There are at least 650 million people with disabilities in the world. They are often the poorest of the poor. The stigma and discrimination they suffer are common to all societies. People with disabilities are often denied chances to work, go to school, and participate fully in society, hindering their prosperity and well-being. The Convention, adopted on 16 December 2006, aims to change the way people with disabilities are viewed and treated in their nations. Although the Convention entered quickly into force on May 3, 2008, the challenge now is to ensure widespread ratification implementation at the national level. Conference panelists will address these issues from both a national and international perspective.

The first panel will focus on the background of the treaty, including the negotiations and the broader human rights context. It will include speakers who have negotiated the treaty, and who can speak directly about the background and challenges faced by the Convention. We hope to include speakers from the UN or other NGOs to provide insight on the unique considerations and challenges. Discussion may include the drafting of the treaty, the necessary compromises, and cultural differences in perceptions of disability and disability rights.

The second panel will focus on the implementation of the treaty at the national level, and will include members of the various national implementation bodies. Speakers will discuss individual challenges and considerations faced by their country in implementing the treaty — either (1) based on a particular issue, (e.g. employment of people with disabilities), or (2) a specific population, (e.g. women with mental illness).

The final panel will focus on how the United States should approach the Convention. The speakers will address the Convention under the Obama administration, and analyze the Convention's significance in light of existing national laws that protect the rights of people with disabilities. Speakers may also address areas in which U.S. law is substantively ahead of or behind the treaty, and issues in the U.S. that would benefit most from an international human rights approach.

Articles from the symposium are available in the Fall 2010 issue of the Loyola of Los Angeles International and Comparative Law Review.

Agenda and Panel Topics

10:00 - 11:30 AM | Panel One
Background, negotiations, and the broader human rights context of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

11:45 AM - 1:15 PM | Lunch - Video Address
His Excellency, Ambassador Luis Gallegos Chiriboga, Ambassador of Ecuador to the United States

1:30 - 3:00 PM | Panel Two
The implementation of the treaty and individual challenges and considerations faced by various nations.

3:15 - 5:00 PM | Panel Three
The United States' approach to the Convention and its significance related to existing national laws that protect the rights of people with disabilities.

Confirmed Speakers

William Aceves, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Professor
California Western School of Law

Dr. Peter Blanck, University Professor, Chairman
Burton Blatt Institute, Syracuse University

Dr. Gyorgy Konczei, Dean of Special Education
Eötvös Loránd University

Stephanie Ortoleva, Senior Human Rights Legal Advisor
BlueLaw International

Shawna L. Parks, Legal Director, Disability Rights Legal Center; Adjunct Professor
Loyola Law School

Paula D. Pearlman, Executive Director, Disability Rights Legal Center; Associate Visiting Professor of Law
Loyola Law School

Gerard Quinn, Director
Center for Disability Law and Policy, NUI Galway School of Law

Eric Rosenthal, Esq., Founder & Executive Director
Mental Disability Rights International

Charles Siegal, Partner
Munger, Tolles, & Olson

Dr. Michael Stein, Executive Director
Harvard Law School Project on Disability

Michael Waterstone, Professor, Associate Dean for Academic Programs
Loyola Law School