What is in the Convention

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is the first treaty to specially address the human rights of people with disabilities. This landmark agreement recognizes and protects the human rights of some 650 million people with disabilities worldwide. The CRPD contains human rights found in other conventions and also shows how these rights specifically apply within the context of disability. Civil, political, social, economic and cultural rights are all included.

The intent of the Convention is to “promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities, and to promote respect for their inherent dignity” (Article 1).

The CRPD recognizes not only the inherent dignity of people with disabilities but also their autonomy, including their ability to make their own choices, independence as people, differences as part of human diversity, and equality between men and women.

The treaty emphasizes the need for the full participation and inclusion of people with disabilities in society. Societies must change so people with disabilities can enjoy their rights. Countries must prohibit discrimination against people with disabilities, ensure their equality, and make their environments accessible.

The CRPD is a comprehensive human rights treaty with 50 articles that relate to all areas of life. These include, among others, rights to:

  • Education (Article 24).
  • Health (Article 25).
  • Work and employment (Article 27).

Before the drafting process it was decided that the Convention would not create new human rights. Some rights, however, have been adapted to meet the needs of people with disabilities. Notable examples include living independently and being included in the community (Article 19) which is necessary for the right to liberty and supports deinstitutionalization.

An important and related right is equal recognition before the law (Article 12), which “reaffirm[s] that persons with disabilities have the right to recognition everywhere as persons before the law” and “that persons with disabilities enjoy legal capacity.” This article will also assist people with disabilities to live independently and have autonomy.

All human rights are interrelated and interdependent. For instance, if you can not go to school, you will likely have difficulty getting a job. Some CRPD articles affect all other articles and so are called articles of general application, such as Accessibility (Article 9).

In the past, governments may have thought they did not need to meet all of these responsibilities toward their citizens with disabilities. Excluding children with disabilities from attending school, for example, may have been viewed as acceptable. The Convention obligates governments to respect, protect, promote, and fulfill these human rights. The CRPD commits countries to upholding all of the human rights that it contains, not just some of their own choosing.

Resource limitations will be a challenge faced by governments implementing the Convention. An article on International Cooperation (Article 32) addresses this issue by requiring international development assistance to be inclusive of persons with disabilities and accessible to them.

The Convention establishes rights, but it does not include comprehensive standards. Governments need to develop standards with people with disabilities, their representative organizations, and other members of civil society.

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