New Jersey Should Follow the Path of the United Nations
Sunday, September 2, 2012 • 7:31am
The Labor Day weekend marks the return to “Everyday Business” in New Jersey. Families return from summer vacation. children return to school, and State Legislators return from a summer break and begin to address, once again, the bills that were previously introduced and which contain the “people’s business.” Within the agenda is
the burning issue of the “rights of people with disabilities.”
Over the last decade, the civil rights movement that has attempted to raise the importance of the lives of people with disabilities has grown enormously. The United Nations launched the “Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities”, which included a multifaceted agenda. The UN drafted the goals of the Convention on December 13, 2006.
A committee was formed in order to monitor the Convention, with the various nations being given the opportunity to sign on to the mission. The convention was opened for signature by participating nations and states on March 30, 2007. Currently, 157 nations have become signatories. In addition, the convention defined disabled persons as those
who have “long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.”
The UN modeled the basic goals and principle of the convention on the following objectives:
1. Respect for inherent dignity, individual autonomy including the freedom to make one's own choices, and independence of persons
3. Full and effective participation and inclusion in society
4. Respect for difference and acceptance of persons with disabilities as part of human diversity and humanity
5. Equality of opportunity
7. Equality between men and women
8. Respect for the evolving capacities of children with disabilities and respect for the right of children with disabilities to preserve their identities
The primary goals of the Convention are to ensure the right of people with disabilities to:
Prevention of discrimination
Situations of risk and humanitarian emergency
Recognition before the law and legal capacity
Access to justice
Right to education
Right to health
Protecting the integrity of the person
Respect for the family
Habilitation and rehabilitation
Work and employment
Adequate standard of living and social protection
- "Right to vote”
New Jersey can very well take heed from the goals of the convention. Currently, New Jerseyans with disabilities have three times the unemployment rate of their non-disabled peers. In addition, disabled New Jerseyans have a higher rate of homelessness, a much more limited access to public transportation, marginal health care, and the egregious
loss of the ability to live independently. Although lip service has been paid to the plight of people with disabilities by lawmakers, little is being done to make these vulnerable individuals full participating members in our society.
Now, the Labor Day weekend is upon us. Summer fun is over. Hopefully, the Governor and the Legislature will now get down to business and create an environment in which people with disabilities are truly welcomed as members of our community, and our state.
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