Disability Convention (CRPD)

The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is the first legally binding document that protects, promotes and ensures the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities.

Why is the Convention such an important instrument?

  1. It is the first international Human Rights legally binding document specifically protecting the rights of persons with disabilities. This means that governments are legally required to follow this document, by adopting a single set of binding norms and by creating a specific body to monitor respect for their human rights.
  2. It is the first time in history that civil society participated so actively in the negotiations of a Convention. Over 5 years and 8 Ad Hoc Committee meetings, governments and civil society came together to negotiate the CRPD. By the last Ad Hoc Committee meeting, more than 800 civil society representatives were engaged in the dialogue and negotiating process. Inclusion International was an active participant in developing and negotiating the CRPD.
  3. As of January 2011, 110 countries had ratified the CRPD and 153 had signed indicating their intention to ratify. The Convention was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 13 December 2006 and entered into force on 3 May 2008, after the 20th ratification.
  4. It is the first Human Rights Convention that has been ratified by the European Union, as a regional entity. The European Union is State party to the CRPD.
  5. The UN CRPD does not establish new rights for people with disabilities but does introduce new concepts for rights to become reality. The Convention essentially protects people with disabilities against discrimination – in this way the Convention does not include new rights but identifies the specific actions that States must take to protect against discrimination on the basis of disability. This is why the Convention is both a policy development and a human rights instrument, which is cross-disability and cross-sectoral.
  6. The CRPD embraces a Human rights based approach of disability. It represented a clear move from an approach where persons with disabilities were considered objects of charity, social protection and medical treatment to subjects of human rights, able to make decisions about life and the future and claim rights on their own behalf.
  7. The Convention defines disability as an evolving and open concept which is characterised by the lack of inclusion and accessibility of the society and not by the impairments of the person: ‘Disability is an evolving concept, and that disability results from the interaction between persons with impairments and attitudinal and environmental barriers that hinders full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others’.
  8. Participation of civil society, in particular persons with disabilities and their representative organisations is a general principle that runs throughout the Convention and a self standing right, based on the principle of the slogan “Nothing about us without us”.
  9. The CRPD protects people with disabilities against direct discrimination –in law or in fact (for example, refusal to admit a child with disability into a school on the basis of the disability) and indirect discrimination – it means that it protects against measures that appear not to make any distinctions but in reality, when applied to two people in different circumstances (for example a person with disabilities and a person without disabilities), discrimination occurs.
  10. At the same time as the Convention itself, an optional protocol to the Convention has been adopted. The optional protocol adds additional provisions, which are not part of the Convention itself. Any disabled person living in a country that has ratified the protocol may bring a human rights problem to the attention of the United Nations. An individual or a group of individuals can submit a complaint. This is important, because when applied to a person’s real-life situation, the standards contained in international human rights treaties find their most direct and practical application.

The Working Group on Human Rights and Non-discrimination took the initiative to prepare an Action Plan, which offers a brief description of the necessary steps to undertake to ratify the Convention. It can be used as a “tool-kit”, and it also serves as a starting point for discussion and exchange among members of Inclusion about similar questions and problems regarding translation, ratification and implementation of the Convention. It also speaks about the ratification of the optional protocol, which has to be signed and ratified, according to the same rules as the Convention.

Key articles of the UNCRPD:

All the rights enshrined in the CRPD are very important. The following articles are policy priorities of Inclusion Europe for people with intellectual disabilities and their families:

  • Art. 5 – non-discrimination
  • Art. 12 – legal capacity (together with Art.13 – access to justice)
  • Art. 19 – living in the community
  • Art. 24 – education
  • Art. 29 – right to vote
  • Art. 9/21 – accessibility and access to information
  • Art. 27 – work and employment
  • The status of family members

You will find information about objectives and activities related to these priorities under the section Policies of this website.