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Written statement / submitted by Inclusion International

UN Document Symbol E/CN.4/2001/NGO/39
Convention Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
Document Type Statement by Non-Governmental Organization
Session 57th
Type Document

3 p.

Subjects Persons with Disabilities, Persons with Mental Disabilities

Extracted Text

Economic and Social
18 January 2001
Original: ENGLISH
Fifty-seventh session
Item 14(d) of the provisional agenda
Written statement*/ submitted by Inclusion International,
a non-governmental organization in special consultative status
The Secretary-General has received the following written statement which is circulated
in accordance with Economic and Social Council resolution 1996/31.
[12 January 2001]
*/ This written statement is issued, unedited, as received from the submitting nongovernmental
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Inclusion International, which represents some 200 associations in 115 countries, acts as
watchdog for the protection of the human rights of 60 million persons with intellectual
disabilities and the hundreds of millions of family members who share their lives, to be found in
every nation throughout the world.
Inclusion International is one of the largest grass-roots networks of families, friends, selfadvocates
and professionals, all devoted to combating discrimination, abuse and neglect of these
For 40 years this non-governmental organization has developed initiatives in order to reach its
goals :
- Inclusion of people with intellectual disability in all aspects of society;
- Full citizenship which respects individual rights and responsibilities;
- Self-determination in order to have control over the decisions affecting one’s life;
- Family support through adapted services and self-help networks.
In past years, significant progress has been made in improving the living conditions of people
with disabilities:
- Since they were introduced in 1993, the United Nations Standard Rules on the
Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities have played a major role in
making disability issues more visible;
- A number of governments have introduced legislation and policies based on the
Standard Rules, and others are on the eve of formalizing policies in order to create
sustainable change.
The special condition of people with intellectual disabilities is slowly being acknowledged. This
Commission in particular has emphasized the need to respect the human rights of persons with
developmental and psychiatric disabilities in Resolutions 1998/31 and 2000/51.
Thus Inclusion International is fully aware of the advances made. Nevertheless, such signs of
progress must not only be pursued and developed, but actively defended.
- Almost a decade has passed since the link between disability and human rights was
clearly outlined by the Special Rapporteur of the Sub-Commission , Mr. Leandro
Despouy, in his study. But little has come of his work despite the concrete
recommendations for action expressed in paragraphs 271-284.
- In practice, people with disabilities continue to be marginalized. People with intellectual
disability, in particular, are the most likely of all to be incarcerated in inhumane
institutions. They are commonly deprived of an education, refused ordinary social
relationships, blocked from meaningful and gainful employment, reduced to irrevocable
poverty… their civil and political rights are frequently abused, as are their physical
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These problems are not limited to developing countries. They may be found in every
nation of the world, and have been acknowledged by Mrs Mary Robinson, United
Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
- Disability issues are losing visibility. NGOs observe with dismay a growing tendency in
international reports to refer to people with disabilities within the poorly defined
framework of “other vulnerable groups and individuals,” as if they were splinter groups
(whereas they represent a significant proportion of the world’s population.
Despite the obvious and laudable wish to avoid stigmatization, such a broad and vague
category puts the rights and needs of people with disabilities at the back of peoples’
minds. They appear little more than an afterthought.
People with intellectual disabilities are especially at risk since, unnamed, they and their
families tend to be totally forgotten.
United Nations human rights organs have failed to agree on an international treaty to promote
and protect the rights of people with disabilities, despite the fact that specific and relevant
treaties already exist for other vulnerable groups such as women, children, migrant workers,
minorities and refugees, all of whom have legitimacy as specific items on this Commission’s
Inclusion International encourages the appointment by this Commission of a human rights expert
with knowledge of disability, to conduct the examination of measures to strengthen the
protection and monitoring of human rights of persons with disabilities.
However, Inclusion International would like to suggest that it might be appropriate for the
Commission to acknowledge the existence of people with disabilities as a specific group and the
need for greater respect of their Human rights, by introducing their cause as a permanent and
explicit item of constant concern and attention on the agenda.