Since 1922, Rehabilitation International and its worldwide member network have sought to protect the rights of people with disabilities through strong policies and legislation on the international, regional and national levels. One of its key achievements was the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).


The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), a United Nations Treaty adopted in 2006, identifies the rights of persons with disabilities, as well as the obligations on UN Member States to promote, protect and ensure those rights. Countries that join in the Convention commit to develop and carry out policies, laws and administrative measures for securing the rights recognized in the Convention and to abolish laws, regulations, customs and practices that constitute discrimination. Under the CRPD, which is grounded in a broad human rights framework based on the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, persons with disabilities have equal rights to education and work, as well as equal participation in political and public life, including the right to vote, to stand for elections and to hold office (Article 29).




Rehabilitation International’s Involvement

In 1999, the Rehabilitation International Governing Assembly unanimously called to revive efforts to establish the UN CRPD. From 2001 to 2006, RI Global took an active and lead role in the five-year negotiations and the drafting of the UN CRPD, including by attending ad-hoc meetings; joining with other disability rights groups to form the International Disability Alliance (IDA); holding regional conferences and summits; overseeing advocacy campaigns; producing written news reports and publications; speaking at key events; and meeting with critical leadership within the UN.


On December 13, 2006, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol were 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 for 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 the first human rights convention opened for signature by regional integration organizations. On May 3, 2008, the Convention entered into force.


Although as of February 2016, the CRPD has 160 signatories and 162 parties, including 161 states and the European Union, there remains much work to encourage its adoption and implementation. In December 2012, a vote in the United States Senate fell six votes short of the two-thirds majority required for ratification, leaving the U.S. as the sole developed country to have not adopted the CRPD.


RI Fact Sheet: CRPD