UN Convention on the Rights of Disabled People
What is the UN Convention on the Rights of Disabled People?
In every aspect of life disabled people have the same rights as others. These rights are implicitly covered by other human rights treaties.
However, disabled people’s rights can often be ignored, so the UN Convention on the Rights of Disabled People explicitly states what these rights are. The Convention then sets out what governments should do to promote and protect these rights.
The Convention establishes internationally recognised benchmarks for disabled people’s rights in all areas of life, such as:
- the right to not be discriminated against
- the right to education
- the right to employment
- the right to health
- the right to equal justice
- the right to participate in culture.
What ratification of the UN Convention means for the UK government
The UK government ratified the Convention in July 2009. By ratifying, government agreed to be bound by the Convention’s terms. That means that all UK government departments need to consider what the Convention says when developing a policy or programme that affects disabled people.
The Convention also expects government to involve disabled people in the development of policies that affect them.
Government will be held to account on what it does. In 2011 the UK must report to the United Nations about how the Convention is being implemented and what progress has been made. This will be a public document and UK performance will be judged by both an international and domestic audience.
The Optional Protocol to the UN Convention
The government has also ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention.
The Protocol allows individuals who feel that their Convention rights have not been met to complain to the United Nations. This can only be done after all other domestic routes have been exhausted.
When considering a complaint, the UN would expect information from the UK so that it can make a recommendation. Such recommendations are not legally binding, but would be made public. Government would have to decide how to respond to any recommendation.
About the language of the UN Convention
The Office for Disability Issues (ODI) supports use of the social model of disability within government. The Convention was drafted by an international Committee with differing approaches to disability, so the language does not reflect the model the UK government would prefer.
The full title of the convention is the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, but within the UK and on this website, it is often called the UN Convention on the Rights of Disabled People.
- The full text of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol on the UN Enable website
- Q&A and background on the UN Convention and Optional Protocol on the UN Enable website
- International agreement on the rights of disabled people (Easy Read) (PDF, 57 pages, 2.08 MB)
- Extra agreement under the international agreement on the rights of disabled people (Easy Read) (PDF, 11 pages, 640 KB)
- Implementing the UN Convention
- Equality Act and the Disability Discrimination Act
- Public Sector Equality Duty
- Disabled people and legislation
- About the social model of disability
Beyond the Office for Disability Issues
- UN Enable, the official site of the UN Convention on the Rights of Disabled People
- Government Equalities Office website
- Equalities and Human Rights Commission website
- Equality Commission for Northern Ireland website
- Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission website
- Scottish Human Rights Commission website
Page last reviewed: 30 March 2011