National Law and International Treaties

National law is the law that a country (State) makes for itself. It is distinct from the laws of other countries and can be either codified in statutes or interpreted by judges. Laws can be made by a parliament or by the executive or legislative branch of a government. In States with a common law tradition, laws could also come from decisions of the courts which are called case law.

There are a number of different ways in which a State can incorporate treaties and other international legal instruments into its national law. Some, like the United States, have constitutionally mandated that all ratified international conventions are automatically incorporated into domestic law without any further legislative action. Other methods, including some common-law States, require legislation in order to give effect to treaty obligations.

For the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to be fully implemented, it is essential that it be incorporated into both the legal system and the national consciousness. This will involve a clear and unequivocal legal statement of the rights and responsibilities of States parties, as well as detailed legislation to ensure that those rights are protected and enforced. In particular, States must prohibit discrimination against persons with disabilities and guarantee their equal protection and access to services in all areas of life. This might be done as part of a general prohibition on discrimination in national laws or, in some cases, through the incorporation of specific provisions relating to disability into constitutions and basic laws.

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Cape Town, South Africa