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The Rights of Disabled People

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Congress Urged to Ratify Disability Rights Treaty

Disability rights leaders will gather in the Capitol on Tuesday, June 3, 2008 to launch their campaign to persuade Congress to ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

“The Convention is the first treaty to offer the promise of equality and self-determination to people with disabilities,” said, Executive Director of RatifyNow, which organized the event.

“More than two-thirds of nations in the United Nations have either signed or ratified the treaty, but despite our country’s pioneering role in outlawing discrimination on the basis of disability, the U.S. has yet to embrace the Convention,” said Magar.

The event will take place on Tuesday, June 3, 2008 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Room HC-7 of the Capitol building.  Speakers include the Honorable, former U.S. Attorney General and Under-Secretary General of the United Nations.

The first human rights treaty of the twenty-first century, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was adopted by the United Nations on December 13, 2006.  It became legally binding on May 3, 2008.

When broadly implemented, the U.N. expects the Convention to benefit the lives of one-quarter of humanity:  650 million people with disabilities and their families.

“In every nation, including our own, people with disabilities are the poorest of the poor,” said, a disability rights attorney who founded RatifyNow last year with Magar.  “Seventy percent of Americans with disabilities who want to work are unemployed, despite studies that show that employees with disabilities have better retention rates than their non-disabled peers.  This treaty can help us change these statistics.”

By ratifying the treaty, the U.S. would agree to set up an independent monitoring body to identify ways to combat stigma and level the playing field for Americans with disabilities in the classroom, the workplace, and in other venues that will benefit from full participation by people with disabilities.

RatifyNow supports grassroots efforts to persuade nations to ratify and implement the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Advocates Celebrate International Disabled Persons Day by Launching Treaty Ratification Campaign

Disability rights advocates are marking December 3, 2007 – International Disabled Persons Day – by launching RatifyNow, a global campaign based in the U.S. to maximize the number of nations that ratify the new Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  RatifyNow is a unique blend of grassroots activists, disability civil rights organizations, and human rights groups who work in tandem to make sure the Convention’s safeguards benefit people with disabilities worldwide.

The twenty-first century’s first human rights treaty was adopted by the United Nations a year ago and opened for ratification on March 30, 2007. To date, 118 nations have indicated support of the treaty and interest in ratification.  Seven nations have ratified (Croatia, Cuba, Gabon, Hungary, India, Jamaica, and Panama).  The treaty becomes legally binding 30 days after the 20th nation ratifies it.

“This treaty will dramatically improve the lives of people with disabilities – but only if we achieve broad worldwide participation,” said San Francisco disability rights attorney.  “RatifyNow is asking enlightened people everywhere to join in persuading their governments to ratify this treaty.”

“Ninety percent of children with disabilities in developing countries receive no education.  In far too many nations, people with disabilities lack basic rights, such as the right to own property, marry, work, and retain custody of their children,” said Magar.  “Because disability discrimination also affects families of individuals with disabilities, the United Nations estimates that this treaty, if broadly implemented, will improve the lives of one quarter of the world’s population.”

“RatifyNow will provide information and support to the disability community, government officials, journalists, and advocates interested in learning more about the treaty, and why it’s so important for nations to ratify it,” said Washington, D.C. disability rights attorney.  “RatifyNow’s website will serve as a clearinghouse for information about treaty ratification campaigns, and will provide ratification toolkits and strategies advocates can adapt for use in their own countries.  We’ll also provide links to information and tools developed by other advocates, as well as relevant studies and reports written by university professors and investigative journalists.”

“President Bush’s failure to sign and promote the treaty has had a significant impact on people with disabilities.” said Rosen.  “But we’re already working to make sure the next president signs the treaty within the first year of the new administration, and that the Senate ratifies it shortly thereafter.”

“We have had good success in starting to get local governments in the U.S. to adopt resolutions endorsing the Convention,” said Portland, Oregon disability rights advocate Pam VanderVeer.  “We expect RatifyNow to be a resource disability advocates can use to push their government representatives to support treaty ratification.”

“We’re hoping to work closely with journalists, because the first step is letting the world know this treaty exists,” said Magar.  “It’s a story that deserves broad dissemination, because this treaty guarantees people with disabilities access to education, and the rights to marry, enter into contracts, own property, work, vote, receive information in accessible formats, live in integrated communities instead of institutions, participate fully in cultural and civil life, and be free from discrimination on the basis of disability.”

RatifyNow welcomes both individuals and organizations as members, and it costs nothing to join.  Organizational members include:  the American Association of Persons with Disabilities, the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, Mental Disability Rights International, the National Council on Independent Living, the National Organization on Disability, People Who, Respectful Interfaces, TheUnderRepresented, Mental Disability Rights International, and the United States International Council on Disability.

Although RatifyNow was begun in the United States, membership is open to individuals and organizations worldwide.