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Human Rights Defenders

“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”

 Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Article 1

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"No pessimist ever discovered the secret of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new doorway for the human spirit."

- Helen Keller

"The first step in the evolution of ethics is a sense of solidarity with other human beings."

Albert Schweitzer 1875-1965,

German Nobel Peace Prize-winning mission doctor and theologian

President Obama signs the CRPD

On July 30, 2009, the President of the United States signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), which is a treaty defining the rights of persons with disabilities under international human rights law, which affects more than 600 million persons with disabilities around the world.

Introducing this decision, President Obama stated, “Disability rights aren't just civil rights to be enforced here at home; they're universal rights to be recognized and promoted around the world.”

 

http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/Remarks-by-the-President-on-Rights-of-Persons-with-Disabilities-Proclamation-Signing/

 

The purpose of the CRPD is was 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. Expressed in the CRPD is the concept of reasonable accommodation, which is a new way to conceptualize the whole field of human rights. The Center for the Human Rights of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry (CHRUSP), with the leadership of Tina Minkowitz, played a significant role in negotiations on the text of the CRPD in advocating for the rights of users and survivors of psychiatry as well as the rights of all persons with disabilities.

 

For the first time in 34 years, the United States will this fall be examining its own record in regards to human rights and preparing a report for the United Nations Human Rights Council. The United States as a nation has never participated in this United Nations Universal Periodic Review of Human Rights before (UPR). Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated that the Obama administration was "committed to holding everyone to the same standard, including ourselves."

 

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) is an office of the United Nations Secretariat mandated to promote and protect all rights established in international human rights laws and treaties. Located in Geneva, the OHCHR works to prevent human rights violations, secure respect for all human rights, promote international cooperation to protect human rights, and coordinate related activities throughout the United Nations.

 

According to the UN's Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR), "The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a unique process which involves a review of the human rights records of all 192 UN Member States once every four years. The UPR is a significant innovation of the Human Rights Council which is based on equal treatment for all countries. It provides an opportunity for all States to declare what actions they have taken to improve the human rights situations in their countries and to overcome challenges to the enjoyment of human rights. The UPR also includes a sharing of best human rights practices around the globe. Currently, no other mechanism of this kind exists."

 

This UPR is an important first step to establishing a direct feedback from the people of the U.S.A. to the President about how our nation is doing in regards to Human Rights.

 

Medical Whistleblower is conducting a survey regarding Human Rights in the U.S.A. If you would like to be included in this survey please contact us at Medical Whistleblower, P.O. Box C, Lawrence, KS 66044

"The moral test of government is how it treats those who are in the dawn of life . . . the children; those who are in the twilight of life . . . the elderly; and those who are in the shadow of life . . . the sick . . . the needy . . . and the disabled."

- Hubert H. Humphrey

Our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children's future. And we are all mortal.


John F. Kennedy 

“A true friend knows your weaknesses but shows you your strengths; feels your fears but fortifies your faith; sees your anxieties but frees your spirit; recognizes your disabilities but emphasizes your possibilities.”

- William Arthur Ward

10 Principles of Independent Living

10 Principles of Independent Living

Source: Statewide Independent Living Council of Illinois

  1. Civil Rights – equal rights and opportunities for all; no segregation by disability type or stereotype.
  2. Consumerism – a person ("consumer" or "customer") using or buying a service or product decides what is best for him/herself.
  3. De-institutionalization – no person should be institutionalized (formally by a building, program, or family) on the basis of a disability.
  4. De-medicalization – individuals with disabilities are not "sick," as prescribed by the assumption of the medical model and so not require help from certified medical professionals for daily living.
  5. Self-help – people learn and grow from discussing their needs, concerns, and issues with people who have had similar experiences; "professionals" are not the source of the help provided.
  6. Advocacy – systemic, systematic, long-term, and community-wide change activities are needed to ensure that people with disabilities benefit from all the society has to offer.
  7. Barrier-removal – in order for civil rights, consumerism, de-institutionalization, de-medicalization, and self-help to occur, architectural, communication and attitudinal barriers must be removed.
  8. Consumer control – the organizations best suited to support and assist individuals with disabilities are governed, managed, staffed, and operated by individuals with disabilities.
  9. Peer role models – leadership for independent living and disability rights is vested in individuals with disabilities (not parents, service providers or other representatives).
  10. Cross-disability – activities designed to achieve the first five principles must be cross-disability in approach, meaning that the work to be done must be carried out by people with different types of disabilities for the benefit of all persons with disabilities.

