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UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities Takes Giant Step Forward

Friday, September 22, 2006

NCD #06-522
September 22, 2006 

WASHINGTON–National Council on Disability (NCD) chairperson John R. Vaughn today released the following statement regarding the United Nations International Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities.

NCD commends the UN delegates, non-governmental representatives, and civil society for the hard work invested in drafting the historic agreement reached on a new treaty on the rights of people with disabilities around the world. This momentous occasion marks the end of a five-year long negotiation process that was unprecedented in its inclusion of non-governmental organizations made up of people with disabilities.

NCD has played an active role in providing technical assistance throughout the convention negotiation process. At the outset of negotiations, NCD published a document titled

Understanding the Role of an International Convention on the Human Rights of People with Disabilities andA Reference Tool: Understanding the Potential Content and Structure of an International Convention on the Human Rights of People with Disabilities as well as an outreach tool explaining the process An International Disability and Human Rights Convention: What you Need to Know about International Human Rights Law and Efforts to Gain Equality and Justice for People with Disabilities in the US and Abroad. Midway through the negotiation process, we published UN Disability Convention - Topics at a Glance: History of the Process to continue to inform the disability community about the work being done. NCD also produced updates on the current status of the treaty negotiations, following each Ad Hoc Committee meeting.

At the 6th Ad Hoc Committee meeting, NCD held a side-event, at which we released several topical papers on the US experience to provide technical assistance in the drafting of specific articles. The topical papers addressed health; transportation; independent living and living in the community; employment; education; political and public life; and information technology. All are available at: /newsroom/publications/2005/alltheseries.htm. At the August, 2006 8th Ad Hoc Committee meeting, NCD held another side-event to begin discussions on the practical aspects of implementation of the Convention. NCD plans to release a summary of these discussions soon, which will be available at

The draft text of the Convention now resides with the Drafting Committee, which is being chaired by Liechtenstein. It then will be passed to the UN General Assembly, with a possibility of the Third Committee (the Third Committee is the General Assembly’s arm on social and human rights treaties) reviewing it before the full General Assembly votes on its adoption late this year. If the treaty is adopted, it will then be open for signature and ratification. If twenty (20) countries sign and ratify, the treaty will enter into force. At that point, other countries wishing to become party to the convention must “accede,” meaning that they must sign and ratify at the same time. If a country signs the treaty at the outset of its adoption by the General Assembly, the country is considered to be a signatory, and the country is then allowed to take more time to decide whether it wants to ratify and become a “States Party.” If the country signs, but then decides not to ratify, it is still a signatory or the country can “unsign” if they have no intention of ever ratifying.

NCD encourages the careful finalization and expeditious adoption by the General Assembly of the first convention of this magnitude in this century that will further the human rights of millions of people with disabilities around the world, along with their families and the communities in which they live and work.

An official website of the National Council on Disability