The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) is the first binding international human rights instrument to specifically address disability. Its aim is to “promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities, and to promote respect for their inherent dignity”.

The conclusion of a United Nations convention specifically for persons with disabilities, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), shifted the legal focus from obligation grounded in actual or perceived vulnerability, to a rights-based approach.

The CRPD provides a framework that was created by and for people with disabilities and can be used as a guide to achieving universal rights protection for people with disabilities.

Of particular relevance to the Mental Capacity Act 2005 and the Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act 2000 is Article 12 of the CRPD, which sets out the right to legal capacity on an equal basis with others.”

In a joint statement with Alzheimer’s Disease International in August 2016, CEO and Co-Founder of Dementia Alliance International, Kate Swaffer said,

“People with dementia have been campaigning for their human rights and the same access to support for their disabilities for many years, and through the global, national and local efforts of our members, and our many contributions at the WHO consultations on the Global Action Plan for Dementia, and increasing advocacy for proactive rehabilitation and disability support at the time of diagnosis, people with dementia will ultimately be afforded the same disability rights as all other people living with disabilities.”

In 2017, following representations by Dementia Alliance International and Alzheimer’s Disease International, the CRPD Committee has responded to their joint request to make it clear to Member States that persons with dementia and their care partners are fully included in the implementation of the CRPD on the same basis as those with other disabilities.

Through The Mental Capacity Act 2005, the Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act 2000 and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: The Basics 39Chambers states

“The CRPD is legally binding for all states that have signed and ratified, including the United Kingdom.

The real power and value of the CRPD, however, lies in the hands of individuals who choose to be agents of social change.

as does the House of Commons, House of Lords’ Joint Committee on Human Rights’ The Right to Freedom and Safety: Reform of the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards

“21. The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), aims to
protect the rights of people who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual, or sensory
impairments. The UK has ratified this Convention (making it binding in international
law), but it has not been incorporated into domestic law.”

The UK ratified and became a State Party to the UN Convention in 2009. As a binding international legal instrument, this requires the UK to adhere to the obligations contained within the UN Convention, and to implement the requirements of the Convention in good faith.

Article 26 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties states “every treaty in force is
binding upon the parties to it and must be performed by them in good faith”. This is the
internationally recognised principle of pacta sunt servanda (treaties shall be complied with), a principle of international law that underlies the system of treaty-based relations between sovereign States.

“Following representations by Dementia Alliance International and Alzheimer’s Disease International, the CRPD Committee has responded to our joint request to make it clear to Member States that persons with dementia and their care partners are fully included in the implementation of the CRPD on the same basis as those with other disabilities.

In 2017, dementia has been specifically mentioned in the review process on Canada and in a Parallel Report submitted by Disability Rights UK in the ongoing review of the UK government. Dementia is now described in UN documents as a cognitive disability.”  World Health Organisation Adopts Global Action Plan on Dementia.

In August 2017, the UK’s progress against the convention was reviewed by a group of international experts in Geneva, called the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The committee monitors how well the convention is being put into practice through reviews that take place about every four years.”

You can see if your country has signed and confirmed the optional protocol here.

This UN CRPD is a complicated subject, which has varying levels of implementation worldwide nevertheless it is an instrument that can be used to fight injustices and inequalities.

In November 2018, the UK is the subject of a special investigation by the UN into poverty and disability and it will be interesting the effects of the outcome of that investigation with regard to the UN CRPD, Domestic legislation, regulation and Healthcare.


Resources

It is important to know about the CRPD and what your rights are. Below is some general information about the UN CRPD. It is not definitive or a form of legal advice.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)

The UN’s recommendations for the UK

EU Framework for the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

World Health Organisation Adopts Global Action Plan on Dementia

What the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland says

The UK Equality Commission has and easy read booklet

Implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in England and Wales

Information about the US ratification

Australian Attorney Generals Office

International Disability Alliance – Guidance Document

Understanding The UN Convention On The Rights Of Persons with Disabilities

Disability in a Human Rights Context

Harnessing the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to improve the lives of persons with dementia.

The CRPD Optional Protocol is a mechanism whereby individuals or groups may make representation to the UN CRPD committee about issues around the CRPD.

 

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