"It is a waste of time to be angry about my disability. One has to get on with life and I haven't done badly. People won't have time for you if you are always angry or complaining."

- Stephen Hawking

 

 

Medical Whistleblower is:

Calling on the United States to Ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

 

WHEREAS, the Convention is the first human rights treaty of the 21st century; and the President of the United States signed the treaty on July 30, 2009 and it is now necessary to ratify the treaty to give it the force of law.

 

WHEREAS, the United Nations General Assembly adopted by consensus a landmark treaty, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on December 13 2006, to promote and protect the rights of the world's 650 million Disabled people; and

 

WHEREAS, the Convention will require ratifying nations "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" and promote awareness of the capabilities of those who have disabilities; and

 

WHEREAS, historically, persons with disabilities have been marginalized, stigmatized, and deprived of opportunities and freedoms afforded to individuals without disabilities; and the Convention also requires governments to fight stereotypes of people with disabilities; and

 

WHEREAS, WHEREAS, the Convention also recognizes that attitudes need to change if disabled people are to achieve equality; and

 

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that Medical Whistleblower as an advocacy network supports the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that Medical Whistleblower will actively pursue a commitment from the United States to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and recommit ourselves as a country to human rights, empowerment and independent living for all people with disabilities of the world.

 

ACTION ALERT: Help Build Support for the UN Convention on Human Rights for Persons with Disabilities

 

The President of the United States, Barack Obama, chose to continue the U.S.'s historic role as a leader in the field of disability and human rights, and on July 30, 2009 signed the UN Convention on the Human Rights for Persons with Disabilities.

 

HOW YOU CAN HELP: You can help generate grassroots support to urge the U.S. Congress to follow President Barack Obama's lead and to ratify this critical international human rights document. Encourage your local and state governmental bodies and organizations to pass resolutions endorsing the UN Convention on Human Rights for Persons with Disabilities.

 

WHEN TO ACT: Now!

 

WHO: These are some organizations that you can approach:

 

1. Local city, county, town, and other municipal offices.

 

2. Local, state, and national organizations that focus on civil and human rights.

 

3. Local disability boards and commissions.

 

WHAT TO DO:

 

1. CALL the offices of these local and state governments, commissions, boards, and organizations and ask to speak to the staff person who handles policy or public affairs.

 

2. TELL THEM:You are disappointed that the United States has not yet ratified the UN Convention on Human Rights for Persons with Disabilities and that you want to ensure that the US actively participates in the quest for international human rights.

 

You believe that they can play a leadership role in convincing the President and Administration to sign the Convention. The Convention is consistent with and reinforces American values and principles. The US is proud of the progress made since passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990.

 

Ask your local government to pass a resolution in support of the Convention.

"Horus (civilization) and Seth (force) are unified by law."

Throne pedestal from Lisht, Sesostris I, anscient Egyptian pharao of the 12th dynasty, Middle Kingdom, as explained by Jan Assman, Professor of Egyptology at the University of Heidelberg in 'The Mind of Egypt' (ca. 1950 B.C.)

"Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced."

- James Baldwin


Human Rights Yes!

The following finormation is from the curriculum Human Rights Yes! For more information, please contact the Human Rights Resource Center:

N-120 Mondale Hall
229 19th Ave S
Minneapolis, MN 55455

humanrts@umn.edu
(612) 626-0041
(888) HREDUC8 (888-473-3828)

"With us the circle stands for the togetherness of people who sit with one another around a fire, relatives and friends united in peace, while the Pipe passes from hand to hand. Once all the families in the villages were in turn circles within a larger circle, part of the larger hoop of the nation. The nation was only part of the universe, in itself circular….circles within circles, within circles, with no beginning and no end.

“To us this is beautiful and fitting; symbol and reality at the same time, expressing the harmony of nature and life. Our circle is timeless, flowing; it is new life emerging from death – life winning out over death.”

-Lame Deer: Seeker of Visions

Myths and Stereotypes about People with Disabilities

People with disabilities -

  • cannot be self-sufficient/are excessively dependent;
  • are to be pitied
  • are helpless
  • are cursed/disability is a punishment for evil
  • are bitter because of their fate
  • resent the non-disabled world
  • have lives not worth living
  • are better off at home
  • cannot work
  • cannot have a family/cannot be good parents
  • are asexual
  • need to be cured and helped by medical professionals
  • need special, separate educational programs
  • cannot be involved in cultural/recreational activities
  • are unable to learn
  • (People with intellectual disabilities) are naive, like children,
    and cannot make any decisions for themselves
  • (People with psycho-social disabilities) are dangerous/a threat/violent
  • must use alternative ways of communicating because they are stupid.

