Australia's Human Rights Commissioner, Graeme Innes, has welcomed the introduction of the International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and urged the federal government to ratify the convention.
The Convention was ratified by 20 United Nations members on 3 April 2008, and came into force 30 days after that date.
"This is an important day for the 650 million people with disabilities throughout the world," Commissioner Innes said. "Around two-thirds of UN member states do not have any legal protection for people with disabilities, so this convention provides an international framework for such protection."
The convention sets out existing human rights as they apply specifically to people with disabilities. These include rights to non-discrimination in all areas of life, including employment, education, health services, transportation and access to justice.
Commissioner Innes lamented the fact that Australia has signed but thus far failed to ratify the Convention. "I encourage prompt ratification by the Australian Government, so that we can participate in the election of the treaty body, to take place in the next few months,” he said.
Ratification by Australia requires a National Interest Assessment to go before the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties. The assessment requires input from State and Territory governments and Commissioner Innes called on all parties to meet these obligations urgently. "As a world leader in disability laws and policy we have much to contribute to this process," he said.