Myanmar Accedes to the international Convention on the Rights of Disabled People (CRPD)

The ICBL had previously been informed by Foreign Ministry officials that the legal review of this convention had been completed, but that the Convention would have to forwarded to the new Parliament for debate and approal.

On 9 December, the United Nations received the accession from Myanmar, which will go into effect 6 January 2012. UN notice here.

“85% of our patients are landmine survivors” Maw Keh - Chief Technician, Prosthetic Center, Mae Tao Clinic on the Burma- Thai border.Photo: Giovanni Diffidenti, rights reserved.

Myanmar’s adherence to the CRPD will be significant for increasing assistance to the countries landmine, and other, disabled.

Specifically, Myanmar must undertake a survey of the number of people disabled to make a clear assessment of disability needs within the country, specifically it would require determining the total number of mine survivors and their specific needs, and the extent/lack of and quality of services that exist to address their needs. CRPD, article 31 (Data and Statistics)

Myanmar must see to the availability of emergency first aid and adequate medical care (e.g. trained staff, medicines, equipment and infrastructure). CRPD, article 25 (Right to Health)

Myanmar shall see to rehabilitation services and physiotherapy, and the supply of prosthetic appliances and assistive devices, and to promote physical wellbeing. CRPD, article 20 (Personal Mobility); article 26 (Right to Rehabilitation)

Myanmar pledges to provide Psychological Support and Social Reintegration, such as community-based peer support groups, associations for disabled people, sporting and related activities, professional counseling. CRPD, article 26 (Right to Rehabilitation, see specific reference to “peer support”); article 30
(Right to Sport)

Myanmar will provide the opportunities for Economic Reintegration through assistance programmes that improve the economic status of
mine victims in mine-affected communities through education, economic development of community infrastructure and the creation of employment opportunities. CRPD, article 27 (Right to Work and Employment)

Myanmar will develop Law and Public Policies through legislation and actions that promote effective treatment, care and protection for all disabled citizens, including landmine survivors. CRPD, article 4 (General Obligations)

None of these obligations will be met overnight, given the current situation within the country. However by acceding to this Convention Myanmar has obligated itself to undertake the work which will improve enormously the quality of life of people who have survived landmine injuries within the country.

Transparency will be a key, since in the past, some people have reported to the ICBL that they have been forced by officials to hide the reason for their disability if they stepped on a landmine, or they could not seek treatment without fear of retribution from the authorities. Significant amounts of international assistance will be needed to improve the current status of the health, social welfare and legal system to meet these obligations.

The ICBL continues to urge Myanmar to join the Mine Ban Treaty to bring an end to new mine use which will cause further disability to survivors. Simultaneously the ICBL urges non-state armed groups within the country to halt any further mine use and to publicly ban use of the weapon. The ICBL requests that a halt on new mine use be included in any ceasefire now under discussion between the authorities and the various armed ethnic based militias within the country.

See also: Cautious hope for Burma’s ‘second-class citizens’, DVB, 12 December 2011.