CCD Calls for UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities

January 31, 2003

Following a resolution in 2001 by the Government of Mexico, the UN General Assembly in Resolution 56/88 called for the establishment of an Ad Hoc Committee to determine whether or not there was a need for a separate Convention to protect the human rights of persons with disabilities. The 2002 Ad Hoc Committee meeting agreed that the UN should proceed with the development of a Convention. In December 2002, the UN accepted the Ad Hoc Committee's recommendation. On 25-26 January 2003, CCD National Council of Representatives adopted unanimously the following motion on the Convention:

Whereas there are hundreds of millions of men, women and children with disabilities world wide, touching the lives of everyone on the planet;

Whereas, as a population, people with disabilities are often the lowest priority of governments and societies and excluded from the political instruments that make decisions on their behalf;

Whereas the lack of access to transportation, education, buildings and economic opportunities as well as forced institutionalization create societal segregation of people with disabilities in all nations;

Whereas no society can legitimately claim to be free and democratic when the members of any group are systematically denied equality and respect of their human rights;

Whereas people with disabilities in every country experience civil, political, economic, social and cultural discrimination, in breach of the global values expressed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; and

Whereas there is an overwhelming need for the development of a specialized international human rights convention for people with disabilities:

Be it resolved that CCD:

  • Endorse the DPI Sapporo Declaration and join the countless other organizations of persons with disabilities around the world in calling for the development of a specialized international human rights convention for people with disabilities which enshrines the full range of human rights issues specific to this global population;
  • Call for active participation by all States in the development of this convention; Call for a commitment to international, regional and national partnerships between the organizations of persons with disabilities and States to ensure that the drafting of the convention is accomplished with the full participation of people with disabilities, including participation on official state delegations to future Ad Hoc and Regional meetings;
  • Call for special attention to the inclusion of the most marginalized groups in the convention process;
  • Call for a global effort to ensure that existing international law and policies are fully implemented with respect to people with disabilities;
  • Call for hearings on the Convention by the Sub-Committee on the Status of Persons with Disabilities of the House of Commons' Standing Committee on Human Resources Development;
  • Call for the inclusion of people with disabilities from the disability rights movement in the official Canadian delegation that will participate in regional and Ad Hoc Committee meetings.
Sapporo Declaration, October 2002

In 1981 at the 1st World Congress in Singapore, disabled people recognized that we must unite and we must fight for our rights. Today in 2002 we are united, and we stand together as never before. We have national assemblies in some 135 countries in every continent of the world. We are ready to fight for our rights!

In Sapporo, our largest gathering yet, more than 3,000 people from some 109 countries have heard presentations and debated issues, we recognize that much has been achieved since our inception in 1981; we also recognize that much remains to be achieved. According to the United Nations statistics, there are 600 million disabled people worldwide, 82% live in developing countries. Unlike other citizens of their societies, disabled people live in the most deplorable conditions, isolated and excluded from their communities by barriers of policy, environment and attitude. For this reason, we fight against wars, poverty and the eradication of all forms of discrimination especially against disabled persons.

Disabled persons are unquestionably the largest and most discriminated minority group in the world, whose human rights are systematically violated. These violations against the poorest of the poor result in worsening living conditions, degrading in human treatment, lack of adequate housing, healthcare, education, employment, social inclusion and, often face death. Our rights under existing UN conventions are generally ignored or marginalized in monitoring procedures.


We demand a specific international human rights convention that is reflective of the full range of civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights and that includes a strong convention-monitoring mechanism informed by the unique perspective of people with disabilities to ensure the credibility, legitimacy and efficacy of the convention;

Disabled people demand a voice of our own in the development of this instrument. We must be consulted at all levels on all matters that concern us;

We request the UN Secretary-General to continue to provide facilities necessary for the development of an International Human Rights Convention for disabled people and to reallocate resources to support the work of the United Nations Program on Disabilities;

We urge all UN member states to support the formulation and adoption of this convention and to establish a Voluntary Fund to support the participation of disabled people, in particular from developing countries.

We encourage all disabled people and their organizations to educate the public and their political representatives on the need and benefits of a convention.

We demand that every country adopt and implement anti-discrimination legislation and policies that ensures the equalization of opportunity for disabled people.