed, individuals with disabilities have been able to improve their lives. The ADA is used daily to even the playing field for disabled people. Additionally, the ADA has been upheld and strengthened through lawsuits, such as the Olmstead case tried in the Supreme Court. With the ADA as support, individuals with disabilities can and will continue to take strides to improve their lives and their communities.
Senator Harkin worked very hard to pass the ADA and, on July 26, 1990, George H.W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act into law on the Whitehouse lawn. With Justin Dart on the stage beside him, the last words Bush spoke before signing the document into law were, let the shameful wall of exclusion finally come tumbling down.
Guiding Principles of the Convention There are eight guiding principles that underlie the Convention and each one of its specific articles: Respect for inherent dignity, individual autonomy including the freedom to make one's own choices, and independence of persons
8 Full and effective participation and inclusion in society Non-discrimination
Respect for difference and acceptance of persons with disabilities as part of human diversity and humanity
Respect for the evolving capacities of children with disabilities and respect for the right of children with disabilities to preserve their identities
14 Backgrounder: Disability Treaty Closes a Gap in Protecting Human Rights the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities entered into force on 3 May 2008, there has been no specific global treaty addressing the needs of persons with disabilities, the worlds largest minority. It was clear that without a legally binding treaty that spelled out their rights, persons with disabilities faced being legally invisible in their societies and even in the international arena.
The result has been that persons with disabilities continue to face major hurdles and discriminatory practices in their daily lives.
About 650 million people in the world – or about 10 per cent of the total world population – experience various forms of disabilities, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). All over the world, persons with disabilities continue to face barriers in their participation in society and lower standards of living. 16
17 The purpose of the Convention, as stated in Article 1, is to to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities, and to promote respect for their inherent dignity. The Convention marks a major shift in the way societies view persons with disabilities, with the person being the key decision-maker in his or her own life. It makes persons with disabilities rights holders and subjects of law, with full participation in formulating and implementing plans and policies affecting them. The Convention moves beyond the question of access to the physical environment, to broader issues of equality and elimination of legal and social barriers to participation, social opportunities, health, education, employment and personal development.
18 States that ratify the Convention are legally bound to treat persons with disabilities not just as victims or members of a minority, but as subjects of the law with clearly defined rights. They will have to adapt their domestic legislation to the international standards set forth in the treaty. The Convention promotes human rights standards and their application from a disability perspective, promoting equal citizenship after a long history of discrimination. The treaty views disability as a result of the interaction between an inaccessible environment and a person, rather than an inherent attribute of an individual. It replaces the old medical model of disability by a social and human rights model based on the fact that it is society that disables" persons with disabilities from exercising their human rights as citizens.
19 CRPD Update! Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid Makes CRPD Statement in Senate Record: Emphasizes the importance of moving the CRPD forward to ratification! As the Senate session closed on Thursday, August 2, Senator Reid made a point to state his support for the bipartisan effort to ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Senators Durbin (D-IL), McCain (R-AZ), Kerry (D-MA), Moran (R-KS), Coons (D-DE), Barrasso (R-WY), Harkin (D-IA), and Udall (D-NM) have all joined together to lead the support of the CRPD. In his statement, Senator Reid acknowledged this tremendous bipartisanship and the importance of ratifying the CRPD:
20 "This Convention is a another step towards ensuring that all people with a disability, in any country, are treated with dignity and given the right to achieve to their full potential... Just like passing the Americans with Disabilities Act, ratifying this Convention is, quite simply, the right thing to do." Senator Reid, Senate Majority Leader What's Next: As we enter into the August recess, our goal is clear: securing the votes in order to achieve a successful Senate floor vote in September. Please contact your senators' local offices to request a visit with the senator while they are back home in your state so you can ask them to pledge support. ask them to support CRPD. USICD and DREDF want to THANK YOU for your incredible work in getting the CRPD transmitted to the Senate, through a hearing process in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and voted successfully to the Senate floor in the span of less than three months! Many said this could not be done. But the strength and determination of the disability community is alive and we look forward to continuing to work with you in August to see that the CRPD is ratified in September!
22 What is the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities? The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is an international treaty that identifies the rights of persons with disabilities as well as the obligations on States parties to the Convention to promote, protect and ensure those rights. The Convention also establishes two implementation mechanisms: the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, established to monitor implementation, and the Conference of States Parties, established to consider matters regarding implementation. States negotiated the Convention with the participation of civil society organizations, national human rights institutions and inter-governmental organizations. The United Nations General Assembly adopted the Convention on 13 December 2006 and it was opened for signature on 30 March 2007. States that ratify the Convention are legally bound to respect the standards in the Convention. For other States, the Convention represents an international standard that they should endeavour to respect.
23 Why is it necessary to have a Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities? The Convention is necessary in order to have a clear reaffirmation that the rights of persons with disabilities are human rights and to strengthen respect for these rights. Although existing human rights conventions offer considerable potential to promote and protect the rights of persons with disabilities, it became clear that this potential was not being tapped. Indeed, persons with disabilities continued being denied their human rights and were kept on the margins of society in all parts of the world. This continued discrimination against persons with disabilities highlighted the need to adopt a legally binding instrument which set out the legal obligations on States to promote and protect the rights of persons with disabilities.
24 What are the obligations on States Parties to the Convention? The Convention identifies general and specific obligations on States parties in relation to the rights of persons with disabilities. In terms of general obligations, States have to: adopt legislation and administrative measures to promote the human rights of persons with disabilities; adopt legislative and other measures to abolish discrimination; protect and promote the rights of persons with disabilities in all policies and programmes; stop any practice that breaches the rights of persons with disabilities; ensure that the public sector respects the rights of persons with disabilities; ensure that the private sector and individuals respect the rights of persons with disabilities; undertake research and development of accessible goods, services and technology for persons with disabilities and encourage others to undertake such research; provide accessible information about assistive technology to persons with disabilities; promote training on the rights of the Convention to professionals and staff who work with persons with disabilities; consult with and involve persons with disabilities in developing and implementing legislation and policies and in decision-making processes that concern them.
25 How is the Convention monitored? The Convention requires monitoring at both the national and international level. Nationally, the Convention requires States, in accordance with their legal and administrative systems, to maintain, strengthen, designate or establish a framework to promote, protect and monitor implementation of the Convention. Internationally, the Convention establishes a Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities which has the role of reviewing periodic reports submitted by States on the steps they have taken to implement the Convention. The Committee also has authority to examine individual communications and conduct inquiries in relation to those States that have recognized the Committees authority to do so by ratifying the Optional Protocol.
26 What is the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities? The Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is a body of independent experts tasked with reviewing States implementation of the Convention. These experts will serve in their personal capacity. Initially, the Committee comprises twelve independent experts which will rise to 18 members after an additional 60 ratifications or accessions to the Convention. States parties will chose experts on the basis of their competence and experience in the field of human rights and disability, and also in consideration of equitable geographic representation, representation of different forms of civilization and legal systems, gender balance, and participation of experts with disabilities. The Committee periodically examines reports, prepared by States, on the steps they have taken to implement the Convention. For those States that are party to the Optional Protocol, the Committee also has authority to receive complaints from individuals of alleged breaches of their rights and to undertake inquiries in the event of grave or systematic violations of the Convention.