New York: The United Arab Emirates has ratified the convention on the rights of persons with disabilities.

Minister of Social Affairs Maryam Mohammad Khalfan Al Roumi signed the convention here at the department of legal affairs of the UN headquarters.

The convention and its optional protocols were adopted by the UN General Assembly in December 2006.

The door was opened on March 30, 2007 for member countries to ratify the agreement which aims to enhance protection to disabled persons and give them equal treatment in terms of human rights, basic freedom and respect for their dignity.

The convention demands that all signatories take the necessary steps to put in place legislation and all necessary steps to improve their national laws and bye-laws in a way that will end all forms of discrimination against disabled persons, improve their living conditions, provide equal opportunity for their education, health and rehabilitation services.

In a statement after signing the convention, the UAE minister said the significance of the convention lies in the fact that it provides an additional mechanism in humanity's efforts to boost the rights of all persons and institutionalise a new practice of dealing with the issue of disability and disabled persons.

"It aims to switch from the practice of caring on an ethical, social and humanitarian basis to one that is based on development and participation in a society on the principles of right, responsibility, equal opportunity and equality with the aim of pulling disabled persons out of isolation and making them fully integrated into socio-economic life so that they can offer positive contributions to development," she said.

The minister said the convention provides a very clear legal backing by the international community for the complete participation of disabled persons in all socio-economic activities on an equal footing with their able counterparts.

She said the most interesting part of the convention is its recognition of the rights of the disabled to enjoy equal status with their able counterparts.

"This is a great achievement for this segment of society which has suffered so much in isolation, neglect, maltreatment and abuses," she said, adding that the convention was the fruit of decades of hard work and concerted efforts to achieve the rights of disabled persons.

This is a great achievement for this segment of the society which has suffered so much in isolation, neglect, maltreatment and abuses."

Maryam Mohammad Khalfan Al Roumi

Minister of Social Affairs