United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
You can read the Convention here
Update in brief
You can download the free poster 'Being Part of Scotland's Story under the UN Disability Convention'. Contact the Commission if you would like a paper copy posted to you.
A joint response was submitted from the Commission and EHRC to a United Nations study on the human rights of disabled people.
The Commission gave evidence to the UK Parliament Joint Committee on Human Rights(JCHR) Inquiry into Independent Living in 2011. Written evidence has also been submitted. You can read both thewritten evidence submitted and an uncorrected transcript of the evidence given in person. There was also a joint response in response to additional questions from the JCHR from the Commission, the EHRC, the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission and the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland.
The Convention includes human rights across all areas of disabled people’s lives, for example:
disabled people have the right to make their own decisions in all areas of life, on the same basis as other people and there are duties to provide the support people need to exercise that capacity
decisions should only be made on behalf of disabled people where necessary, and with appropriate safeguards
disabled people should have real and effective access to justice (as participants in the justice system, as victims of crime or human rights abuses, as witnesses and on juries etc)
disabled people have the right to live independently and be included in the community (the right to choose where to live and who to live with and not to be unlawfully forced into a particular living arrangement)
disabled people have the right to personal mobility
disabled people also have the full range of economic, social and cultural rights – such as the right to adequate housing, or the right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health; as well as civil and political rights – such as the right to freedom from torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and the right to respect for private and family life, home and correspondence
In Scotland, the Scottish Human Rights Commission and the Equality and Human Rights Commission have been designated as independent bodies to promote, protect and monitor the implementation of the Convention.
There is information about previous participation events and opportunities to be involved in raising awareness of the UN Disability Convention on the participation page.
Government Focal Points
To comply with the Convention, the Scottish and UK Governments must identify focal points to coordinate action to implement the Convention across government. The Office for Disability Issues is the UK Government focal point. The Equality Unit is the Scottish Government focal point.
National independent mechanisms
The Convention requires that there should be a framework, including one or more independent mechanisms to promote, protect and monitor the implementation of the Convention. In Scotland, the Equality and Human Rights Commission and the Scottish Human Rights Commission jointly have this role.
UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
The Convention created the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (the Committee). The Committee is an international committee of independent experts whose role is to review the implementation of the Convention in all States which are parties, including the UK. The main tasks of the Committees are to review initial and periodic reports from States on their implementation, review individual communications under the Optional Protocol and to clarify what is required to comply with the Convention through authoritative guidance called “General Comments”. You can find out more about the Committee at this link
Optional Protocol to the Convention
The Optional Protocol to the Convention enables individuals and groups of individuals whose rights under the Convention may have been violated to submit a communication to the Committee once they have “exhausted domestic remedies” (pursued a complaint through the courts or other effective remedies in their country complained of). Where necessary the Committee may request interim measures (immediate steps to avoid or stop a violation) to avoid irreparable harm and it may also launch an inquiry into systematic abuses.
During each of these reviews by the UN Committee, anyone – including individuals and voluntary organizations as well as other members of civil society and national human rights institutions such as the Scottish Human Rights Commission – can submit additional information in the form of ‘parallel’ reports (sometimes called ‘shadow’ reports) to ensure that the Committee has a complete picture of law, policy and practice. Once the Committee has completed its review it will issue “concluding observations” on both positive aspects as aspects of concern.
The UK Office for Disability Issues, and the Equality Division of the Scottish Government in Scotland, are coordinating the UK state report to the UN Committee.
The Government has a duty to ensure that civil society, particularly disabled people and their representative organisations, are involved and participate fully in the monitoring process.
Find out more
There are many other resources and training opportunities related to the Convention. Here is a selection (each opens in a new window):
The Equality and Human Rights Commission has produced ‘ A Guide to the UN Disability Convention’, including a version of the guide in BSL and with subtitles: EHRC Guide to the Convention
Harvard University Law School Project on Disability has produced an easy read guide to the Convention: ‘We Have Rights’ (PDF)
Disability Action is a non-governmental organisation based in Belfast which runs training on the Convention: Training Guide
The United Nations has a series of resources on the Convention, available via its dedicated website: UN Convention website
UNICEF has also produced a guide to the Convention for children with disabilities: ‘It’s About Ability’ (PDF)