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Make a date


In a few weeks, the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has its first birthday, so get ready for hoopla. Break out the champagne and get down to the card shops to buy an anniversary card.T

he first human rights treaty of the twenty first century has been widely celebrated as a victory for the disability rights community, a recognition of the shared humanity of disabled and non-disabled people, and a legally binding document which will make a major difference to the lives of DWPs everywhere. It opened for signatures on 30 March 2007, and at the last count, 125 countries had signed up to its provisions. Everyone agrees that disabled people are amongst the poorest of the poor, and deserve a better deal. A bright shiny law which brings this woeful state of affairs to people's attention and demands action can only be a good thing, and I willingly applaud those who worked so tirelessly to achieve it.

However, this year also marks the sixtieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. That might raise a note of caution amongst all those who show such optimism about the impact of UN Conventions and other international statutes. The Universal Declaration guarantees us all a fair trial, freedom from torture, arbitrary arrest or detention, the right to an adequate standard of living and equal pay, amongst other worthy goals. But many of these rights are more notable for how they're breached rather than how they're observed - not least in America, land of the free and the host of the United Nations.T he UN Declaration was always a wish list rather than a piece of binding legislation, but don't look too closely at the more recent Conventions on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, or the Conventions outlawing Torture and Genocide, because you'll only get depressed at their lack of impact too.

After all, more than 50 of the world's nations - from Argentina to Zimbabwe - already have anti-discrimination legislation in place to protect the rights of disabled people, and the effectiveness of these specific national laws is, to say the least, mixed. Even the most widely celebrated and much emulated statute, the Americans with Disabilities Act, has had a varied impact. Certainly, disability access is much better in the USA than in most countries, but disabled Americans remain disproportionately poor and socially excluded. There's even an academic debate raging as to whether the ADA might actually have increased unemployment among disabled people, as the statistics seem to imply.

The English philosopher Jeremy Bentham declared that rights were "nonsense on stilts". I think he meant that it's all very well promising people the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, but that doesn't help them very much unless someone is prepared to do something about it. It's hard, though still possible, to protect negative rights - i.e. the right not to be enslaved - but it's almost impossible to guarantee positive rights - i.e. the right to employment or the right to have a family.Guaranteeing people formal equality or freedom sounds great, but what really improves quality of life is access to employment or, failing that, adequate welfare benefits or services. Human rights tends to focus on the individual, whereas it's more often structural and community solutions that are required.Passing disability civil rights statutes is relatively simple and looks nice. Doing something to improve the situation for disabled people is complicated, costly and difficult. So expect lots of the former and less of the latter in future.

Despite my scepticism, I do realise that the UN Convention will have a gradual impact. For those countries who have never imagined that disabled people might have rights, the UN Treaty will be a timely reminder and a guide to action. The requirement to report regularly on the progresss made in implementing disability rights may also have an effect. Symbolically, the new law further contributes to disability being understood as a political issue rather than a medical problem. That's all brilliant.

Yet I still can't help making an admittedly loose analogy with Mother's Day. Every year, on the first Sunday in March, we have a national day on which we buy a card for our mums (if we remember), and perhaps some flowers or chocolates too. That's nice, that's right, and so we should. But Mother's Day is never going to do much to make the world a better place to be a mother. Similarly, I suspect that the UN Convention is only a small part of the immense effort that is required to achieve a better outcome for disabled people. It's important to remember that no law can deliver everything we hope for.

The venerable English saying "fine words butter no parsnips" springs to mind. Happy anniversary. 

