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International Convention on Persons with Disabilities and Jordan's Obligations

2014-08-17

His Royal Highness, Prince Mired bin Ra’ad

 

The UN General Assembly adopted the International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in December 2006. It was ratified by member States on 3 May 2008. According to Article (45), the enforcement of the Convention starts on the thirtieth day following the date of the deposit of the twentieth deed of endorsement or acceding to the Convention.

 

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is a human rights treaty, but it differs in substance from other conventions. In the preamble it states that the concept of disability is still developing and that disability occurs because of the interaction between persons with disabilities and the environmental, physical, behavioral and informational barriers that prevent their full and effective participation in society on a basis of equality with others. It also recognizes the universality of all human rights and basic freedoms: these are indivisible, interconnected and interdependent. It is important that persons with disabilities enjoy these rights fully and without discrimination to realize the purpose of Article (1) of this Convention. These goals are to promote, protect and guarantee that all persons with disabilities enjoy these human rights fully, on a basis of equality with others and to enhance a sense of rooted dignity in them. Therefore, this Convention adopts the social model of participation, empowerment, equality and non-discrimination

 

The Convention also contains a set of fundamental principles in Article (3), the most important of which is the principle of non-discrimination. This is the basic principle on which the Convention is based: it includes all the provisions contained therein and acts as its cornerstone. The Convention highlights certain cases in which persons with disabilities must enjoy special protection, such as situations of danger and humanitarian emergencies cited in Article (11). This is in addition to protection from exploitation, violence and abuse contained in Article (16) and the right to privacy and litigation. The Convention enumerates a group of articles on civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, in addition to articles on women and children with disabilities.

 

Article (33) of the Convention concerns its implementation and monitoring at the national level. States are obliged to apply the provisions of the Convention by appointing one or more coordinating bodies within the government to implement the provisions. In terms of monitoring, the State must form, strengthen, designate or establish a framework for the promotion and protection of this Convention and to monitor its implementation through human rights organizations specifically since they have real expertise in the field of human rights. Civil society institutions, persons with disabilities and their representative organizations must participate in the monitoring process.

 

Jordan was one of the first countries that acceded to the International Convention, signed it on 30/3/2007 and ratified it on 31/3/2008. In this way, the State declared its commitment to implement the provisions of this Convention in order to achieve its goal and purpose of protecting the rights of persons with disabilities and ensuring their full enjoyment of human rights and basic freedoms. These were published in the Official Gazette to become an integral part of national legislation. These general commitments were set forth in Article (4) of the Convention, and the endorsement comes with a set of obligations at the international and national levels.

 

At the international level:

 

Under the provisions of Article (35) of the Convention, Jordan is obliged to submit a comprehensive report to the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities two years after the ratification of the Convention, every four years thereafter and whenever the Committee requests it. This report is on the country’s commitments regarding the implementation of the provisions of the Convention. The first government report on the “Status of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the Kingdom for the Period 2007-2011” was submitted to the International Monitoring Committee concerned with the follow-up on the implementation of the provisions of the International Convention.

 

At the national level:

 

At the request of His Majesty King Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein, a National Strategy for Persons with Disabilities (2007-2015) was developed with the active participation of persons with disabilities and all concerned parties. The Law on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities No. (31) of 2007 was issued. Under the provisions of Article (6) of the Law on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the Higher Council for the Affairs of Persons with Disabilities was established as a national institution for the support of persons with disabilities and for the defense of their interests. It is also in charge of drawing policies, planning and coordinating with all parties, raising awareness, educating people about the rights of persons with disabilities, removing obstacles and physical barriers to achieve full participation in society. Additionally, it conducts studies and research on disability, such as providing a database, as well as raising awareness and training on the rights of persons with disabilities through training workers and specialists in the field of disability.

 

Developed countries have many experiences in the area of ​​compliance with the provisions of the International Convention. The best example is the Kingdom of Sweden that can be taken as a role model in this field. There are a number of laws based on the rights methodology in which the State assumes its responsibilities by enabling, qualifying and developing the potentials of persons with disabilities. This is in addition to providing education and accessibility. The Swedish law has classified disabilities, identified them and designated competent departments that implement these legal provisions. Sweden also adopted a strategy to implement policies on the rights of persons with disabilities for the period 2011-2016, including a set of important axes based on specific objectives. The following examples are not exhaustive: the right to education, work, the legal system, transportation and other axes.

 

Conclusion: Despite the achievements made at the national level, we still face some challenges in the implementation of the International Convention, including:

 

1. the legislative aspect: developing and enforcing national legislation in line with international standards

2. Awareness:

- Raising awareness of the rights of persons with disabilities

- The role of the media in changing the image and negative outlook towards people with disabilities

3. The financial aspect and policies: putting disability on the national priorities list of all concerned parties and providing the necessary financial resources to implement the provisions of the Convention

4. The technical aspect:

- Building the capacity of disability workers in all sectors

- Empowering persons with disabilities and their organizations in all fields

5. The environmental aspect: removing environmental, physical, informational and behavioral barriers and obstacles to provide an accessible environment for people with disabilities

 

* President of the Higher Council for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities