EWL News

EDF welcomes EU ratification of UN disability convention

The EWL and its member organisation the European Disability Forum (EDF) celebrate a landmark victory in human rights battle as EU signs UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

[EDF Press Release - Brussels, 5 January 2011] The European Union has officially ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on 23 December, becoming the first intergovernmental group to sign on to any human rights treaty. The European disability movement worked hard to make sure the EU concluded the Convention by the end of 2010. The European Disability Forum welcomes this development, which is a significant landmark and will help improve the lives of 80 million persons with disabilities in Europe.

The disability movement welcomes the historic ratification

This represents a major policy shift toward enforcing human rights for all Europeans and putting disability at the top of the human rights agenda.

Yannis Vardakastanis, President of the European Disability Forum, stressed: “The European Union has not only achieved a major step in its history, but it is also sending a positive signal to its Member States that haven’t ratified the Convention yet: it is now time to commit to the rights of persons with disabilities.”

In the European Union, more than 80 million persons have a disability, representing 15% of the residents from 27 countries. 11 of the 27 Member States still have to ratify the treaty.

The disability movement acknowledges the key role of the Belgian Presidency that committed to concluding the ratification of the UN Convention and succeeded in doing so.

The next steps to ensure the success of the implementation

First, the UN Convention asserts that every state party of the Convention has to establish a focal point for the coordination of implementation. At European level, a concrete action that human rights activists call for as a next step is the designation of the office of the European Commission’s Secretary General to make sure disability is mainstreamed everywhere. The European disability movement calls on the incoming Hungarian Presidency to actively work towards the implementation in the first months of 2011. This necessary step will improve the lives of millions of European citizens with disabilities.

Secondly, the European disability movement is stressing the importance of the involvement of the civil society organisations in the implementation of the treaty.

How does it bind the Members States and the EU?

All the institutions of the European Union will now have to endorse the values of the Convention in all policies under their competence, ensuring mainstreaming of disability: from transport to employment and from information and communication technologies to development cooperation. It also means that they have to adjust the accessibility of their own buildings, their own employment and communications policy.

For more information, contact EDF:
Aurélien Daydé | media officer| M +32 485 64 39 93 | aurelien.dayde@gmail.com

Find all background information on the EDF website.

Read the European Commission Press Release.

The European Disability Forum is the European umbrella organisation representing the interests of 80 million persons with disabilities in Europe. The mission of EDF is to ensure disabled people full access to fundamental and human rights through their active involvement in policy development and implementation in Europe. EDF is a member of the Social Platform and works closely to the European institutions, the Council of Europe and the United Nations.

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