"There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things."

~ Niccolo Machiavelli, historian and writer

Thursday, April 17, 2008

UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities To Come Into Force

The following excerpts are from the April 16, 2008, NSACL newsletter:
On Thursday April 3, 2008, the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities received its 20th ratification! The Convention will come in to force 30 days following the 20th ratification (May 3, 2008).

Canada has still not ratified the Convention but we are hopeful that this momentum will encourage them to take action. The Canadian Association for Community Living continues to be in touch with the Government of Canada on this issue and will provide updated information as it is received.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has welcomed the entry into force of the first international treaty on the human rights of persons with disabilities, after the required twentieth country ratified “It is a historic moment in our quest for realization of the universal human rights for ALL persons, creating a fully inclusive society for all,” Mr. Ban’s spokesperson Marie Okabe said in a statement celebrating the rapid progress of the Convention on the rights of Persons with Disabilities which was adopted in December 2006.

“The Convention will be a powerful tool to eradicate the obstacle faced by persons with disabilities,” she said, pointing to discrimination, segregation from society, economic marginalization, and lack of opportunities for participation in social, political and economic decision-making processes. Today’s ratification by Ecuador means that the Convention, along with an optional protocol that will allow individuals and groups to petition for relief, will be legally binding as of 3 May. Tunisia and Jordan also ratified the treaty earlier this week.
From my point of view, the real question is "Why Not"?

Why hasn't Canada ratified the Convention?

Do we have a particularly good reason? Or any reason at all?

Is it just not considered politically expedient at this time?


Is it even on the federal government's radar screen?

As I've noted before, the Convention is not binding on any country that has not ratified it. Ratifying the Convention means that the Minister of Foreign Affairs signs an "instrument of ratifiication" which certifies that the government of Canada ratifies the Convention. This "instrument" will then be deposited with the UN.

Although, once the Convention is ratified, the federal government will be obligated to bring its legislation in line with the Convention, this will not bind the provincial governments. Each provincial government is free to make its own decision in that regard. And, unfortunately many of the laws that affect the daily lives of people with disabilities are provincial laws.

However, first things first. It's time to contact Minister Bernier and request demand that Canada ratify the Convention.

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