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Print this pageGeneral Comment No. 9: The Rights of Children with Disabilities




UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

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UN report

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The Committee on the Rights of the Child has published its General Comment number 9 on "The Rights of Children with Disabilities". The Committee regularly adopts "general comments" based on specific articles, provisions and themes of the Convention on the Rights of the Child to assist the States parties in fulfilling their obligations under the Convention and to stimulate international organisations and specialised agencies in achieving the full realisation of the rights recognised in the Convention.

It is estimated that there are 500-650 million persons with disabilities in the world, approximately 10 per cent of the world population, 150 million of whom are children. More than 80 per cent live in developing countries with little or no access to services. The majority of children with disabilities in developing countries remains out of school and is completely illiterate. It is recognised that the majority of causes for disabilities such as war, illness and poverty are preventable along with preventing and/or reducing the secondary impacts of disabilities, often caused by the lack of early/timely intervention. Therefore, more is needed to create the necessary political will and a real commitment to investigate and put into practice the most effective actions to prevent disabilities with the participation of all levels of society.

The past few decades have witnessed positive focus on persons with disabilities in general and children in particular. The reason for this is partly because of the increasingly heard voice of individuals with disabilities and their advocates, because of the growing attention paid to persons with disabilities in the framework of the human rights treaties and the UN human rights treaty bodies. However, although these treaty bodies have considerable potential in this field, they have generally been underused in advancing the rights of persons with disabilities. A Special Rapporteur on Disability of the UN Commission for Social Development was also appointed in 1994. Finally, a new Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has recently been adopted.

In 1997 the Committee devoted its Day of General Discussion to children with disabilities. It resulted in an elaborated set of recommendations (see CRC/C/66, paragraphs 310-339), including that the Committee should consider the possibility of drafting a General Comment on children with disabilities.

The Committee, in reviewing State party reports, has accumulated a wealth of information on the status of children with disabilities worldwide and found that in the overwhelming majority of countries some recommendations had to be made specifically for children with disabilities.

The problems identified and addressed have varied from exclusion from decision making to the severe discrimination and actual killing of children with disabilities. Poverty is both a cause and a consequence of disability. Children with disabilities and their families have the right to an adequate standard of living, including adequate food, clothing and housing and to the continuous improvement of living conditions. The question of children with disabilities living in poverty should be addressed by allocating adequate budgetary resources as well as by ensuring access by children with disabilities to social protection and poverty reduction programmes.

Children with disabilities are still experiencing serious difficulties and barriers in the full enjoyment of the rights enshrined in the Convention. The barrier is not the disability itself but it is a combination of social, cultural, attitudinal and physical barriers which children with disabilities encounter in their daily lives.

This General Comment is meant to provide guidance and assistance to States parties in their efforts to implement the rights of children with disabilities, in a comprehensive manner which covers all the provisions of the Convention.

Further information

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Last updated 17/10/2006 08:26:36

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