Tom Shakespeare, BBC OUCH MAGAZINE, No 224


14.03.2008

All news:

“Incredible stories of invisible lives” exhibition in Uzice
Draft of Law on Social Protection
30 years United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women
Opening Conference of the European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion,
The sky's the limit for disabled athletes in Serbia
CRPD Ratifications reach 76
Round table "Development the advocacy capacities of organisations of persons with disability in Serbia"
With Parthership Towards Development
FREE OUR PEOPLE NOW!
COMMEMORATING THE INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR THE ELIMINATION OF VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN
Center for Disease Control and Prevention, USA
Persons with disability in politic life everywhere
ENIL has 777 members in Facebook
Disability and policy
„Love and Kindness“ Fund
New ratifications
Women with disability
„A Midnight Summer Dream“
Court Cases filed in the Name of Persons with Disability
Freedom Drive 2009 - Demands
INFORMATION FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES ABOUT H1N1 VIRUS
My world has changed – two stories in one
European Citizen Award
Not just a pretty Facebook
First deaf Member of Parliament is sworn in
Letter to Prime Minister Cvetkovic
PA Service in Leskovac too
International Day of Persons with Disabilities - 3 December 2009
MIDWAY
New TV broadcast
Malta: MOTE - My Opinion My Vote
Access to persons with disability
„CLOSER TOGETHER“ PROJECT
SERBIA RATIFIED UN CONVENTION
Court case dealing with UN COnvention in Germany
Europe Day
Convention sign-ups
WHY SHOULD EUROPE INCREASE THE MATERNITY LEAVE?
Learning disability genes found
Poland: Disabled People Excluded from EU Elections
International Autism Day
Coucil for persons with disability
My right to be healthy
NEW RATIFICATION
International Day of Rare Diseases
PERSONAL ASSISTANCE BILLS
Disability Equality: Promoting Positive Attitudes
SERVICE IN JAGODINA
White House launched a new website today and disability issues are highlighted under the Agenda heading
Conference on Cooperation for Improvement of Disability Policy in Serbia
Workshhop on CRPD
First Committee of Experts on Disability Rights Convention Elected
GREAT SUPPORT TO ANTONIJEVIC FAMILY
Parking for everyone
Electoral rights for PWDs in Albania
Petition
The ways of integration
Finding a College That Suits Students “With Special Needs”
Another silver medal for Serbia
Paralympic silver
The Annual march for Disabled Visibility in Madrid
Good Practise/Bad Practice
UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)
Free our People!
All... but not retard.
European Day of Disabled People 2008
Parents' fury at 'Down's Syndrome dolls'
Eurobarometer on discrimination
Less sex, less fun
Coming Soon, a Braille Silver Dollar
Roads to integration
Disability proves no barrier to Olympic inclusion
Media and Disability
Media and disability
Bishop
Are there any changes in preparations for Paraolympics?
U.N Issues Stamps to Commemorate Disability Treaty
Beijing 'sorry' for offending disabled
Government unveils new package for disabled children
China Sets Gold Standard in Offending Disabled
Smederevo Coalition
Way to Independence
On Empowerment
Assistive Technologies
Press Conference
Wishes could come true
Seminar on reforms of social protection system
National Conference on Gender Equality
Mobility International Seeks Young Adults
Wal-Mart settles with applicant with disability [USA]
First Contestant with a Disability to Compete for Miss USA Title
INFO - CENTER
INACCESSIBILITY IS DISCRIMINATION!
UN Convention on PWDs rights
Conference on National strategy for Youth
Bits and pieces from Slovenija
Meeting with Bozidar Djelic
Focus group “Social services for PWDs“
SHARE SEE Grantee Training
Make a date
It's Okay to Stare... Then Engage a Question!
Sombor hosted workshop "sex, gender, disability"
Dancing Beyond Disability
Seminar HUMAN BEING AND ITS ENVIRONMENT
Project From Alternative to Standardisation
The regional group of experts in social service provision for people with disabilities
Youth Regional conference
Are we going to Europe?
Disability Guide to Disneyland Paris
