What is the CRPD?
The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) identifies the rights of persons with disabilities as well as the obligations on States parties to the Convention to promote, protect and ensure those rights. The CRPD is a United Nations Treaty, which is an express agreement under international law entered into freely by sovereign states and international organizations to legally bind themselves to the principals, duties and obligations under the CRPD. The CRPD is grounded in a broad human rights framework based on the United Nations Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, international covenants on human rights and other human rights instruments.
In 1999, just over 10 years before the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disables (CRPD) entered into force, the RI Governing Assembly unanimously called to revived efforts to establish the UN CRPD. In 2000 and 2001 RI officers presented the RI Charter for the Third Millennium to nearly 100 national and international leaders, calling for a UN CRPD. From 2001- 2006 RI took an active and lead role in the five-year negotiations and drafting of the UN CRPD, including attending ad-hoc meetings, joining with other disability rights groups to form the International Disability Alliance (IDA), holding regional conferences and summits, running advocacy campaigns, producing written news reports and publications, speaking at key events, and meeting with critical leadership within the UN among other efforts.
On December 13,2006 the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and its Optional Protocol was adopted at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. The Convention became open for signature on March 30,2007, and on this date received the highest number of signatures in history to a UN Convention with 82 signatories to the Convention, 44 signatories to the Optional Protocol, and 1 ratification to the Convention. It is the first comprehensive human rights treaty of the 21st century and is the first human rights convention to be open for signature by regional integration organizations. On May 3 2008 the Convention entered into force.
The CRPD marks a “paradigm shift” in attitudes and approaches to persons with disabilities. Persons with disabilities are not longer treated or viewed as “objects” of charity in need of social protection but are “subjects” with rights, who are capable of claiming those rights and making decisions for their lives based on their free and informed consent as well as being active members of society.
According to Secretariat for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the Convention “is intended as a human rights instrument with an explicit, social development dimension. It adopts a broad categorization of persons with disabilities and reaffirms that all persons with all types of disabilities must enjoy all human rights and fundamental freedoms. It clarifies and qualifies how all categories of rights apply to persons with disabilities and identifies areas where adaptations have to be made for persons with disabilities to effectively exercise their rights and areas where their rights have been violated, and where protection of rights must be reinforced.” (http://www.un.org/disabilities/default.asp?id=17)
In an address given by RI Secretary General Venus Ilagan at RI’s National Conference on implementation of the CRPD in Buenos Aries, Argentina, the Secretary General stated the following with regard to the CRPD:
The CRPD has put disability rights on the radar of the UN, and has created awareness among States that they need to address the issues facing PWD. With this Convention State officials are realizing that a large portion of their constituents have not been considered in State programming, and that the CPRD marks a new era of human rights as it is the first time the rights of PWD have been set out in an internationally binding treaty. The importance of this treaty is in the obligations it has created for States to enforce and protect the rights of PWD by calling on states to overcome social, legal, environmental and political conditions that act as barriers to full implementation of rights of PWD. The rights based approach of the CRPD has five guiding principals:
1. Linkage: creating a clear link from disability rights to human rights; talking about disability in the accepted language of human rights.
2. Accountability: of both right holders and those who are responsible for ensuring these rights (States).
3. Empowerment: persons with disabilities are not passive recipients of charity but can claim and enjoy their human rights on an equal basis with others.
4. Participation: requires the participation of PWD in all decision making that effects their rights.
5. Non-discrimination: calls upon States to put in safeguards against discrimination of PWD.