Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has been ratified
By Akmal Saidov, First Vice-Speaker of the Legislative Chamber of the Parliament of the Republic of Uzbekistan, Director of the National Centre of the Republic of Uzbekistan for Human Rights
The President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev addressed the global community during his speech at the 75th session of the UN General Assembly with several vital initiatives that can make the lives of every human being much better. These initiatives, that ranged in their scope from local to international, have been widely endorsed by the global community and are finding their place among implemented undertakings of UN.
Universal endorsement of the initiatives put forward can be perceived as confirmation of the right direction Uzbekistan has been moving under the leadership of the Head of state and the advanced role that the country is taking up in the international arena.
National law as a blueprint for international convention
First, challenges were turned into opportunities to grow and advance when 60 countries decided to co-author a UN Resolution to declare the Aral Sea region a zone of ecological innovations and technologies after the idea was initiated by the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan at the plenary session of the 75th session of the UN General Assembly on May 18, 2021. The Resolution was adopted unanimously.
Second, the Senate of the Oliy Majlis on May 29 discussed and approved the draft Law of the Republic of Uzbekistan “On ratification of the International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (New York, 13 December, 2006)” prepared by the National Centre of the Republic of Uzbekistan for Human Rights.
This was stated by President Shavkat Mirziyoyev in his speech at the 46th session of the UN Human Rights Council on February 22, 2021. It is no coincidence that the Head of our state, addressing the international community with a proposal to establish a Regional Council regarding the self-realization of persons with disabilities, noted that Uzbekistan pays great attention to ensuring the rights of people with special needs.
Legislative initiative of the President: consistency and efficiency
The Government of the Republic of Uzbekistan signed the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on February 27, 2009. At that time, our country expressed confidence in the future ratification of the Convention. Unfortunately, however, the issue of ratification, which is necessary for the successful implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has dragged on.
In this sense, it is noteworthy that in recent years, practical work in this area has intensified. The issue of accession of the Republic of Uzbekistan to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is contained in the following policy documents of the Head of State:
firstly, in the Presidential Decree “On measures to radically improve the system of state support of persons with disabilities” (adopted on December 1, 2017);
secondly, in the Program of Actions dedicated to the 70th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (approved by the Presidential Decree of May 5, 2018);
thirdly, in the National Strategy of the Republic of Uzbekistan on Human Rights (approved by the Presidential Decree of June 22, 2020);
fourthly, in the speech of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan at the 46th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council on February 22, 2021.
In the final recommendations and considerations of the UN Human Rights Council and UN treaty bodies – the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Uzbekistan several times recommended taking measures to ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
In the meantime, work was carried out to improve the Law “On Social Protection of Persons with Disabilities in the Republic of Uzbekistan”, adopted on November 18, 1991 and approved in 2008. On the initiative of the President of Uzbekistan in 2017, a draft law “On the Rights of Persons with Disabilities” was developed. The project was posted on the Single Portal for Interactive Public Services on July 20, 2018.
In the draft law “On the rights of persons with disabilities”, developed on the initiative of the President of Uzbekistan attention was paid to take into account the international standards and requirements of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, most importantly, the use of the term “person with disabilities” instead of the “disabled”.
Then, on July 22, 2020, the draft law “On the rights of persons with disabilities” was adopted by the Legislative Chamber of the Parliament and approved by the Senate on September 11, 2020. The law came into force on 15 January 2021, when the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan signed it on 15 October 2020, in accordance with Article 49 of the law, three months after the date of its official publication.
Thus, at the initiative of the President of Uzbekistan, first of all, a separate law was adopted in this regard. In turn, within the framework of the international initiative of the President, the Parliament of Uzbekistan has now ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
In sum, matters relating to following the principles of social justice, and guaranteeing living standards required to enjoy life fully for people with disabilities and for people in need of assistance or support are under continuous monitoring of Head of state.
The Convention is the World Constitution of Persons with Disabilities
It is known that the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 13 December 2006 and entered into force on 3 May 2008. In the case of February 2021, from 192 Member States of the United Nations, 182 of them ratified this Convention.
Note: UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is the first human rights treaty adopted in the 21st century.
The Convention recognizes the rights and fundamental freedoms of persons with disabilities, in particular their right to live, civil, legal protection, receive education, maintain their health, work on an equal footing with others, to participate in political, social, cultural life, leisure activities, recreation and sports, to have adequate living conditions for themselves and their family, and the rights to social assistance. Guarantees for the implementation of these rights are established.
The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities consists of 50 articles and was adopted on the basis of an analysis of the situation of persons with disabilities in the world. The World Health Organization estimates that 15% of the world’s population, experience some form of disability and today their number has reached 1 billion.
Most importantly, the Convention was adopted on the basis of a comprehensive analysis of the situation of persons with disabilities in the world. It is very important that this international legal document embodies the principles of diversity and dignity of the people.
The main idea of the Convention is that persons with disabilities should have access to all human rights and freedoms without discrimination.
The purpose of the present Convention as set forth in Article 1, “is to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities, and to promote respect for their inherent dignity”. It covers a number of important issues such as access, personal mobility, health, education, employment, habilitation and rehabilitation, participation in political life, as well as equality and non-discrimination.
