United Nations Convention for the Rights of People with Disabilities – a big year to have your say!

Ireland is due to submit its first progress report on how the State has fulfilled its obligations under the United Nations Convention for the Rights of People with Disabilities (UNCRPD). This convention is vital as it sets out what a country should be doing to protect the rights of people with disabilities and our freedom to participate fully in society. Some of the areas covered in the convention include equality, accommodation, women and children, accessibility, access to justice, education and more.

It is important for you to have your say in this.

Over the coming months, Irish Wheelchair Association will be getting in touch with you, our members, to find out more about your lived experience in relation to housing, transport, education, employment, personal assistance, sport or anything that you feel is relevant to you and your experience of living with a disability in Ireland.

What is the United Nations Convention for the Rights of People with Disabilities (UNCRPD)?

The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was adopted globally in 2006. Ireland signed the Convention in 2007 and ratified it in 2018, meaning that we agreed to be bound by and comply with the commitments set out under the convention.

What is the purpose?

The purpose of the UNCRPD is 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.

What does the UNCRPD say?

The UNCRPD has guiding principles which include dignity, autonomy, freedom to choose, non-discrimination, respect for diversity, equality and accessibility.

There are 50 Articles which include:
• Right to respect physical and mental integrity
• Right to live in the community
• Freedom of expression and opinion
• Respect for home and the family
• Right to education
• Right to health
• Right to work
• Right to an adequate standard of living
• Right to participate in political and public life

Why do we need a specific convention for people with disabilities?

There are around 1 billion people with disabilities in the world. People with disabilities face discrimination including barriers in education, employment and accessibility to buildings and services, which can prevent or make it harder for us to live the lives we choose. The convention is there as a global framework to ensure that people with disabilities have access to the same rights and opportunities as everyone else. However, we need our Government to fully embrace their obligations under this global agreement, so that the commitments it sets out can become a reality. As we know, Ireland has a way to go on this road.

Have your say – reporting on Ireland’s progress

Every country that signs up to the UNCRPD has a 4-year reporting cycle and this is Ireland’s first one. In April, the State will submit an initial report about what has been put in place to fulfil Ireland’s promise that people with disabilities will experience the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and to promote respect for their inherent dignity.

The Government issued its draft report in December 2020.

All organisations and individuals have the right to make their own submission to the Government on their experience of living with a disability in Ireland. These submissions are due by the 9th April 2021.

You can do this by sending an email about your experience of living with a disability to disability_policy@equality.gov.ie. You can also copy on the email Joan Carthy, our National Advocacy Manager on joan.carthy@iwa.ie, so that we can make sure your issues are being heard through Irish Wheelchair Association’s submission.

Find more about the state reporting process.

The Government will ultimately decide on what information is included in the State Report.

However, the second part of the reporting process happens later in the year when individuals and organisations in the disability sector, including Irish Wheelchair Association, will submit a ‘shadow report’ to the United Nations Committee outlining our views, lived experience and observations on how Ireland has or has not responded to their commitments under the UNCRPD.

When the shadow reports are submitted, the United Nations committee will review them in conjunction with the State report and make recommendations for the Irish Government, to which they will have 12 months to respond.

Irish Wheelchair Association will soon be consulting across our membership to compile our report. If you have any queries or would like to be involved, please contact Joan Carthy on joan.carthy@iwa.ie

Find out more about the United Nations Convention of the Rights of People with Disabilities