On June 9, 2011, the World Health Organization, in conjunction with the World Bank, released the first ever World Report on Disability. CEC participated in the U.S. Launch and Symposium for the World Report on Disability this week. This report estimates that about 1 billion people, or 15% of the world population, live with some kind of disability. Approximately 200 million of these people or 2-3% experience significant difficulties in functioning. These numbers are increased from the 1970 estimate that 10% of the population lived with a disability, a fact the report attributes to aging populations and increased instances of chronic illnesses.
The report examines the status of disability populations – diverse experiences throughout the world, growing numbers and vulnerable populations – before delving into barriers and inequalities faced by people with disabilities and how to address them. These barriers to health care, education, employment and transportation, are exacerbated in disadvantaged communities throughout the world and as such this report has put together scientific data, statistics and recommendations for ameliorating the living conditions of people with disabilities throughout all States. The recommendations will serve as a resource for policy-makers, service providers, professionals, and advocates for people with disabilities and their families. These recommendations focus on providing people with disabilities access to mainstream services and opportunities and adopting national strategic plans for providing services and accessibility to persons with disabilities.
The report is an important tie-in for the U.N. Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), which was adopted by the U.N. on December 13, 2006 and opened for signatures on March 30, 2007. According to the United Nations Enable, there were 82 signatories to the Convention, 44 signatories to the Optional Protocol, and one ratification of the Convention. The CRPD received the most signatures of any human rights convention previously and though it didn’t create any new human rights, it provides important clarifications and will serve as an instrument for the extension of human rights to all people, regardless of disability.
The U.S. signed the CRPD on July 30, 2009 and is currently examining it for compatibility with our own amendments and initiatives for people with disabilities such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Once the compatibility has been established, the CRPD can be ratified with a 67-vote supermajority in the Senate. Only once the U.S. has ratified the treaty can they sit on the committee in the United Nations which will allow them to assist other countries in achieving similar legislative success.
CEC will use the Report in its work to benefit U.S. domestic and international policy, practice, advocacy and research. CEC continues its advocacy for the U.S. ratification of the CRPD. This report will assist with the implementation of the treaty.