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International standards

OHCHR and the rights of persons with disabilities

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) represents the most advanced international human rights instrument on the rights of persons with disabilities in terms of the scope and depth. As such, it supersedes previous international and regional developments, standards and instruments.

The CRPD provides standards of protection for the civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights of persons with disabilities on the basis of inclusion, equality and non-discrimination. It makes clear that persons with disabilities are entitled to live independently in their communities, to make their own choices and to play an active role in society. The CRPD innovates the standard approach taken in previous human rights treaties. By incorporating key provisions on international cooperation, data collection and disaggregation, awareness-raising and mechanisms for national implementation and monitoring, this facilitates policymaking and mobilization to effectively realize the rights of persons with disabilities.

The Optional Protocol to the Convention came into force at the same time as the Convention. It gives the CRPD Committee the capacity to accept and examine complaints filed by individuals, and where there is evidence of grave and systemic violations of human rights, it can launch inquiries. The Convention and its Optional Protocol received immediate and wide support from the international community. Their adoption has been welcomed as evidence of a concrete commitment to a truly inclusive and universal human rights framework.

Other international human rights instruments

All of the core human rights treaties apply to persons with disabilities. While most of those instruments do not have explicit references to persons with disabilities in their text, there has been increased attention to persons with disabilities in the work of all treaty bodies since the CRPD was adopted. Hence, many general comments/recommendations make references to persons with disabilities, including women, children and other groups of persons with disabilities, and concluding observations regularly include recommendations to States parties on measures needed to ensure the enjoyment and exercise of rights by persons with disabilities on an equal basis with others.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

The 2030 Agenda is grounded in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and international human rights treaties and makes clear that the Sustainable Development Goals cannot be achieved without respect for human rights.

While five goals and seven targets of the Sustainable Development Goals explicitly refer to persons with disabilities (Goal 4 on education, Goal 8 on employment, Goal 10 on reducing inequality, Goal 11 on Inclusive cities, and Goal 17 on data as a means of implementation), all of the Goals apply to persons with disabilities. The commitment of the SDGs to leave no one behind and to reach the furthest behind first means that persons with disabilities must be included and prioritized across all actions.

For more information: disability inclusive 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030

The Sendai Framework is a global agreement to reduce and prevent disaster risks. It recognises that persons with disabilities and their organizations have a critical role to play at all stages of disaster risk reduction planning and requires all disaster risk reduction policies to integrate a disability perspective.

The Charter on Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action

The Charter represents a commitment to render humanitarian action inclusive of persons with disabilities based on five principles: non-discrimination; participation; inclusive policy; inclusive response and services; cooperation and coordination. The Charter was developed at the World Humanitarian Summit in 2016 and was endorsed by over 70 stakeholders from States, UN agencies, the international civil society community and global, regional and national organisations of persons with disabilities. This Charter is open for endorsement by States and governments, UN agencies, organisations involved in humanitarian contexts and organisations of persons with disabilities.

Security Council Resolution 2475 (2019)

On 20 June 2019, the Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2475 (2019), its first-ever resolution calling upon Member States and parties to armed conflict to protect persons with disabilities in conflict situations and to ensure they have access to justice, basic services and unimpeded humanitarian assistance.

Related to humanitarian action, the UN Inter-Agency Standing Committee developed Guidelines on the Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action, launched in 2019, which set out essential actions that humanitarian actors must take in order to effectively identify and respond to the needs and rights of persons with disabilities who are most at risk of being left behind in humanitarian settings. The IASC Guidelines are a result of an inclusive consultative process, involving more than 600 stakeholders from the humanitarian and disability sectors, including many organizations of persons with disabilities from around the world and UN entities, including OHCHR.