Minister Conor Lenihan hails adoption of new Disability Convention

“Historic step in the international recognition of the human rights of persons with disabilities” - Lenihan

Conor Lenihan, T.D., Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs with Special Responsibility for Overseas Development and Human Rights, today warmly welcomed the adoption by the UN General Assembly of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. 

The Convention, which is the first human rights convention of the 21st century, gives explicit recognition to the human rights and dignity of persons with disabilities.

“This Convention represents a major step forward in the recognition of the human rights of persons with disabilities.  The international community has agreed an explicit statement that persons with disabilities are entitled to enjoy the same rights as others, without discrimination,” he said.  

“Ireland played a full and active role in the negotiations leading up the adoption of the treaty.  I would also like to pay tribute to the contribution of Irish NGOs and the Irish Human Rights Commission, who were also fully involved in the negotiations,” said the Minister. 

“The increase in expenditure on disability services by the Government is a clear signal of the Government’s full support for the aims and objectives of this Convention.  The agreement of this Convention is an important milestone on the road to the full enjoyment of human rights by all,” he concluded. 

Note for Editors

The UN General Assembly yesterday (13/12/06) adopted the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, in New York.  The Convention was negotiated by an Ad-Hoc Committee, which met in New York for 8 sessions over the period 2001 to 2006.  Ireland was represented at these negotiations by officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform and the Department of Health and Children as well as by representatives of persons with disabilities in Ireland. 

Representatives of a number of Irish NGOs and the Irish Human Rights Commission also played an active part in the negotiations, which were notable for the high level of participation by non-state actors. 

The new Convention did not set out to articulate new rights, but rather to guarantee to persons with disabilities that they would have equal access to established human rights. 

Following its adoption by the General Assembly, the Convention will be opened for signature and ratification by the States of the UN.  Upon ratification by 20 states, the Convention will then enter into force as the first new human rights convention of the twenty-first century. 

ENDS +++
14 December 2006
Press Office

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