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The Convention followed decades of work by the United Nations to change attitudes and approaches to persons with disabilities. It takes to a new height the movement from viewing persons with disabilities as “objects” of charity, medical treatment and social protection towards viewing persons with disabilities as “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.

Adoption of the Convention

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol (A/RES/61/106) was adopted on 13 December 2006 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. It opened to signatures on 30th March 2007 and came into force on 3rd May 2008 following ratification by the 20th State party.

As of August 2021, the Convention had 183 State parties and was the first Human Rights Treaty to be ratified by a regional integration organization, the European Union.

The Convention 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 adaptation 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.

How does it protect people?

The Convention sets out 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.

The principles set out in the convention are:

  • Respect for dignity and individual autonomy;
  • Non-discrimination;
  • Participation and inclusion;
  • Respect for difference and diversity;
  • Accessibility;
  • Equality of opportunity;
  • Equality between men and women; and
  • Respect for the evolving capacities of children with disabilities.

The Convention is important because it:

  • Clarifies the rights of persons with disabilities;
  • Sets out responsibilities to respect those rights;
  • Requires a rights-based approach to disability;
  • Promotes inclusive and accessible development; and
  • Ensures national and international monitoring of rights.

Read the full text of the convention here.