DAA News Network

September 2009 Editorial : Taking the UN Convention to the streets.

Posted 01/9-09 at 21.39

How many ordinary disabled people know about the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities? Even if they've heard about it, how many people know what it means to them in their day-to-day lives?

For the most part, it is the leaders of the disability movement who have been in the forefront pushing for the Convention. Consequently, most of the action over the last years has taken place around conference tables or select e-mail groups.

Well, we now have the Convention. It marks a great victory for all disabled people. It is time to take it from the conference table to the streets. It's time to let people know what human rights can really mean. They need to be able taste them, to feel them against their skin, to breathe them in.

Unless we can increase understanding and mobilise popular support among disabled people, the Convention, like many such documents, will become trapped on paper and do little to improve the lives of disabled people.

It must be remembered, that as wonderful as it is to have, the Convention itself gives disabled people nothing. Like all human rights conventions, to make them real they have to be used by activists. This can be done by lobbying governments who have signed and ratified the Convention and/or by using it to raise awareness among disabled people about their rights.

Spreading the word about the Convention also gives us the opportunity to work together and build an international movement that connects grassroots disabled people throughout the world. One way of doing this is to share our experiences of using the Convention.

One such example is given below, from colleagues in Nepal. They will be working to make sure that the right human rights set out in the Convention are built into the new Nepalese Constitution.

Another example was highlighted in our September 2008 newsletter. A regional disability organisation in the UK focused their annual street campaign (http://bit.ly/2Ouki8) around showing people how the Convention related to the struggles they faced in their daily lives. See below.

DAA would like to know about similar campaigns using the Convention.

Let's share ideas and experience. Working together internationally is the surest way to realise the promise of the Convention and begin to see some real progress for disabled people.

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