Not Neglecting Human Rights for Disabled Persons

By Meg Burd
January 28, 2005

A special committee has been called at the United Nations this week to discuss the protection of rights of a group of people who are often overlooked. While often marginalized and sadly forgotten in the larger discussions of human rights, the more than 600 million people with disabilities worldwide must no longer find their basic rights pushed to the side or ignored any more.

"We must attend to the needs of a segment of the world population which, in spite of disability, gives us a lesson for living and overcoming adversities," Ambassador Luis Gallegos Chiriboga of Ecuador told the U.N. at a recent session, and he is right.

For those of us challenging countries around the world and here at home to ensure basic human rights, we must no longer neglect or forget persons with disabilities in our call for proper treatment and dignity for all people.

Worldwide, persons with disabilities of all sorts face not only a variety of everyday challenges, but also the horrific challenge of living in places in which their basic human rights are often not protected or else blatantly violated by laws and practices.

Indeed, looking around the world (and even here at home) at some of the atrocious and discriminatory laws proves why a stronger emphasis on ensuring the rights for the disabled is needed so desperately.

The National Council on Disability, in a paper published for a conference i