UN treaty reaches milestone

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This is a photograph of the flags of five countries with the United Nations symbol in the background.

The United Nations

Columbia is the 100th country to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

“This is an important milestone for Columbia and for the global community,” said UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in a United Nations news release. “The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is a powerful tool for inclusion and development. Let us use it to make concrete improvements in the lives of persons with disabilities.”

The treaty, which Columbia ratified May 10, requires signees to enact laws prohibiting discrimination against people with disabilities. Though she was excited about Columbia ratifying the treaty, UN High Commissions for Human Rights Navi Pillay warned that many countries are not following through on their obligations, noting that just 45 of the 100 countries have antidiscrimination laws protecting people with disabilities.

“Change might not happen overnight,” she said. “But the first steps must be taken today.”

Human Rights Watch has also released reports documenting widespread discrimination against people with disabilities in countries that have signed the treaty, including Croatia, Argentina and Uganda. Though Columbia has not yet enacted an antidiscrimination law, its Constitutional Court has recognized the Columbian government’s obligations to ensure the rights of people with disabilities.

Eighty-two countries signed the treaty when it was adopted in 2006. The United States ratified the treaty in 2009.

About 650 million people worldwide, or about 10 percent of the global population, live with a disability.