Category: UNCRPD

Article 21 – Freedom of expression and opinion, and access to information

Article 21 – Freedom of expression and opinion, and access to information

  States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure that persons with disabilities can exercise the right to freedom of expression and opinion, including the freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas on an equal basis with others and through all forms of communication of their choice, as defined in article 2 of the present Convention, including by:

a) Providing information intended for the general public to persons with disabilities in accessible formats and technologies appropriate to different kinds of disabilities in a timely manner and without additional cost;

b) Accepting and facilitating the use of sign languages, Braille, augmentative and alternative communication, and all other accessible means, modes and formats of communication of their choice by persons with disabilities in official interactions;

c) Urging private entities that provide services to the general public, including through the Internet, to provide information and services in accessible and usable formats for persons with disabilities;

d) Encouraging the mass media, including providers of information through the Internet, to make their services accessible to persons with disabilities;

e) Recognizing and promoting the use of sign languages.

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.

 

Article 30 – United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Article 30 reaffirms that States Parties recognize the right of persons with disabilities to take part on an equal basis with others in cultural life, and shall take all appropriate measures to ensure that persons with disabilities:

a) Enjoy access to cultural materials in accessible formats;

b) Enjoy access to television programmes, films, theatre and other cultural activities, in accessible formats;

c) Enjoy access to places for cultural performances or services, such as theatres, museums, cinemas, libraries and tourism services, and, as far as possible, enjoy access to monuments and sites of national cultural importance.

2. States Parties shall take appropriate measures to enable persons with disabilities to have the opportunity to develop and utilize their creative, artistic and intellectual potential, not only for their own benefit, but also for the enrichment of society.

3. States Parties shall take all appropriate steps, in accordance with international law, to ensure that laws protecting intellectual property rights do not constitute an unreasonable or discriminatory barrier to access by persons with disabilities to cultural materials.

4. Persons with disabilities shall be entitled, on an equal basis with others, to recognition and support of their specific cultural and linguistic identity, including sign languages and deaf culture.

5. With a view to enabling persons with disabilities to participate on an equal basis with others in recreational, leisure and sporting activities, States Parties shall take appropriate measures:

a) To encourage and promote the participation, to the fullest extent possible, of persons with disabilities in mainstream sporting activities at all levels;

b) To ensure that persons with disabilities have an opportunity to organize, develop and participate in disability-specific sporting and recreational activities and, to this end, encourage the provision, on an equal basis with others, of appropriate instruction, training and resources;

c) To ensure that persons with disabilities have access to sporting, recreational and tourism venues;

d) To ensure that children with disabilities have equal access with other children to participation in play, recreation and leisure and sporting activities, including those activities in the school system;

(e) To ensure that persons with disabilities have access to services from those involved in the organization of recreational, tourism, leisure and sporting activities.

Article 29 – United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Article 29 reaffirms that States Parties shall guarantee to persons with disabilities political rights and the opportunity to enjoy them on an equal basis with others, and shall undertake:

a) To ensure that persons with disabilities can effectively and fully participate in political and public life on an equal basis with others, directly or through freely chosen representatives, including the right and opportunity for persons with disabilities to vote and be elected, inter alia, by:

i. Ensuring that voting procedures, facilities and materials are appropriate, accessible and easy to understand and use;

ii. Protecting the right of persons with disabilities to vote by secret ballot in elections and public referendums without intimidation, and to stand for elections, to effectively hold office and perform all public functions at all levels of government, facilitating the use of assistive and new technologies where appropriate;

iii. Guaranteeing the free expression of the will of persons with disabilities as electors and to this end, where necessary, at their request, allowing assistance in voting by a person of their own choice;

b) To promote actively an environment in which persons with disabilities can effectively and fully participate in the conduct of public affairs, without discrimination and on an equal basis with others, and encourage their participation in public affairs, including:

i. Participation in non-governmental organizations and associations concerned with the public and political life of the country, and in the activities and administration of political parties;

ii. Forming and joining organizations of persons with disabilities to represent persons with disabilities at international, national, regional and local levels.