Article 4 of the Convention sets out general obligations to ensure, encourage and protect the rights of persons with disabilities. In particular, States Parties undertake the following obligations:
• to take all necessary legislative, administrative and other measures to exercise the rights of persons with disabilities;
• to modify or abolish existing laws, regulations, and customs that are discriminatory against persons with disabilities;
• to take into account the protection and promotion of the rights of persons with disabilities in all policies and programs, and refrain from any actions or practice inconsistent with the Convention;
• to take the necessary measures to eliminate discrimination on the basis of disability by any person, organization or private enterprise;
• to require the minimum possible adaptation to the specific needs of persons with disabilities, conducting or to promote research and development of goods, services, equipment and universal design objects;
• to promote the training of specialists and staff working with persons with disabilities to improve the provision of the assistance and services guaranteed by the Convention on these recognized rights.
Women with disabilities (Article 6) and Children with disabilities (Article 7) are identified as priority subjects in the protection of the rights of persons with disabilities.
The United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (18 members) has been established to monitor the implementation of the Convention, review the reports of the participating States and make recommendations and general recommendations on these reports.
The Member States are required to submit an initial national report within 2 years of ratification of the Convention and then every 4 years thereafter.
Legal bases to guarantee the rights of persons with disabilities
One of the priorities of the state policy in the field of protection of the rights of persons with disabilities is the universally recognized norms and principles of international law in the exercise of civil, economic, political and other rights and freedoms provided to persons with disabilities, as well as ensuring equal opportunities with other citizens in accordance with international agreements of the Republic of Uzbekistan.
More than 760,000 people with disabilities live in Uzbekistan. They are covered by social protection and support, medical and social rehabilitation measures.
Especially, the Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of April 28, 2021 approved the “Administrative regulations for the provision of public services for the appointment of pensions to certain categories of citizens in need of social protection”. According to this document, from 1 August 2021, public services for the appointment of benefits to certain categories of citizens in need of social protection will be provided.
In addition, by the Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers dated April 29, 2021, the Interagency Council on the affairs of persons with disabilities operating permanently under the Government was established. The main tasks of the Interagency Council:
- coordination of the activities of bodies implementing state policy in the field of ensuring the rights of persons with disabilities, as well as local self-government bodies;
- participation in the implementation of state programs of rehabilitation, social protection and protection of the rights of persons with disabilities;
- assistance in education, vocational training, retraining, advanced training, employment of persons with disabilities;
- participation in the creation of favorable conditions for the full participation of persons with disabilities in the life of society and the state.
The protection of the rights of persons with disabilities in the political, socio-economic and cultural spheres of public life is based on the principle of non-discrimination, regardless of the situation, including the existence of a person with a disability. It is important that not only government agencies, but also civil society institutions are active in this regard.
Currently, there are about 600 non-governmental non-profit organizations in the field of disability in our country. Among them there are such NGOs as the Society of Disabled People of Uzbekistan, the Public Fund of Disabled People of Uzbekistan, the National Association of Disabled Women Entrepreneurs of Uzbekistan, the Center for Youth and Children with Disabilities, the Public Center “Umr” (Life) for helping children and Adolescents with disabilities of Uzbekistan, the Public Association of Disabled People “Inclusive life”, the Society of the Blind of Uzbekistan, the Society of the Deaf of Uzbekistan.
The analysis shows that the issues of ensuring and protecting the rights of persons with disabilities are currently regulated by more than 200 normative legal acts of the Republic of Uzbekistan. It includes the Constitution, more than 40 laws and more than 160 by-laws.
In particular, the rights of persons with disabilities in Uzbekistan are enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic of Uzbekistan, the Law on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the Law on Education, the Law on Public Health, the Law on Employment, the Law on Guarantees of Children’s Rights, and the Law on State Pensions, Law on labor protection, Law on physical culture and sports and the Labor Code of the Republic of Uzbekistan.
National legislation regulating the rights of persons with disabilities:
- legislation of the Republic of Uzbekistan “On the rights of persons with disabilities”, regulating all rights of persons with disabilities in the socio-economic sphere, as well as laws and other normative legal acts aimed at the implementation of rights of persons with disabilities to education;
- laws and other normative legal acts;
- health and medical services;
- employment issues;
- physical education, sports and recreation; use of social facilities and services, transport, communication and media;
- fair trial;
- participation in public and public affairs;
- it consists of such norms as responsibility for violations of the rights of persons with disabilities.
To sum up, the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, ratified by Uzbekistan is an international legal document that guarantees equality, the rights of persons with disabilities, especially the education of women and children, the preservation of health, work, and decent living for them and their families.
The ratification of the Convention was based on three sources: national legislation, foreign legal practice, and the Convention itself. The experience of such countries as the United States, Great Britain, Germany, Switzerland, Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, and Azerbaijan was thoroughly studied.
Namely, such leading states as the United States, Great Britain, Germany, Switzerland, along with the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, have adopted relevant national laws. The content of all these laws is identical, developed on the basis of the requirements of the Convention.
At the same time, it is also worth noticing that in Germany there are several laws aimed at the social protection of persons with disabilities. For instance, this includes the law “On Ensuring the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Society, at Work and in the Professional sphere”.
Experience of Uzbekistan in this subject matter is unique with the approach that has been taken into integrating the international legal act into national legal system. For the first time in the history of law-making the international legal act was initially implemented into national legislation and was ratified only after results of such act in the unique cultural, geographical, and social context had been evaluated.
Essentially, following aims are put forward when ratifying the Convention:
first, national framework of protecting people with disabilities socially is expected to match the international norms and standards.
secondly, opportunities to invite international organizations to fund projects directed at strengthening the social protection of persons with disabilities is expected to be enhanced.
thirdly, status of the country in the international arena with regards to social protection of vulnerable layers of society will be improved further.