UNICEF congratulates the Russian Federation for ratifying the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, describing it as a great step forward for people with disabilities, particularly children.
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Russia now joins 110 countries that have already ratified the Convention which recognizes the human rights of people with disabilities and commits Governments to making every effort to help them fully participate in their societies.
"The ratification of the Convention is an historic day for Russia and demonstrates Russia's commitment and leadership to addressing the rights of people with disability and especially children and adolescents, who are among the most marginalized in society," Marie-Pierre Poirier, UNICEF's Regional Director for Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States said.
"Including children with disabilities into all aspects of society in particular education is one of UNICEF's priorities in the region and Russia's ratification is significant not only for Russia but the region."
Bertrand Bainvel, Head of the UNICEF Moscow Office, said the ratification was the start of a process in which Russia would review and harmonize its legislation and policy to ensure its compliance with the Convention, a process expected to be completed within the next 2 years.
"It is an achievement for all advocates in Russia - policy makers, NGOs, parents' associations, people living with disabilities and children whose voices have been heard. Given Russia's influence regionally and globally, today is an important landmark for many people with disabilities living beyond Russia's borders," Bainvel said.
According to the Russian Ministry of Health and Social Development, there are more than 13 million people with disabilities in Russia, including more than 500,000 children, which is about 9 per cent of the total population.
Today only 2 per cent of Russian schools have started to promote an inclusive education for children with disabilities, but this is to be increased to 50 per cent by 2015 under the Russian Government program Accessible Environment for 2011-2015. UNICEF believes the ambitious objective is feasible, provided it is pursued within a strategic plan with the necessary allocation of federal and decentralized public resources to improve facilities and access, train teachers and professionals, educate the public on the benefits of inclusive education for all children and society at large, and to end discrimination.