In 1992, the United Nations General Assembly declared December 3 “International Day of Persons with Disabilities”. The aim was “to promote and protect the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities will make a significant contribution to redressing the profound social disadvantage of persons with disabilities and promote their participation in the civil, political, economic, social and cultural spheres with equal opportunities”.

The United Nations’ long-term work in this area was reflected in the 2006 in the International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, a human rights instrument which purpose is “to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities, and to promote respect for their inherent dignity”.

The Convention, the first comprehensive human rights instrument of the 21st century, entered into force on May 3, 2008, ratified by 20 countries. It currently has 163 ratifications, 94 signatories to the Optional Protocol, 182 ratifications of the Convention and 96 signatories to the Protocol.

The Convention adopts a social model of disability, and also defines it as follows: “Persons with disabilities include 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.”

Following the Convention, the UN has further advanced the rights and well-being of these people in the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and other international frameworks. And in 2019 it launched the UN Strategy for Disability Inclusion, “in line with its commitment to make the United Nations an inclusive organization for everybody”.