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European Union ratifies of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with a Disability

 
On  23 December  2010 the European Union (EU) ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with a Disability (CRPD) becoming the first intergovernmental organisation to join a United Nations human rights treaty.

The EU ratification (or "confirmation" in the wording of the CRPD) is based on article 42 of the CRPD which states that the Convention is also open for signature by regional integration organizations.

The EU first committed to joining the CRPD by signing it in March 2007.

The ratification of the CRPD by the EU represents a significant commitment to raising awareness on the rights of persons with disabilities mainstreaming disability rights across all areas of EU competency and taking concrete steps towards ensuring that the rights of persons with disabilities in society and development are respected, protected and fulfilled.

 EU Press Release:

EU ratifies UN Convention on disability rights

Following formal ratification, it is the first time in history the EU has become a party to an international human rights treaty – the United Nation's (UN) Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities. The Convention aims to ensure that people with disabilities can enjoy their rights on an equal basis with all other citizens. It is the first comprehensive human rights treaty to be ratified by the EU as a whole. It has also been signed by all 27 EU Member States and ratified by 16 of these (see Annex). The EU becomes the 97th party to this treaty. The Convention sets out minimum standards for protecting and safeguarding a full range of civil, political, social, and economic rights for people with disabilities. It reflects the EU's broader commitment to building a barrier-free Europe for the estimated 80 million people with disabilities in the EU by 2020, as set out in the European Commission's disability strategy (IP/10/1505).

"Good news for the new year and a milestone in the history of human rights as it is the first time ever that the EU becomes a party to an international human rights treaty. I would like to thank the Belgian Presidency for their excellent cooperation, which allowed the swift and successful conclusion of the ratification process," said European Commission Vice-President Viviane Reding, the EU's Justice Commissioner. "The UN Convention promotes and protects the human rights and fundamental freedoms of persons with disabilities. In November, the Commission presented an EU disability strategy for the next ten years: concrete measures with a concrete timeline to implement the UN Convention. I now call on all remaining Member States that have not yet ratified the Convention to do so swiftly. It is our collective responsibility to ensure that people with disabilities do not face additional obstacles in their everyday lives."

The EU signed the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities on its opening day for signature on 30 March 2007 (IP/07/446). It has since been signed by all 27 EU countries and a further 120 states worldwide. Following completion of the ratification procedure, the EU as a whole is now the first international organisation which has become a formal party to the Convention (as are 16 EU Member States too).

The Convention commits parties to making sure that people with disabilities fully can enjoy their rights on an equal basis with all other citizens (MEMO/10/198). For the EU, this means ensuring that all legislation, policies and programmes at EU level comply with the Convention's provisions on disability rights, within the limits of EU responsibilities. Ratifying countries, such as the EU Member States, should take action in the following areas: access to education, employment, transport, infrastructures and buildings open to the public, granting the right to vote, improving political participation and ensuring full legal capacity of all people with disabilities.

Parties that have ratified the Convention will need to periodically inform the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities about the measures taken to implement the Convention. The Committee, composed of independent experts, will highlight any shortcomings in the Convention’s implementation and make recommendations.

The EU's disability strategy for 2010-2020 focuses on empowering people with disabilities to enjoy their rights on an equal basis with others and on removing obstacles in everyday life. It also aims to help implement the provisions of the Convention in practice, both at EU and national level. The strategy complements and supports action by the Member States which have the main responsibility in disability policies.

Background

One in six people in the European Union – around 80 million – have a disability that ranges from mild to severe. Over one third of people aged over 75 have disabilities that restrict them to some extent. These numbers are set to rise as the EU population grows progressively older. Most of these people are all too often prevented from fully participating in society and the economy because of physical or other barriers, as well as discrimination.

Further information

UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: http://www.un.org/disabilities

Justice Directorate-General Newsroom: http://ec.europa.eu/justice/news/intro/news_intro_en.htm

Homepage of Viviane Reding, Commission Vice-President responsible for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship: http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/reding/index_en.htm

The following websites also provide useful information and updates:


The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

The United Nations (UN) has set up an international human rights convention on the rights of disabled people.

