Work forum on implentation of the CRPD

20 May 2017

The Work Forum on the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) met in Brussels on 19 May. It brought together representatives of those responsible for implementing and monitoring the fulfillment of the Convention, both at the EU and national levels; these are Focal Points, Coordination Mechanisms and Monitoring Mechanisms. Civil society and disabled people's organisations also actively participated. The Work Forum aims at ensuring that the Convention is fully implemented. It allows to share experiences on its practical implementation and monitoring and to promote solutions to common challenges. It is organised by the European Commission and has been meeting annually since 2010. This year, it focused on the assessment of disability as well as the protection of persons with disabilities in humanitarian situations in Europe.

“(…) persons with disabilities continue to be subjected to outdated, purely medical model approaches to disability assessment which do not respect their dignity.” – Patrick Clarke, Vice-President of EDF.

Despite the recommendations of the CRPD to have a human rights based approach, assessments of disability are still predominantly based on a medical approach in many countries. Instead on focusing on the barriers people with disabilities have to face, it focuses on their impairments or functional capacity. Moreover, work capacity assessments are frequently used to exclude persons with disability from the work force instead of integrating them.

Gunta Anca, Vice-President of EDF, shared her personal experience: “The 1st part of my life was based on decisions made by doctors, not by myself…If I can’t go anywhere, it is not due to my disability but due to the lack of accessibility.”

Catalina Devandas, UN Special rapporteur on the Rights of persons with disabilities, called for the development of simpler instruments to facilitate access to social protection programs, including disability benefits and support services. Disability assessment should promote participation of persons with disabilities, not restrict them, and should also be respectful of privacy and dignity. The process should be voluntary and should respect the will of people with disabilities who do not wish to take part in it.

The Work Forum ended on a session on the protection of persons with disabilities in humanitarian situations, with accounts from Santha Rau Barriga from Human Rights Watch on the challenges faced by refugees with disabilities. The panel urged the EU to take actions to ensure their safety and recognition. Doing so means making sure persons with disabilities are identified as early as possible rather than during the personal interview in the asylum procedure. This is often when persons with disabilities are identified but it is very late in the process. Additionally, at a first stage; legal aid is neither free nor available.

“In every crisis, people with disabilities face the same challenges.” – Santha Rau Barriga, Director at HRW

Email this page
Subscribe to