Group for disabled to seek support for international treaty

Kyodo

Disabled Peoples’ International will hold a four-day world assembly here next week to canvass support for an international treaty to protect and promote the rights of the disabled.

About 3,000 disabled people from 108 countries and regions are expected to participate in the quadrennial event, which opens Tuesday at the Hokkaido Prefectural Sports Center.

According to U.N. data, one-tenth of the world’s population lives with some form of disability.

An international treaty has been proposed to the U.N. General Assembly in the past — by Italy in 1987 and by Sweden in 1989 — but many countries, including Japan, have opposed such a move, mainly on financial grounds.

Now, there are moves within the United Nations to take up the cause.

Acting on a proposal from Mexico, the host country of the previous assembly, the U.N. has set up an ad hoc committee to discuss proposals for a comprehensive international convention on the rights of the disabled.

Judy Heumann, World Bank adviser on disability and development, will give a keynote speech at the Sapporo gathering, and there will be panel meetings on numerous topics.