The UK was actively involved in setting up the convention.

A human rights convention is a piece of international law which sets out the duty of countries to protect human rights.

Once a country ratifies a convention, it formally agrees to do what the convention requires.

The UK ratified the convention on 8 June 2009 (and its optional protocol on 7 August 2010).


The UK was among the first 82 countries to sign the convention on 30 March 2007.

Since then, over 140 countries have signed the convention, with more than 80 having ratified.

By signing, states show their intention to proceed to ratification in due course.



The UN Convention on The Rights of Persons with Disabilities provides a recognised international standard for disabled people's human rights in one document.

This will help the international community to put pressure on countries whose work on disability rights could be improved.

Countries that ratify the convention will also have to report regularly to the UN about the steps they are taking to protect and promote disabled people's rights.


The full text of the convention can be viewed on the UN 'enable' website.

The site provides detailed information on the UN's work on disability rights.


United Nations 'enable' website (opens new window).

Most important in relation to the rights of autistic people in the UK is Article 4.3;

4.3- In the development and implementation of legislation and policies to implement the present Convention, and in other decision-making processes concerning issues relating to persons with disabilities, States Parties shall closely consult with and actively involve persons with disabilities, including children with disabilities, through their representative organizations.

This will help ARM UK and other organisations to put pressure on the UK governments and other state bodies.

It is, in effect, a re-phrasing of the essence of the Madrid Declaration – Nothing About Us Without Us!

Article 4 - General obligations

1. States Parties undertake to ensure and promote the full realization of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all persons with disabilities without discrimination of any kind on the basis of disability. To this end, States Parties undertake:

a. To adopt all appropriate legislative, administrative and other measures for the implementation of the rights recognized in the present Convention;

b. To take all appropriate measures, including legislation, to modify or abolish existing laws, regulations, customs and practices that constitute discrimination against persons with disabilities;

c. To take into account the protection and promotion of the human rights of persons with disabilities in all policies and programmes;

d. To refrain from engaging in any act or practice that is inconsistent with the present Convention and to ensure that public authorities and institutions act in conformity with the present Convention;

e. To take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination on the basis of disability by any person, organization or private enterprise;

f. To undertake or promote research and development of universally designed goods, services, equipment and facilities, as defined in article 2 of the present Convention, which should require the minimum possible adaptation and the least cost to meet the specific needs of a person with disabilities, to promote their availability and use, and to promote universal design in the development of standards and guidelines;

g. To undertake or promote research and development of, and to promote the availability and use of new technologies, including information and communications technologies, mobility aids, devices and assistive technologies, suitable for persons with disabilities, giving priority to technologies at an affordable cost;

h. To provide accessible information to persons with disabilities about mobility aids, devices and assistive technologies, including new technologies, as well as other forms of assistance, support services and facilities;

i. To promote the training of professionals and staff working with persons with disabilities in the rights recognized in this Convention so as to better provide the assistance and services guaranteed by those rights.

2. With regard to economic, social and cultural rights, each State Party undertakes to take measures to the maximum of its available resources and, where needed, within the framework of international cooperation, with a view to achieving progressively the full realization of these rights, without prejudice to those obligations contained in the present Convention that are immediately applicable according to international law.

3. In the development and implementation of legislation and policies to implement the present Convention, and in other decision-making processes concerning issues relating to persons with disabilities, States Parties shall closely consult with and actively involve persons with disabilities, including children with disabilities, through their representative organizations.

4. Nothing in the present Convention shall affect any provisions which are more conducive to the realization of the rights of persons with disabilities and which may be contained in the law of a State Party or international law in force for that State. There shall be no restriction upon or derogation from any of the human rights and fundamental freedoms recognized or existing in any State Party to the present Convention pursuant to law, conventions, regulation or custom on the pretext that the present Convention does not recognize such rights or freedoms or that it recognizes them to a lesser extent.

5. The provisions of the present Convention shall extend to all parts of federal states without any limitations or exceptions.

 

ARM UK, 08 August 2010

For the text of Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, use the link in the Links section

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