 

"I am neither an optimist nor pessimist, but a possibilist."

- Max Lerner

 

ATTITUDES AND PERCEPTIONS REGARDING DISABILITY

 

 

ATTITUDES AND PERCEPTIONS

REGARDING DISABILITY

Although they are entitled to every human right, persons with disabilities often face serious discrimination based on attitudes, perceptions, misunderstandings, and lack of awareness. For example, the misconception that people with disabilities cannot be productive members of the workforce may lead employers to discriminate against job applicants who have disabilities, even if they are perfectly qualified to perform the work. Or it might mean that buildings where jobs are located are not constructed in a way that people with mobility impairments can access them.

Such limitations can affect other population groups as well. For example, in some societies attitudes toward women prohibit them from owning property or participating in public life. Members of racial or ethnic minorities are often forbidden to speak their own language or practice their religion. A person with a disability who also belongs to another group that experiences discrimination (e.g., a disabled woman who belongs to an ethnic minority) may face multiple layers of discrimination and barriers to realizing human rights.

In addition to attitudes and perception coming from external sources, each individual&3039;s attitude directly affects how he or she exercises human rights. A person who believes a disability makes her or him somehow different in respect to human rights will claim - or not claim - those rights very differently.

Destructive Attitudes and Concepts

The Medical Model of Disability:
Perhaps the most significant and widespread myth affecting human rights and disability is the idea that disability is a medical problem that needs to be solved or an illness that needs to be "cured." This notion implies that a person with a disability is somehow "broken" or "sick" and requires fixing or healing. By defining disability as the problem and medical intervention as the solution, individuals, societies, and governments avoid the responsibility of addressing the human rights obstacles that exist in the social and physical environment. Instead, they place the burden on the health profession to address the "problem" in the person with the disability.

The Charity Model of Disability:
Another major misperception is that people with disabilities are helpless and need to be cared for. It is much easier for people to offer pity and charity than to address the fear or discomfort they themselves feel when it comes to people with disabilities. It is also often easier to do something for somebody than to make sure that they have the resources to do it for themselves.

The result of both the medical and charity approach is to strip people with disabilities of the power and responsibility for taking charge of their own lives and asserting their rights on an equal basis with others.

 

Positive Attitudes and Concepts

Disability as a Natural Part of Human Diversity:
Everyone is different, whether that difference relates to color, gender, ethnicity, size, shape, or anything else. A disability is no different. It may limit a person's mobility or their ability to hear, see, taste, or smell. A psycho-social disability or intellectual disability, may affect the way people think, feel, or process information. Regardless of its characteristics, disability neither subtracts from nor adds to a person's humanity, value or rights. It is simply a feature of a person.

Reasonable Accommodation:
A person with disabilities may require a reasonable accommodation, such as a wheelchair or more time to accomplish a task. A reasonable accommodation is simply a resource or a measure designed to promote full participation and access and to empower a person to act on his or her own behalf. This approach is not the same as trying to fix the person or fix the disability (the Medical Model) or assuming that people with disabilities are incapable of acting for themselves (the Charity Model).

The Social Model of Disability:
This model focuses on eliminating the barriers created by the social and physical environment that inhibit the ability of persons with disabilities to exercise their human rights. This includes, for instance, promoting positive attitudes and perceptions, modifying the built environment, providing information in accessible formats, interacting with individuals with disabilities in appropriate ways, and making sure that laws and policies support the exercise of full participation and non-discrimination.

THE HUMAN RIGHTS APPROACH TO DISABILITY

The social model of disability, which focuses on the responsibility of governments and society to ensure access, inclusion, and participation, sets the stage for the emergence of the Human Rights Approach to Disability, which focuses on the inherent human rights of persons with disabilities. This approach:

  • Identifies persons with disabilities as rights holders and subjects of human rights law on an equal basis with all people
  • Recognizes and respects a person's disability as an element of natural human diversity, on the same basis as race or gender, and addresses the disability-specific prejudices, attitudes, and other barriers to the enjoyment of human rights
  • Places the responsibility on society and governments for ensuring that political, legal, social, and physical environments support the human rights and full inclusion and participation of people with disabilities.

