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Law School professor plays role drafting UN human rights treaty

William & Mary Law School Professor Michael Stein has played an integral part in the international Ad Hoc Committee that has been meeting for five years to draft a United Nations disability human rights treaty. The United Nations Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities will be presented Wednesday, Dec. 13, by the committee for adoption by the UN General Assembly.Professor Stein

"We expect that when the statement is presented to the General Assembly during the morning session," Stein said, "that it will be speedily adopted by the majority of General Assembly members. This is the first Human Rights Convention of the 21st century and, while we know GA members will ask questions, we also expect no objections to the Convention’s statement."

Professor Stein has been an active member of the Ad Hoc Committee since its inception December 2001 per General Assembly resolution 56/168, and has had an integral role in the development and the adoption of the Convention along with UN committee members and other representatives from intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). He has been an advisor, as legal counsel, to several of the NGOs. At its eighth session last August, the Ad Hoc Committee adopted the draft text of the Convention and established an open-ended drafting group to ensure the uniformity of terminology, and harmonize the versions of the draft in the official languages of the United Nations.

Professor Stein joined the William & Mary Law School faculty in 2000 and specializes in bioethics, disability law, employment discrimination, civil procedure and torts. He holds a bachelor’s degree from New York University, a juris doctor degree from Harvard Law School and a Ph.D. from Cambridge University.

In a statement released Dec. 3, the observance of the International Day of Disabled Persons, the Secretary General to the United Nations Kofi Annan spoke about this year’s theme, "E-accessibility," the need to make the Internet available to everyone.

Annan stated, "The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which is expected to be approved by the General Assembly later this month, can give additional impetus to this [accessibility] trend. States that choose to become party to the Convention will thereby commit themselves to taking steps to provide ‘information intended for the general public to persons with disabilities in accessible formats and technologies appropriate to different kinds of disabilities in a timely manner and without additional cost’. The Convention urges private businesses and mass media to do the same with their services."

Professor Stein is available for telephone/e-mail interviews. He may be contacted at his office in Cambridge, Mass., at (617) 495-1726 (or mistein@law.harvard.edu).

The full text of the UN Convention may be found at: http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/enable/rights/ahcfinalrepe.htm