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UN Convention

The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is an international human rights treaty that reaffirms that all persons with disabilities must enjoy all human rights and fundamental freedoms. It clarifies that all disabled persons have the right to participate in civil, political, economic, social and cultural life of the community just as anyone else. The Convention clearly stipulates what public and private authorities must do to ensure and promote the full enjoyment of these rights by all disabled people.

The Optional Protocol to the Convention is an additional legal instrument that allows individuals or groups of individuals to complain to the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities about situations in which they feel discriminated against and in which their rights under the Convention are not respected.

The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was adopted in 2006 by the United Nations and became world’s most quickly ratified human rights treaty. To find the up to date ratifications and signatures of the Convention, visit the UN Enable website.


The Convention is the first international treaty that was negotiated with direct participation of its beneficiaries: persons with disabilities and their families. Many crucial provisions of the Convention that will determine the development of human rights policies for decades on, such as the recognition of full legal capacity, right to community living and to inclusive education, have been included thanks to uncompromising pressure of persons with disabilitiesorganised in global networks who were present at the negotiation table.

As a result, the Convention clearly explains that no decision concerning the rights of persons with disabilities is legitimate unless it is taken by persons with disabilities or with their active and meaningful involvement. The motto of the disability movement – “Nothing about us without us” – is applicable on all the rights of the Convention:

The Convention also provides for the establishment, following the rules adopted by the UN, of a national mechanism for independent and transparent monitoring of the country obligations under the Convention. Such mechanism, established by law, must have a very broad mandate to promote, protect and monitor the implementation of the rights protected under the Convention. The continuous monitoring by this body of the national human rights situation is an incentive for the government to take seriously the obligations undertaken when ratifying the Convention and show genuine progress in fulfilling them.


As of January 2015, 25 of the 28 EU Member States have ratified the Convention (except for Finland, the Netherlands and Ireland).

The European Union acceded to the Convention in December 2010, making it the first human rights treaty to ever have been ratified by a regional organisation, like the European Union. The EU is responsible for implementation of the Convention to the extent of its competences that are defined in Council Decision 2010/48/EC and the Code of Conduct between the Council, the Member States and the Commission setting out internal arrangements for the implementation by and representation of the European Union relating to the Convention.

By concluding the UN Convention, the EU is committed to ensure and promote the full realization of all human rights for all persons with disabilities through the adoption of new legislation, policies and programmes and the review of existing measures.


Since 2012, the European Union has set up a mechanism to monitor the implementation of the Convention, called the EU monitoring Framework. EDF is a full member and Chair of the EU Framework, together with the European Ombudsman, the European Agency of Fundamental Rights, the European Parliament and the European Commission.

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At the international level, the respect of the Convention rights is monitored by the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities . It is a body of eighteen independent experts who have been nominated by the countries that have ratified the Convention. The Committee members are elected for the period of either two or four years, and serve on the Committee in their individual capacity.

The principal task of the UN CRPD Committee is the review of the progress in implementation of the Convention. States Parties are obliged to submit to the Committee an initial report on measures taken to implement the Convention two years after the entry into force of the Convention. Thereafter, periodic reports must be submitted every four years. On the basis of the State reports, complemented with information from other sources, including the organizations of disabled people, the Committee assesses the country’s progress and issues concluding observations to the State Party.

As of January 2015, three European countries have been reviewed by the CRPD Committee –Spain, Hungary, Austria, Sweden, Belgium and Denmark. Other EU Member States pending for review by the UN CRPD Committee are, in the order submission of their reports are Germany, Czech Republic, Croatia and the United Kingdom.

The reports of States Parties and the alternative reports of the civil society organisations, along with the schedule of their review by the CRPD Committee are available on the website of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.


The EU has prepared and submitted its initial report to the UN Committee in June 2014. In 2015, the UN Committee will review the report and the work the EU has done for its citizens with disabilities.

In April 2015, the UN Committee will have a first internal discussion on the EU report and they will prepare a list of questions to send to the EU for issues that require further clarification. This list is called “list of issues”. After that, the EU will have to respond to this list of issues. In August 2015, the UN Committee will meet the EU and will thoroughly discuss the report and the answers on the list of issues. This is called “constructive dialogue”. As a result, the UN Committee will give its view on how efficiently the EU has implemented the Convention and will make recommendations for improvement. These are called “concluding observations”.

Image with the description of the process


Organisations of persons with disabilities (DPOs) have also the opportunity to participate in the reporting process. At the same time that state parties’ prepare their report to the UN Committee, DPOs can also prepare an alternative report presenting the situation of persons with disabilities and covering gaps of the state parties’ report.

By March 2015, EDF will also submit its alternative report to the UN Committee. EDF report is based on a broad consultation of its members, civil society and other stakeholders.

Thanks to its members, EDF will present to the UN Committee the views of the disability movement on the rights of persons with disabilities in Europe.

In April and August 2015, EDF will be in Geneva to defend its report and express to the UN Committee its main concerns on the implementation of the Convention by the EU.

Picture that describes the process in brief

Contact: An-Sofie Leenknecht | EDF Human Rights officer |