Australian representative on the new United Nations (UN) Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Professor Ron McCallum AO, will today deliver the annual University of Newcastle Human Rights and Social Justice Lecture.
Professor McCallum is the first completely blind person to have been appointed to a full professorship at any university in Australia and New Zealand and is a specialist in industrial law.
His address will be his first since being appointed to the new 12-member UN Committee during a meeting in New York last week.
Professor McCallum said the Committee and the new UN Convention on the rights of disabled persons was an important step forward in the protection of rights for the world's largest minority.
"Around 650 million people, or 10 per cent* of the total world population, experience various forms of disabilities and the overwhelming majority live in developing countries," Professor McCallum said.
"While there are seven landmark UN human rights treaties, including the protection of women and children, until now there had been no specific global treaty addressing the rights of people with disabilities."
The purpose of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is to promote, protect and ensure full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all people with a disability.
The Convention moves beyond the question of access to the physical environment to broader issues concerning equality and elimination of social barriers to participation, social opportunities, health, education, employment and personal development.
Professor McCallum is the former Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Sydney, Deputy Chair of the Vision Australia board and 'Don't DIS my ABILITY' Ambassador, a campaign run by the NSW Department of Ageing, Disability and Home Care to celebrate International Day of People with a Disability on December 3.
His address will explore the main provisions of the Convention, his reflections on his appointment to the UN Committee, and Australia's ratification of the Convention in July this year.
* World Health Organisation figures.
The 2008 University of Newcastle Human Rights and Social Justice Lecture will be delivered by Professor Ron McCallum AO at 1pm Monday 10 November in the Richardson Lecture Theatre.
Media are welcome.