Today the United Nations celebrates the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, as well as the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:
Dignity and justice for all persons are established universal principles. Since its inception, the United Nations has recognized that the inherent dignity and the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family are the foundations of freedom, justice and peace in the world. These principles, along with equality and non-discrimination, have guided the work of the United Nations for the past 60 years and are enshrined in various instruments such as the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as in treaties such as the International Covenants on Human Rights, and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. These instruments are among those which make up the international human rights framework, are complementary and reaffirm that all human rights are universal, indivisible, interrelated, interdependent and mutually reinforcing.
2008 is a significant year in the international human rights movement given the entry into force on 3 May of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol, legally binding instruments which set out the legal obligations of States to promote and protect the rights of persons with disabilities, as well as the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Article 25 of the UDHR provides that each person has “the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age, or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control”. Several articles in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities expound on this right to security, including article 10 on right to life and article 14 on liberty and security of person. Article 28 is more specific in that it asks that States Parties take steps to safeguard and promote that realization of the right to an adequate standard of living and social protection, including ensuring “access by persons with disabilities and their families living in situations of poverty to assistance from the State with disability-related expenses, including adequate training, counselling, financial assistance and respite care”. These instruments mark a clear reaffirmation that persons with disabilities have the right to full and equal enjoyment of their human rights. They also mark a clear reaffirmation of the principles of ‘dignity and justice for all of us’. Read more