Article 28 – United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Article 28 reaffirms that States Parties recognize the right of persons with disabilities to an adequate standard of living for themselves and their families, including adequate food, clothing and housing, and to the continuous improvement of living conditions, and shall take appropriate steps to safeguard and promote the realization of this right without discrimination on the basis of disability.

2. States Parties recognize the right of persons with disabilities to social protection and      to the enjoyment of that right without discrimination on the basis of disability, and            shall take appropriate steps to safeguard and promote the realization of this right,              including measures:

a) To ensure equal access by persons with disabilities to clean water services, and to         ensure access to appropriate and affordable services, devices and other assistance for       disability-related needs;

b) To ensure access by persons with disabilities, in particular women and girls with           disabilities and older persons with disabilities, to social protection programmes and         poverty reduction programmes;

c) To ensure access by persons with disabilities and their families living in situations of     poverty to assistance from the State with disability-related expenses, including                   adequate training, counselling, financial assistance and respite care;

d) To ensure access by persons with disabilities to public housing programmes;

e) To ensure equal access by persons with disabilities to retirement benefits and                 programmes.

State obligations in international law related to the right to an adequate standard of living for persons with disabilities

“Article 28 confirms the rights to an adequate standard of living and social protection and then goes about providing some indication as to the meaning of those rights. In other words, the Article mentions measures that would contribute to the realisation of the rights in question. However, the precise scope and content of these rights have not yet been clarified since no extensive research has been undertaken in this regard. What follows will thus be an attempt to expand upon the meaning of the right to social protection and the right to an adequate standard of living and, importantly, to determine the obligations created by Article 28 for States Parties.”

Article 27 – United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Article 27 reaffirms that States Parties recognize the right of persons with disabilities to work, on an equal basis with others; this includes the right to the opportunity to gain a living by work freely chosen or accepted in a labour market and work environment that is open, inclusive and accessible to persons with disabilities. States Parties shall safeguard and promote the realization of the right to work, including for those who acquire a disability during the course of employment, by taking appropriate steps, including through legislation, to, inter alia:

a) Prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability with regard to all matters concerning all forms of employment, including conditions of recruitment, hiring and employment, continuance of employment, career advancement and safe and healthy working conditions;

b) Protect the rights of persons with disabilities, on an equal basis with others, to just and favourable conditions of work, including equal opportunities and equal remuneration for work of equal value, safe and healthy working conditions, including protection from harassment, and the redress of grievances;

c) Ensure that persons with disabilities are able to exercise their labour and trade union rights on an equal basis with others;

d) Enable persons with disabilities to have effective access to general technical and vocational guidance programmes, placement services and vocational and continuing training;

e) Promote employment opportunities and career advancement for persons with disabilities in the labour market, as well as assistance in finding, obtaining, maintaining and returning to employment;

f) Promote opportunities for self-employment, entrepreneurship, the development of cooperatives and starting one’s own business;

g) Employ persons with disabilities in the public sector;

h) Promote the employment of persons with disabilities in the private sector through appropriate policies and measures, which may include affirmative action programmes, incentives and other measures;

i) Ensure that reasonable accommodation is provided to persons with disabilities in the workplace;

j) Promote the acquisition by persons with disabilities of work experience in the open labour market;

k) Promote vocational and professional rehabilitation, job retention and return-to-work programmes for persons with disabilities.

2. States Parties shall ensure that persons with disabilities are not held in slavery or in servitude, and are protected, on an equal basis with others, from forced or compulsory labour.

Article 26 – United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Article 26 of the Convention affirms that “States Parties shall take effective and appropriate measures, including through peer support, to enable persons with disabilities to attain and maintain maximum independence, full physical, mental, social and vocational ability, and full inclusion and participation in all aspects of life. To that end, States Parties shall organize, strengthen and extend comprehensive habilitation and rehabilitation services and programmes, particularly in the areas of health, employment, education and social services, in such a way that these services and programmes:

  1. Begin at the earliest possible stage, and are based on the multidisciplinary assessment of individual needs and strengths;
  2. Support participation and inclusion in the community and all aspects of society, are voluntary, and are available to persons with disabilities as close as possible to their own communities, including in rural areas.
  3. States Parties shall promote the development of initial and continuing training for professionals and staff working in habilitation and rehabilitation service.
  4. States Parties shall promote the availability, knowledge and use of assistive devices and technologies, designed for persons with disabilities, as they relate to habilitation and rehabilitation.

