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Liz Lynne MEP welcomes historic vote on disabled people's rights

September 3, 2003 12:00 AM
Liz Lynne speaking at a press conference in the European Parliament

Liz lead the campaign for a UN Charter of Disabled People's Rights in the European Parliament

Liberal Democrat Euro-MP Liz Lynne today welcomed the overwhelming decision by the European Parliament to support her report, "Towards a United Nations legally binding instrument to promote and protect the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities."

Liz said,

"Today, after months of work in drafting the report and forming a consensus across the political spectrum, the European Parliament has voted to back the development of a UN Convention on Disabled People's Rights as well as outlining how such a convention would eventually look.

"Some people argued that consultation on the Convention should be restricted to just organisations which are run for and by disabled people themselves. My position, which was supported by the overwhelming majority of MEPs, was that disabled people, organisations of disabled people and organisations representing disabled people should be consulted by the UN.

"A number of organisations who claim to be organisations of disabled people in actual fact only have a requirement to have 51% of disabled people on their board and in many cases employ few disabled people themselves. Many in the disability movement are now arguing, rightly I believe, that to describe an organisation as an of disabled people organisation they have to have a far greater percentage on the board and employ a great deal more disabled people. Indeed, some organisations are now 100% disabled people on the board and on the staff.

"This is indeed what I believe we should aim for, but even in the EU we are not there yet, the European Disability Forum being a case in point with only 3 out of 12 disabled employees. Indeed in the developing world there are very few organisations 'of' disabled people and many more organisations representing disabled people. Today's vote was on a framework for developing a charter of disabled people's rights at a UN level, not just the EU, and we must consider it from a global perspective.

"Secondly, people with a severe mental health problem or a profound learning disability quite often need advocates to speak for them. Although the family often fulfils that role that is not always the case and this is where an advocate's organisation comes in.

"The fact that politicians from across Europe and the political spectrum united in support of this report today bodes well for the UN Convention. But Europe must lead by example, which is why we must begin work on an EU Disability Directive as soon as possible."

You can find a copy of Liz's report, and the European Parliament's debate on it by going to the "Documents" section of this website.