POI Conference "From cause to the result: New approaches towards disability"
Open Letter to the Government, Members of National Assembly Competent Institutions and Policy Makers
Centre plan for disabled actors
An Autistic Dream
MEETING ON DISABILITY ISSUES IN SERBIA
A PARAGIDM SHIFT FROM 'CHARITY' TO 'RIGHTS AND DIGNITY'
Transport benefits
New Visa rules
Disabled rights champion honoured
Map of the World
Serbia is going to sign UN CRPD
WORKSHOP IN CAIRO
Seminar on Women with Disabilities
Adaptation of living environment for Persons with Disabilities
Program „Contact Organisations from the Civil Society”
Community Living for Disabled People Must Be Made a Priority
Celebrating 3rd December
Celebrating the 3rd December 2007
FILM FESTIVAL OBSERVING 3 DECEMBER
National Umbrella Organisation mark 3rd of December
ENDING OF SHARE SEE TRAINING PROGRAM
SHARE SEE IV MODULE – NISKA BANJA
IMPORTANT DAYS TO CELEBRATE
To Ministry of Labor and Social Policy
SHARE SEE training in Predejane
Recognising the Rights of Girls and Women with Disabilities
SHARE SEE IV MODULE IN SMEDEREVO
Creation the Local Plans of Actions in Disability Area
SHARE SEE IV MODULE – BELGRADE
TODAY IS THE DAY OF UN
Goodbye mouse hello voice controls
Elena Pecaric
Award
AWARENESS RISING
INTERNATIONAL DAY OF POVERTY REDUCTION
ADA RESTORATION ACTION CENTER
WHERE IS SERBIA
Disability Rights Treaty on Verge of Making History?
The Days of European Heritage in Belgrade, 20-30 of September
Council of Europe in Zagreb
Seoul Declaration
Virtual interpreter turns speech into sign language
Strasbourg Freedom Drive
UN Convention
Jagodina hosted the Third Table tennis tournament "Jagodina Trophy"
Hungary ratified UN Convention
Convention on Child Protection
UN convention on disability rights reaches milestone in signatories
IIIrd INTERNATIONAL SMILING CHILD FESTIVAL
Your dressing room on the Internet
Chosen home life a basic right for disabled people
SPORT RESULTS
What Can They Do?
III Module of trainings accomplished
SHARE SEE trainings
Project with young activists finished
Special EUROBAROMETER 263 “Discrimination in the European Union”
Seminar on Independent Living in Macedonia
It's Deaf Awareness Week 7-13 May
International Day of Families (15 May)
European Coalitions
Social services in South East Europe
Test on Autism
UN Headquarters, New York, NY
Presentation the UN Convention in Belgrade
Presentation of UN Convention on rights of persons with disabilities in Jagodina
SHARE SEE training in Belgrade
SHARE SEE training for Leskovac cluster
SHARE SEE Module II in Nis
The U.S. Embassy has a pleasure to invite you
SHARE SEE trainings Module II
I N T E R V I E W
GATEWAY
DYSGRAPHIA
UN Study of Violence Against Women Finds 50% of Disabled Women Experience Abuse
Launch of the Year of Equal Opportunities
Interesting events
Survey reveals social attitudes to disability
Homes that Meet Life’s Changing Needs
Awards for the best Campaign, PAs and users within the PASS project
Design for Everyone, Disabled or Not
STRATEGY
EDUCATION FOR MEMBERS OF POLITICAL PARTIES IN NOVI SAD ON BASIC FACTS ON DISABILITY ISSUES!
AWARDS COMPETITION
UN Convention adopted
Tribune on UN Convention in Novi Sad
Round table in Sarajevo
Evropean Union and Persons with Disabilities
Promotion of International Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities
PASS presentation in Bosnia and Herzegovina
International Day of Disabled Persons
World Congress on Disability
N. Korea puts disabled in camps
Universal Design
European Conference in St Petersburg
UN reward to Poland
SHARE SEE Training in Belgrade
Antidiscriminatory practice in Norway
SHARE SEE Training in Leskovac
UN Convention
DISABLED PEOPLE FROM SPANISH INDEPENDENT LIVING MOVEMENT HAVE CANCELLED THEIR LOCK IN
8th Session of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Rights and Dignity of Persons
UN AGREES ON DISABILITY TREATY TEXT
Geneva, 23 August 2006
SHARE SEE Training in Smederevo
SHARE SEE Training in Krusevac
UN Convention - 13 August 2006
Independent living hope
8th Conference of the European Union of Supported Employment
The implementation of Poverty Reduction Strategy goes on
Independent Living seminar in Tirana



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