There were expressions of triumph and joy from representatives of self-advocacy and disability rights groups, including Inclusion International members the Canadian Association for Community Living and People First of Canada, following the announcement that the Government of Canada has begun the process to accede to the United Nations’ Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Over 50 national Disabled Persons Organizations were gathered in Ottawa, Canada on 1st December 2016, when the Honourable Stéphane Dion, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and the Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities, made the announcement.
“Our willingness to move this protocol forward is a significant step in supporting the rights of Canadians with disabilities. This announcement helps us foster equality and inclusiveness and brings us closer to a more accessible Canada.” said Minister Qualtrough.
Minister Dion added,
“As foreign minister, I promote the power of inclusion in a world that all too often is torn apart by exclusion. We hope Canada’s accession to the Optional Protocol in the near future will inspire other countries to join as well.”
The Optional Protocol gives people with disabilities a safeguard for their rights by establishing a complaint procedure that allows individuals and groups to bring petitions to the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities claiming that their rights under the convention have been violated. The Optional Protocol also establishes an inquiry procedure that gives the Committee authority to investigate allegations of grave or systematic violations of the provisions of the convention by a state party. The Optional Protocol was adopted by the UN in 2006 and entered into force in 2008. As of November 2016, there are 92 states parties to the protocol. Canada expects to accede to the Protocol by the end of 2017.
The full announcement is available to watch here.