03/07/2003

UN convention on disability welcomed

The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC) has welcomed the decision taken by a United Nations Ad Hoc Committee to proceed with a new policy of the rights of disabled people.

The NIHRC says the new convention will have profound implications for the rights of the 600 million disabled people throughout the world because it will give them the same protection in law as other non-disabled citizens.

The decision to draft a Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was taken at the end of the Committee meeting in New York, which ran from 16 to 27 June.

Welcoming the decision the Chief Commissioner of the Northern Ireland Commission, Professor Brice Dickson, said: “For the first time ever National Human Rights Institutions were permitted to play a role in the proceedings of an Ad Hoc Committee at the UN and will now be part of the Working Group which has been established to work on the draft Disability Rights Convention."

Kevin McLaughlin, a Commissioner with the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, added: “This was a unique occasion where I and other colleagues from National Human Rights Institutions had the chance to debate and offer our thoughts on what should be included in a draft Convention.

"However, not only did the United Nations permit organisations like ourselves to do this but organisations working directly for and on behalf of disabled people were able to do the same. This added a wholly different perspective to the proceedings and allowed for the voice of disabled people to be heard."

The Working Group will comprise 27 country representatives, 12 non-governmental organisations and one representative from National Human Rights Institutions.

It will meet twice to work on a paper which will be presented to the full Ad Hoc Committee in January 2004 for further deliberations.

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