I am Klaus Lachwitz. I am President of Inclusion International. I was elected in 2010 on the occasion of our world congress in Berlin.
I am a lawyer by profession. I am the husband of a wife who has a sister with intellectual disabilities so I know for many years the family problems, I know what self-advocates want and I try to combine that with my professional interests.
For more than 30 years I was working for Lebenshilfe, Germany, which is the official member of Inclusion International. My field was usually disability rights and human rights.
Some of you might recall my former position as member of the Council (1986 – 1998) and Honorary Secretary General of Inclusion International (1990 – 1998) and my booklet: “Human Rights and Intellectual Disability – A Guide to international Human Rights Instruments for Persons with Intellectual Disability”, published by Inclusion International in 2002, where I have tried to summarize Inclusion Internationals` knowledge and positions regarding international human rights treaties and laws.
One of the highlights of my international activities took place in January 2004, when I, together with Robert Martin, New Zealand, self advocate and member of the Council of Inclusion International, was asked by Diane Richler, President of Inclusion International, to represent Inclusion International in the working group established by the UN – General Assembly to draft a Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).
Germany will ratify that Convention by the end of 2008 and Lebenshilfe Germany expects me to do my best to influence the process to transfer the contents of the CRPD into our national law.
By the end of October 2008 about 40 States Parties have ratified the Convention. This is a big success and, as a result of that, on Monday, November 3rd, 2008 the first Conference of States Parties on the CRPD took place on the UN premises in New York.
But it is a first step only to meet the requirements of the Convention: Careful examination of the conditions of life shows that the contents and aims of the CRPD are, in many parts of the world, far away from reality and still nothing more than a vision.
One example for that thesis is Article 24 (Education) of the Convention:
States Parties recognize that “children with disabilities are not excluded from free and compulsory primary education, or from secondary education, on the basis of disability” and that “persons with disabilities can access an inclusive, quality and free primary education and secondary education on an equal basis with others in the communities in which they live.”
In some countries inclusive education systems have been established already, but 90 per cent of all disabled children living in developing countries still do not receive any school education!
It is, therefore, a big task for all of us to put pressure on our governments to adopt all appropriate legislative and other measures for the implementation of the rights recognized in the CRPD and to build up a monitoring process (see Art. 33 section 2) at national level by establishing focal points including persons with disabilities and their representative organisations (see Art. 33 section 3).
I would like to bring in all my knowledge and experience to help Inclusion International members to benefit from the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and to fight for one of its main aims: That all persons with disabilities are full citizens of their country and that all of them are entitled to receive “Equal recognition before the Law” (Art. 12).
We should exchange good examples on how persons with intellectual disability are recognized and accepted by their countries as citizens who can claim all human rights enlisted in the CRPD and we should develop strategies to make the Convention known all over the world as the basic international human right instrument guiding all States Parties which have ratified the CRPD and its Optional Protocol.