The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) is an international treaty adopted by the 61st session of the United Nations General Assembly on 13 December 2006. It is the first human rights treaty of the 21st century and one of the fastest growing treaties in history. It is also the first human rights treaty to be open for signature by regional integration organizations. In addition, the CRPD is the fastest negotiated human rights treaty. It was negotiated during eight sessions of an Ad Hoc Committee of the General Assembly from 2002 – 2006.
In accordance with CRPD Article 42, the Convention and its Optional Protocol opened for signature by all States on 30 March 2007. It entered into force on 3 May 2008. As of July 2016, 166 countries have ratified the CRPD and 160 countries have signed the Convention.
The Convention follows decades of work by the United Nations and the global disability community to change attitudes, perceptions and approaches to persons with disabilities. The Convention signifies a shift away from a ‘medical model’ approach of disability toward a ‘social model’ approach. This shift moves away from viewing persons with disabilities as “objects” of charity and toward “subjects” with rights who are capable of making decisions for their lives based on free and informed consent and being active members of society.
The CRPD is a human rights instrument with an explicit social development dimension. 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.
The Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is the body of independent experts which monitors implementation of the Convention by States Parties. All States Parties are obliged to submit regular reports to the Committee on how the CRPD is being implemented. States Parties must report initially within two years of accepting the Convention and every four years thereafter. The Committee examines each report and makes suggestions and general recommendations on the report as it may consider appropriate and then forwards these to the State Party concerned.
The Optional Protocol to the Convention gives the Committee competence to examine individual complaints with regard to alleged violations of the Convention by States Parties to the Protocol.