February 15, 2020

The Convention on the Rights of Persons (CRPD)

Professional Training Series No. 19

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol were adopted on 13 December 2006 and entered into force on 3 May 2008. They came into existence through a forceful call from persons with disabilities around the world to have their human rights respected, protected and fulfilled on an equal basis with others.

The Convention celebrates human diversity and human dignity. Its main message is that persons with disabilities are entitled to the full spectrum of human rights and fundamental freedoms without discrimination. This is reflected in the Convention’s preamble and throughout its articles. In prohibiting discrimination on the basis of disability and establishing that reasonable accommodation shall be provided to persons with disabilities with a view to ensuring equality, the Convention promotes the full participation of persons with disabilities in all spheres of life. In establishing the obligation to promote positive perceptions and greater social awareness towards persons with disabilities, it challenges customs and behaviour based on stereotypes, prejudices, harmful practices and stigma relating to persons with disabilities. In establishing a mechanism for complaints, the Convention’s Optional Protocol ensures that persons with disabilities have an equal right to redress for violations of the rights enshrined in the Convention.

Importantly, the Convention and its Optional Protocol challenge previous perceptions of disability—as a medical problem or a generator of pity or charitable approaches—and establish an empowering human rights-based approach to disability.

Through this historic paradigm shift, the Convention forges new ground and requires new thinking. Its implementation demands innovative solutions. To get it right from the start, the Convention’s aims, concepts and provisions must be well understood by all stakeholders: from government officials to parliamentarians and judges; from representatives of United Nations specialized agencies, funds and programmes to professionals in areas such as education, health and support services; from civil society organizations to staff of national human rights institutions; from employers to those representing the media; and from persons with disabilities and their representative organizations to the general public.

While the ratification of the Convention and its Optional Protocol has proceeded rapidly, knowledge on how to implement and monitor them has not kept pace. Conscious of this challenge, my Office has developed this Training Guide on the Convention and its Optional Protocol. It is complemented by eight training modules, designed to inform and empower those who are involved in ratifying, implementing and monitoring the two instruments. While the Training Guide is mainly targeted at facilitators of training courses on the Convention and its Optional Protocol, it acknowledges that each and every one of us has a role to play. I recommend wide dissemination of the training package, and its use by all those who want to embark upon the essential journey towards greater awareness and effective implementation of the rights of persons with disabilities and, ultimately, the building of an inclusive society for all.

Navanethem Pillay

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

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