MSIF actively promoted and encouraged people and organisations to join
the global campaign for the ratification of the United Nations
(UN) Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (the
Convention) and the Optional Protocol by governments around the world.
The Convention was adopted by the United Nations' General Assembly in
December 2006 and opened for signing at the UN headquarters in New York
on 30 March 2007. An unprecedented 82 countries signed the Convention,
44 signed the Optional Protocol and one (Jamaica) ratified the
When a government signs the Convention it indicates
general support for the principles expressed in it and signifies a
government’s intention to become legally bound by it. However,
governments can sign the Convention without being required to take any
Once it has signed the Convention a government
can choose to ratify it and become a “state-party” to the Convention.
The Convention will come into force once 20 countries have ratified it.
At this point all states-parties to the Convention will be bound by its
articles and must conform to its articles under international law.
UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities will be
established to monitor implementation of the Convention and the Optional
Protocol by governments. The Optional Protocol, which exists alongside
the Convention, allows for the UN Committee to “receive and consider
communications from or on behalf of individuals or groups of individuals
subject to its jurisdiction who claim to be victims of a violation by
that State Party of the provisions of the Convention”. In other words,
individuals and groups will have the right to petition the UN Committee
once they have exhausted all avenues within their own country.
The UN has dedicated a special web page to the Convention and its Protocol: convention in full.
The purpose of the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (the Convention) is to:
protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and
fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities, and to promote
respect for their inherent dignity. (www.un.org/disabilities/convention)
Convention defines ‘persons with disabilities’ as those with long-term
physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in
interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective
participation in society on an equal basis with others.
Convention has the potential to have a major impact on the lives of
people with disabilities, including many people with MS, around the
world. The Convention will also reinforce the importance of the Principles to Promote the Quality of Life of People with MS (QoL Principles) published by MSIF in 2005. Like the QoL
Principles, the Convention reaches far beyond medical care to a broad
range of other domains.
However, unlike the QoL Principles, the
Convention will become legally binding, providing a framework for the
development of policy and legislation and legal back-up for key elements
of the QoL Principles.
The Articles expressed in summary in the present Convention are listed as:
Respect for inherent dignity, individual autonomy including the freedom
to make one’s own choices, and independence of persons;
• Full and effective participation and inclusion in society;
• Respect for difference and acceptance of persons with disabilities as part of human diversity and humanity;
• Equality of opportunity;
• Equality between men and women;
Respect for the evolving capacities of children with disabilities and
respect for the right of children with disabilities to preserve their
The full text of the Convention and its Optional Protocol (which can be found at www.un.org/esa/socdev/enable/rights/convtexte)
contains detailed ‘Articles’, imposing certain duties on state parties,
for example in relation to women with disabilities, accessibility,
equal recognition before the law, support for living in the community,
support for the family, rights to employment, providing accessible
information, undertaking or promoting research and development of
universally designed goods, services, equipment and facilities for
people with disabilities.