The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has summarized the rights-based approach as follows:

"A human rights approach asks what are the long term or underlying reasons why a section of society is vulnerable, marginalized or experiences discrimination.

A human rights approach then provides strategies based in international human rights law and standards which address these root causes of discrimination."

In particular the OHCHR stresses the following ideas:

Empowerment: A human rights approach to disability aims to empower people with disabilities to make their own choices, advocate for themselves, and exercise control over their lives.

Enforceability and Remedies: A human rights approach to disability means that people with disabilities should be able to enforce their rights at the national and international levels.

Indivisibility: A rights-based approach to disabilities must protect both the civil and political rights as well as economic, social, and cultural rights of people with disabilities.

Participation: A human rights approach to disabilities says that people with disabilities must be consulted and participate in the process of making decisions that affect their lives.

Barriers to exercising human rights can stem from attitudes, prejudice, a practical issue, a legal obstacle, or a combination of factors. But a disability itself does not affect or limit a person's entitlement to human rights in any way. Defining persons with disabilities first and foremost as rights holders and subjects of human rights law on an equal basis with others is an extremely powerful approach to changing perceptions and attitudes, as well as providing a system for ensuring the human rights of persons with disabilities.

“Each handicap is like a hurdle in a steeplechase, and when you ride up to it, if you throw your heart over, the horse will go along, too.”

- Lawrence Bixby

 

Key Non-Binding Instruments on Disability

 

  • World Programme of Action Concerning Disabled Persons:
    The UN declared 1981 as the "International Year of Disabled Persons" (IYDP) with the theme of full equality and participation of persons with disabilities and a call for plans of action at the national, regional, and international levels. One important outcome of the IYDP was the development by the UN of the World Programme of Action Concerning Disabled Persons with the stated purpose "to promote effective measures for prevention of disability, rehabilitation and the realization of the goals of 'full participation' of disabled persons in social life and development and of equality." To provide a timeframe for governments to implement the World Programme of Action, the UN declared 1983-1992 the United Nations Decade of Disabled Persons.
  • UN Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunity for Persons with Disabilities:
    Many people believed that the World Programme of Action, although valuable, would not achieve the results needed to ensure that the rights of disabled persons were respected. In 1987 the UN convened a meeting to consider drafting a convention on disability rights; however, at that time there was not enough support to move ahead. In 1990, the UN decided to develop another kind of instrument that would not be international law but rather a statement of principles signifying a political and moral commitment to equalizing opportunities for disabled people. The resulting Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunity for Persons with Disabilities (Standard Rules), adopted in 1993, was the first international instrument to recognize that the rights of disabled persons are greatly affected by the legal, political, social, and physical environment. Although superseded by the CRPD, the Standard Rules are still an important advocacy tool for the disability community, and many of its principles served as a basis for drafting that Convention.
  • The UN Principles for the Protection of Persons with Mental Illness and the Improvement of Mental Health Care (The MI Principles):
    These principles were developed in 1991 to establish minimum standards for practice in the mental health field. The MI Principles have been used as a blueprint for the development of mental health legislation in many countries. They include some very important concepts, such as the right to live in the community.
  • Many advocates in the field of psycho-social disability believe that this instrument establishes lower standards on some issues than is reflected in other human rights law and policy. In particular, there is concern about requirements for "informed consent" for treatment of people with psycho-social disabilities. Disability advocates should look carefully at the standards in this instrument and decide for themselves whether or not it should be used as an advocacy tool for the rights of persons with psycho-social disabilities.

 “Deserve the Grace of God by helping the weak and poor, the diseased and the disabled, the distressed and the downtrodden.”

 

 Sri Sathya Sai Baba

"I discovered early that the hardest thing to overcome is not a physical disability but the mental condition which it induces. The world, I found, has a way of taking a man pretty much at his own rating. If he permits his loss to make him embarrassed and apologetic, he will draw embarrassment from others. But if he gains his own respect, the respect of those around him comes easily."

- Alexander de Seversky

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”
 
― Leo Buscaglia

Medical Whistleblower Advocacy Network

MEDICAL WHISTLEBLOWER ADVOCACY NETWORK

P.O. 42700 

Washington, DC 20015

MedicalWhistleblowers (at) gmail.com

CONTACT

"Never impose on others what you would not choose for yourself."  Confucius

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."

Theodore Roosevelt- Excerpt from the speech "Citizenship In A Republic", delivered at the Sorbonne, in Paris, France on 23 April, 1910