The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) has entered into force on May 3rd 2008, becoming the first human rights treaty of the 21st century, and insuring the rights of persons with disabilities (PWDs) who represent 10% of the global population. Of all the UN conventions, CRPD has been taken as an issue of priority, which shows the necessity and significance of protecting the rights of PWDs.
Today with a global number of 650 millions PWDs which represents 10% of world’s population, and over 1.4 million PWDs in Taiwan, CRPD’s entry into force regards all PWD’s rights and welfare. Even more, it guarantees the highest protection of PWD’s human rights. Therefore, we formally announce: “Yes, we PWDs finally have our own human rights convention!”
CRPD is unique for advancing, protecting and implementing the human rights of PWDs in all aspects; in particular, it transformed the traditional angle of PWDs issue from social welfare to human rights. CRPD reminds us not to see PWDs in a view of self-abasement and sympathy, but with human equality.
In fifty articles, CRPD includes almost every aspect of PWDs’ basic rights: health, education, family, accessible environment, work and employment, social affaires, politics, cultural life, athletics participation, dignity preservation, privacy protection, freedom of communication, statistics and information accumulation, international cooperation, national implementation and monitoring … etc., which aims to protect PWDs’ fundamental rights, express the necessity of equality for all PWDs and provide required assistances.
Meanwhile, PWDs represent 4% of the national population in Taiwan, their unemployment rate triples that of the general public. PWDs’ financial recourses come mainly from national allowance and subsequently from their family support; nevertheless, their average family expenses are usually more than $50,000 NTD per month. Moreover, averagely PWDs physical condition start aging at 50 years old, fifteen to twenty years earlier than persons without disabilities; and only half population of PWDs are married. These members from dysfunctional family have high risk not only in their family finance but also in their marriage. However, unfriendly environment, community protestation and social discrimination exist continually in Taiwan, and the delayed “Proclamation of the People With Disabilities” all indicate that our government should emphasis more for the rights of PWDs.
Furthermore, after three years’ of advocacy, the Protection Act for Rights and Interests of (Physically and Mentally) Disabled Citizens was announced on July 11th 2007, its mission statement proclaim that “This Act serves to protect the legal rights and interests of the disabled, secure their equal opportunity to participate in social, political, economical, and cultural activities fairly, while contributing to their independence and development”, which correspond to the spirit of CRPD. Nonetheless, the act has not yet fully been put into effect in Taiwan.
Therefore, The League of Welfare Organizations for the Disabled, R.O.C. and Eden Social Welfare Foundation appeal together for helping dysfunctional family to rehabilitate their normal functions. Furthermore, we appeal for “Connecting with the world, advancing in PWDs’ human rights” by advocating barrier-free spirit, environment and employment opportunity for PWDs, which include:
1. Barrier-free spirit, insuring PWDs’ rights on equal opportunity and free will in receiving medical care, education and community life.
2. Barrier-free communication, provide accessible environment, information, and instant assistance …etc. which allow PWDs to have an independent life and participate in society.
3. Barrier-free in employment opportunity, appealing for PWDs’ rights on working, receiving further education and occupational rehabilitation, which assure their rights on receiving equal working opportunity, having secure work environment, maintaining and improving their working abilities.
We celebrate the entry into force of UN Disability Rights Convention that has already been signed by 128 countries to date. Despite the fact that Taiwan is not a UN member could be able to sign the Convention, we are willing to take our responsibility in following the international value on advocating PWDs’ rights. We sincerely hope that our new elected President Ma Ying-jeou and his administration will advocate and implement actively the rights of PWDs in Taiwan and by doing so improve Taiwan’s international visibility.
Tung-Ru J. Shieh, Secretary General,
The League of Welfare Organizations For The Disabled, R.O.C.
Joa-Song Hwang(黃琢嵩), CEO,
Eden Social Welfare Foundation
The First Binding Human Rights Treaty of the 21st Century
128 countries have signed, 25 states have ratified
In the year of 2001, Mexican proposal in the UN General Assembly urged UN to consider proposals for a comprehensive and integral international convention to promote and protect the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities. In 2006, the draft Convention and a separate Optional Protocol finalized negotiations on its eighth session. On March 30th 2007, the Convention and Optional Protocol opened for signature, in just over one year since it was open for signature Convention and Optional Protocol received its 20th ratification on 3 April 2008, and triggered the entry into force 30 days later. To date, 25 states have ratified the treaty and 15 states have ratified the Protocol, so both the Convention and the Optional Protocol will be binding international law for its States Parties. 128 countries have signed the Convention, and 71 have signed the Optional Protocol.
The CRPD prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities in all areas of life, and includes specific provisions related to rehabilitation, habilitation, education, employment, health and access to information, public facilities and services. The Optional Protocol relates to how individuals or groups can seek redress for violations of the CRPD once national remedies are exhausted.
International Organizations’ respond with enthusiasm
With the Convention and Optional Protocol’s entry into force, international organizations around the world respond with enthusiasm, and the CRPD quickly becomes the main topic in almost every assembly and conference of these organizations. For example, one of the organizations that Eden Social Welfare Foundation participates actively, Rehabilitation International (RI) involves enthusiastically in the development of CRPD from the very beginning. Furthermore, as the Secretariat for the International Disability Alliance (IDA), RI also helps to plan the May 12, 2008 celebration with the UN Secretariat for the Convention. On the other hand, International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), of which Eden Social Welfare Foundation is its unique member in Taiwan, also announced on May 2nd in responding CRPD’s entry into force that, of the 24 States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty that have identified themselves as having the most pressing needs in terms of victim assistance, only four have so far ratified the Convention. Therefore, ICBL urges all countries to join the Convention and start adopting national legislation to put it into practice as soon as possible to insuring the rights of landmine victims. Also, as the international community prepares to meet in Dublin from 19 May 2008 to negotiate a new treaty to ban cluster munitions, the ICBL expressed the hope that the principles of equality and inclusion enshrined in the Disability Rights Convention will be fully reflected in the new treaty.
Press release from International Community: UN Enable, Rehabilitation International (RI), and International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL)
Lotus Chen, International Affairs Center, Eden Social Welfare Foundation