(Apr. 2, 2008) On May 3, 2008, the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities will come into effect, 30 days following ratification by Ecuador, the 20th country to sign the agreement. The Convention asserts the rights of the disabled to education, health, work, adequate living conditions, freedom of movement, freedom from exploitation, and equal recognition before the law. (Text of the Convention available from the U.N. Web site, at http://www.un.org/disabilities/convention/conventionfull.shtml; list of ratifications available at http://www.un.org/disabilities/default.asp?id=257 (both last visited Apr. 7, 2008).) The U.N. projects that the Convention will eventually be ratified by 70 nations and that its optional protocol, which grants individuals the right to petition a committee of experts for violations of the Convention after all national procedures have been exhausted and which has to date been ratified by 13 countries, will be accepted by 40.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon welcomed the ratifications of the treaty, saying that it will combat "dehumanizing practices" against the estimated 650 million people worldwide living with disabilities. (UN Disability Rights Treaty Entering into Force May 3, JURIST, Apr. 4, 2008, available at http://jurist.law.pitt.edu/jurist_search.php?q=un+disability+treaty.) Louise Arbour, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, stated, "I cannot stress enough the importance of this ground-breaking Convention, which fills an important gap in international human rights legislation affecting millions of people around the world." (Fruition of Groundbreaking Treaty on Disability Rights Hailed by UN Officials, UN NEWS, Apr. 4, 2008, [email protected])