The International Day of Persons With Disabilities is a good time to remember that 2008 has been an important year for international human rights, as much for persons with disabilities as for everybody. The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol came into force on 3 May 2008 and the International Community has been celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).
The 2008 theme of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities is “Dignity and justice for all of us”. The legally binding Convention and its Optional Protocol are important instruments to make this theme a reality. These instruments, among others, help to build the international human rights framework which reaffirms that human rights are universal, indivisible, interrelated, interdependent and mutually reinforcing. They are there for everybody.
Around 10% of the world’s population live with disabilities – that means about 650 million people. These people face a lot of barriers to their participation in civil, cultural, economic, political and social life. In many countries they are denied basic rights like equal recognition before the law and legal capacity, right to vote or freedom of expression and opinion.
A strong link between disability and poverty is obvious, since 80% of persons with disabilities live in poor countries where, according to UNESCO, 90% of children with disabilities do not attend schools. It is equally true that in the more economically developed countries, people with disabilities suffer economic disadvantage.
David Jones, IFSW’s President, says: “IFSW is celebrating the International Day of Persons with Disabilities by restating our strong commitment to human rights and by recognising the right of people with disabilities to be full partners in organising their services. We support the slogan ‘nothing about us without us’. It is also appropriate to honour social workers around the world working with persons with disabilities. They often play a key role in promoting the rights of persons with disabilities while working on a daily basis with them. But we also recognise that social workers sometimes restrict human rights and limit opportunities for people with disabilities. The profession should celebrate this day by committing ourselves again to continue to work for the principles of ‘dignity and justice for all’ and particularly for equal rights for people with disabilities. We must make a reality of inclusion and partnership. This day is also an opportunity for the profession to be proud of our leading contribution to implementation of the social model of disability and our successes in supporting the participation of persons with disabilities in all areas of civil society,” David N Jones concluded.