On 13 December 2006, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution that established the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).
The Convention’s aim is to “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.”
Its main message is that persons with disabilities are entitled to the full spectrum of human rights and fundamental freedoms without discrimination. To that end, the Convention promotes the full participation of persons with disabilities in all spheres of life, challenging customs, stereotypes, prejudices, harmful practices and stigma relating to persons with disabilities.
In the 10 years since its adoption, the Convention has been one of the most quickly ratified of all the international human right treaties and, to date, more than 163 States and one regional organisation (the european Union) have ratified or acceded to the Convention. Yet huge challenges remain in achieving the full enjoyment of rights by all persons with disabilities.
The UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities monitors how countries that have ratified the Convention are doing by reviewing them regularly and issuing concrete recommendations on how violations can be tackled and rights upheld. The CRPD Committee has received about 85 initial reports from States parties, working actively to monitor national progress, and provide guidance and advice on stronger ways of implementing the Convention.
The CRPD is the first human rights treaty ratified in the 21st century, with the highest number of signatories in history to a UN Convention on its opening day. Most notably, it is also the first internationally legally binding instrument to specifically address the situation of persons with disabilities at a global level in an effort to promote, respect and fulfil their rights. Since its adoption at the General Assembly in December 2006, the Convention, through its articles, has raised awareness about disability as both a human and a development issue. It marks a paradigm shift, where persons with disabilities are no longer viewed as objects of charity but as active members of society, in charge of their own lives, with free and informed consent. The CRPD is the chief instrument that consolidates the efforts made by the United Nations to promote the equal rights and inclusion of persons with disabilities in all spheres of society.