English | Dzongkha Monday, October 21, 2019

UNCRPD essential for well-being of persons with disabilities

Phub Gyem, Thimphu
Dec 4, 2017

Built on the UN’s decades of work in the field of disability, the UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) advances rights and well-being of the disabled. If Bhutan ratifies it, the lives of many living with different kinds of disabilities might change for good.

They will gain access to facilities designed for their use. It will also help in creating a society in which people with disabilities are fully included and makes them confident, independent and contributing citizens.

Yesterday, as Bhutan marked the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, the Draktsho Vocational Training Centre for Special Children and Youth highlighted the importance of the convention. “We already have the education ministry doing a lot of work in the Special Education Needs (SEN) programme and we now have almost 15 to 16 registered SEN schools,” said Deki Zam, the Executive Director of Draktsho.

“We also have different CSOs working in various areas of disabilities and other ministries that work towards giving equal opportunity to persons with disabilities.”

The ratification of UN convention, she said, will further improve and promote the rights and well-being of people living with disabilities. “Working with Draktsho, I personally feel that Bhutan should ratify the UNCRPD so that they have access to all kinds of facilities, be it in the field of information, technology and education, or any kind of infrastructure.”

Gerald Daly,  the Resident Coordinator of the United Nations System’s Operational Activities for Development in Bhutan said there are a number of areas where Bhutan can and will benefit by ratifying the convention. “For example, we are going to put more emphasis on ensuring that new constructions in Bhutan are disabled friendly,” he said.

“The other area where we will benefit from ratifying the convention is we will strengthen data collection. So, we know where and who the most disabled are within the society and that will make sure the government’s limited resources are used wisely.”

The government recognizes the importance of the convention but a lot of constraints have put its ratification on hold since its signing in 2010. Because ratifying the convention entails fulfilling numerous UN obligations, Bhutan is not yet prepared to ratify it.

During a session in the National Council a few weeks ago, Foreign Minister Damcho Dorji was questioned on why the government has not been able to ratify the convention.  “Firstly, we do not have the expertise, secondly it will require huge budget and thirdly, we might need to make huge changes to the current infrastructure,” responded the minister.

“We have to prepare for all these and that requires a lot of research and budgetary preparations. If we ratify the convention without preparing for any of these and when we submit the report after two years, if we are not able to fulfill the many obligations of the convention, then it would portray the country as being complacent and not interested in fulfilling the obligations.”

The minister said nevertheless a high level task force had carried out a research on the legal and technical perspectives of ratifying the convention and submitted the report to the cabinet.

Bhutan signed the convention with around 190 other countries during the 65th UN General Assembly.

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