Civil Society Hearing on progress made in the EU on the rights of persons with disabilities
15 September 2016
The United Nations Day on 24 October is designated as an international United Nations Observance Day and marks the anniversary of the United Nations (UN) Charter coming into force in 1945 and thereby founding the UN as an organisation. This new global institution emerged after the shadow of the Second World War and aims "to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small" (UN Charter).
A resolution from the General Assembly in 1947 proclaimed the UN Day to "making known to the peoples of the world the aims and achievements of the United Nations and to gaining their support for the work of the United Nations".
So far the UN has adopted nine core human rights treaties, among them the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). Since it entered into force in 2008 it has been signed by over 150 State Parties and ratified by 90. Furthermore, the European Union, as a regional integration organisation, ratified it in December 2010. The UNCRPD is a large step towards equality for Deaf and disabled people and EUD applaud the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) and the numerous individual experts who helped tremendously in shaping the UNCRPD to take into account the needs of Deaf sign language users.
With the entering into force a Committee was established to monitor the implementation by examining State Reports and conducting constructive dialogues with DPOs and other relevant NGOs, as well as the responsible government parties.
The UNCRPD Committee conducts most its session in a public manner that can be attended by NGO representatives, such as EUD or WFD, or other interested individuals. On behalf of WFD, EUD attended both sessions in Geneva in 2012 (April and September). The session in April was fully inaccessible and sign language interpreters had to be provided by EUD. Accessibility was improved in the session in September but is still not at the standard that can be expected at UN level.
Although EUD very much welcomes the election of Dr László Gábor Lovászy as a Hard of Hearing member of the Committee, who will undoubtedly have a positive impact on the accessibility of the sessions, we urge the UN to provide for sign language interpretation as well as captioning not only when the need arises for a Committee member. Public sessions must be fully accessible for all citizens wishing to follow the activities of the Committee, regardless of the disability or reasonable accommodations required.
EUD will continue to attend all public sessions to ensure that Deaf sign language users can fully benefit from the input that the Committee, DPOs, and government parties can provide. Information like this is essential to local and national Deaf Associations wishing to support their governments in the implementation process and in their compiling alternative/shadow report.
The full UN Charter can be accessed here.
The full UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities can be viewed here.
More information on the UNCRPD Committee can be found here.
The full list of core international Human Rights instruments can be accessed here.
Download the PDF version of the article here.
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