Article 25 – United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Article 25 reaffirms that States Parties recognize that persons with disabilities have the right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health without discrimination on the basis of disability. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure access for persons with disabilities to health services that are gender-sensitive, including health-related rehabilitation. In particular, States Parties shall:

a) Provide persons with disabilities with the same range, quality and standard of free       or affordable health care and programmes as provided to other persons, including in       the area of sexual and reproductive health and population-based public health                   programmes;

b) Provide those health services needed by persons with disabilities specifically                   because of their disabilities, including early identification and intervention as                     appropriate, and services designed to minimize and prevent further disabilities,                 including among children and older persons;

c) Provide these health services as close as possible to people’s own communities,               including in rural areas;

d) Require health professionals to provide care of the same quality to persons with             disabilities as to others, including on the basis of free and informed consent by, inter         alia, raising awareness of the human rights, dignity, autonomy and needs of persons         with disabilities through training and the promulgation of ethical standards for public     and private health care;

e) Prohibit discrimination against persons with disabilities in the provision of health         insurance, and life insurance where such insurance is permitted by national law,               which shall be provided in a fair and reasonable manner;

f) Prevent discriminatory denial of health care or health services or food and fluids on     the basis of disability.

Article 23 – United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Article 23 reaffirms that States Parties shall take effective and appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against persons with disabilities in all matters relating to marriage, family, parenthood and relationships, on an equal basis with others, so as to ensure that:

a) The right of all persons with disabilities who are of marriageable age to marry and        to found a family on the basis of free and full consent of the intending spouses is                recognized;

b) The rights of persons with disabilities to decide freely and responsibly on the                  number and spacing of their children and to have access to age-appropriate                        information, reproductive and family planning education are recognized, and the              means necessary to enable them to exercise these rights are provided;

c) Persons with disabilities, including children, retain their fertility on an equal basis         with others.

2. States Parties shall ensure the rights and responsibilities of persons with disabilities,     with regard to guardianship, wardship, trusteeship, adoption of children or similar           institutions, where these concepts exist in national legislation; in all cases the best             interests of the child shall be paramount. States Parties shall render appropriate                 assistance to persons with disabilities in the performance of their child-rearing                   responsibilities.

3. States Parties shall ensure that children with disabilities have equal rights with               respect to family life. With a view to realizing these rights, and to prevent                             concealment,  abandonment, neglect and segregation of children with disabilities,             States Parties shall undertake to provide early and comprehensive information,                 services and support to children with disabilities and their families.

4. States Parties shall ensure that a child shall not be separated from his or her parents     against their will, except when competent authorities subject to judicial review                   determine, in accordance with applicable law and procedures, that such separation is       necessary for the best interests of the child. In no case shall a child be separated from       parents on the basis of a disability of either the child or one or both of the parents.

5. States Parties shall, where the immediate family is unable to care for a child with           disabilities, undertake every effort to provide alternative care within the wider family,     and failing that, within the community in a family setting.

Article 20 – United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Article 20 reaffirms that States Parties shall take effective measures to ensure personal mobility with the greatest possible independence for persons with disabilities, including by:

a) Facilitating the personal mobility of persons with disabilities in the manner and at        the time of their choice, and at affordable cost;

b) Facilitating access by persons with disabilities to quality mobility aids, devices,              assistive technologies and forms of live assistance and intermediaries, including by            making them available at affordable cost;

c) Providing training in mobility skills to persons with disabilities and to specialist              staff working with persons with disabilities;

d) Encouraging entities that produce mobility aids, devices and assistive technologies        to take into account all aspects of mobility for persons with disabilities.