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Introduction to the Committee

Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

The Committee is the body of 18 independent experts which monitors the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities by the States parties.

All States parties submit regular reports to the Committee on how the rights enshrined in the Convention are being implemented. States must report initially within two years of ratifying the Convention and, thereafter, every four years (Article 35 of the Convention).

The Committee examines each report and makes recommendations to strengthen the implementation of the Convention in that State. It forwards these recommendations, in the form of concluding observations, to the State party concerned.

The Optional Protocol (A/RES/61/106) which entered into force at the same time as the Convention, also allows the Committee to:

  1. Receive and examine individual complaints; and
  2. Undertake inquiries in the case of reliable evidence of grave and systematic violations of the Convention.

The Committee also publishes its interpretation of the content of human rights provisions, known as general comments, on thematic issues.

The Committee normally meets in Geneva and holds two sessions per year.

The work of the Committee

The Committee’s monitoring mandate is carried out on the basis of a new understanding of disability. According to the human rights model of disability, disability is a social construct. It is the barriers within society, rather than personal impairments, that exclude persons with disabilities.

Worldwide, there are an estimated 15% - or more than one billion people, who are persons with disabilities. The Committee has noted that the failure to understand and implement the human rights model of disability is a major cause of discrimination and exclusion of persons with disabilities in society.

Through its engagement and cooperation with States parties, the Committee advocates for the human rights of persons with disabilities, and provides States parties with recommendations to support the implementation of provisions enshrined in the Convention.

In its work, particularly its Concluding observations, general comments, Views on individual communications and inquiry findings, the Committee has clarified how States parties must understand and implement the human rights model of disability. This model does not allow the exclusion of persons with disabilities from the community or from any area of life for any reason.

The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed that States parties have not comprehensively implemented the Convention. Entrenched discrimination and inequality against persons with disabilities, together with persisting attitudinal, environmental and institutional barriers result in situations of vulnerability and risks for persons with disabilities.

The Committee has consistently highlighted that States parties must ensure that persons with disabilities and their organizations are included in all initiatives and decision-making processes that relate to persons with disabilities.