The United Nations has formally acknowledged the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability on 20 December 2012 by the Royal Government of Cambodia and entered it into the UN database. Cambodia had signed the Convention and its Optional Protocol on October 01st, 2007. On August 10th, 2012, National Assembly of Cambodia agreed to ratify the Convention. After the ratification, the CRPD entered into force on 19 January 2013. However, lack of budget may hinder full implementation of the convention after it came into force.

The ratification is a welcome news to all DPOs in the region. Mr. Ngin Saorath, CDPO’s (Cambodian Disabled People Organization) Executive Director calls for the alignment of existing domestic laws and regulation with the CRPD. He hopes this will be one of many steps the government will take to fully realize the rights of persons with disabilities in Cambodia. CDPO is also one of the regional partners of AGENDA.

Cambodia, as a result of over three decades of violent turbulence from the 60s to the 80s, has one of the highest ratios of amputees in the world. It is estimated that there is one amputee for every 290 people (see this BBC news article from 2003 which is still relevant today: Link). Therefore disability right is a huge issue facing Cambodia. The ratification of the Convention will raise hopes that the lives of tens of thousands of people who are living with disabilities in Cambodia will be improved.

Many of the amputees in Cambodia are victims of landmines. Cambodia is still considered as one of the most heavily mined countries in the world (see: Link). The Cambodian government ratified the Anti-Personel Landmines Convention in 1997. Now, in light of the formal ratification of CRPD by the government, activists have begun calling the government to also ratify the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

Cambodia is the seventh country in Southeast Asia that ratified the CRPD after the Philippines, Thailand, Laos, Malaysia, Indonesia and Myanmar. The joining of Cambodia as a state party in the Convention may influence the rest of the region to pursue ratification of CRPD. Four more countries are yet to ratify, they are Brunei Darussalam, Singapore, Vietnam and Timor Leste. Brunei, Vietnam and Singapore have signed the Convention, with Singapore as the latest signatory, having signed it on 30 November 2012. Timor Leste is yet to sign the document.