The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) sets out what human rights mean in the context of disability. The first human rights treaty of the twenty-first century, it represents a major step towards realising the right of disabled people to be treated as full and equal citizens.
By ratifying CRPD in 2009, the UK is committed to promoting and protecting the full enjoyment of human rights by disabled people and ensuring they have full equality under the law. The Convention covers a wide range of areas including:
- access to justice
- personal security
- independent living, and
- access to information.
CRPD work by the Commission
A report by the UK Independent Mechanism (UKIM: made up of ourselves, the Scottish Human Rights Commission, the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission and the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland) to the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (February 2017):
The constituent members of UKIM have also produced supplementary reports relating to England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, with additional suggested questions about problems affecting disabled people in each country:
- England supplementary submission (PDF) I Word version
- Wales supplementary submission (PDF) I Word version | Welsh language version (Word)
- Scotland supplementary submission (PDF) I Word version
- Northern Ireland supplementary submission (PDF) I Word version
Accessible versions are also available:
We have also produced the following material related to this treaty.
Letter to the Minister of State for Disabled People in response to the CRPD Committee inquiry (Word) (December 2016) with attached annex outlining key concerns (Word)
Read the CRPD Committee's inquiry report on the UK and the UK government’s response
Letter from Minister of State for Disabled People in response (PDF) (January 2017)
- Crime and disabled people report (September 2016)
The Commission has published a guide (2010) to help disabled people know what their rights are under the Convention and how to use them.
The Commission is chair of the CRPD Working Group of the European Network of National Human Rights Institutions (ENNHRI). One of the Group’s main aims is to support international cooperation on promoting, protecting and monitoring the implementation of the Convention.
The Commission's Disability Committee is a statutory committee (meaning it was set up by an Act of Parliament), with duties to promote equality and human rights in respect of ‘disability matters’. The Committee supports the Commission in monitoring and reporting on CRPD.
The UK’s CRPD examination process takes place in 2017.
The UK Independent Mechanism on CRPD published a report on the progress made in putting CRPD rights into practice in December 2014. It included a list of questions they recommended that the CRPD Committee ask the government highlighting issues for the UK. These include:
- to explain the initiatives that have been taken to reduce the number of disabled children living in poverty
- to explain how the effectiveness of the safeguards, which are in place to protect disabled people from financial abuse, are monitored
- to set out the steps taken to safeguard disabled people in health and social care settings
- to detail the initiatives taken to address disability-related harassment and bullying in schools
- to explain what steps it has taken to assess the overall, cumulative impact of welfare reform, changes to social care funding and eligibility criteria and the closure of the Independent Living Fund on disabled people
CRPD is monitored by the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, a body made up of 18 independent experts. The Committee members are nominated by states that have ratified CRPD.
States send an initial report to the Committee after they ratify the treaty and then provide progress reports every four years. These ‘State Reports’ set out the laws and policies put in place to implement CRPD and their impact on the rights of disabled people.
See the UK’s initial State Report (May 2011).
States that ratify CRPD have to use an independent process to ensure the Convention is properly implemented (referred to as an ‘independent mechanism’). The Commission is a member of the UK’s independent mechanism, alongside the Scottish Human Rights Commission, the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission and the Northern Ireland Equality Commission.
In November 2014, the UK’s independent mechanism published a report on the progress made in putting CRPD rights into practice in the UK. It also explains how you can get involved in monitoring and reporting on CRPD implementation.
The UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities examines each State Report. The first stage is to gather information from a range of sources to identify a ‘list of issues’ to raise with the government concerned. As part of the UK’s independent mechanism on CRPD, the Commission can submit a report to this process. This is known as a ‘shadow report’. Civil society organisations can also submit ‘shadow reports’ and the Commission supports civil society to understand and use the treaties to improve government accountability.
The Committee publishes a report of its examination of the State Report and any shadow reports with recommendations for action. This is known as the ‘Concluding Observations’. States must publish these recommendations, act on them and report on progress in their next State Report.
In December 2014, the UN Human Rights Council created the role of UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of disabled people.
Part of this role is to report annually to the UN Human Rights Council and General Assembly with recommendations on how to better promote and protect the rights of disabled people. The Special Rapporteur focused her first report on the right to social security. The report was published in October 2015. The Commission contributed to this study with an analysis of the UK’s approach.
The Special Rapporteur’s second study looked at disabled people’s right to participate in decision making. The report was published in March 2016. The Commission’s response focused on disabled people’s right to participate in political life.
In April 2016, the Special Rapporteur called for evidence to contribute to a new study on disability-inclusive policies. The report will be published in October 2016. The Commission submitted a response relating to England and Wales and a response relating to Scotland, which was put together jointly with the Scottish Human Rights Commission.
The Committee sometimes issues general comments which explain the application of the treaty in particular situations. You can find these recommendations on the UN website.
The UK Government has also ratified the Convention's Optional Protocol. This means that disabled people can complain to the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities if they feel their Convention rights have been breached, and they have exhausted other means of getting justice via the British courts. It also means the Committee can investigate allegations of serious or systematic violations of Convention rights.
Last updated: 22 Mar 2017