The Convention is a human rights agreement developed by the United Nations Organisation (UN) and adopted by the UN in 2006.

The Convention doesn’t contain any new rights.

The Convention is based on rights and freedoms originally expressed in something called the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which was developed by the UN just after World War 2.

The main point of the Convention is to explain the rights of persons affected by disability in a way which helps governments to organise society so that persons with disabilities are included equally in all aspects of life and so that, for example, persons with disabilities have equal opportunities to; gain an education, go to work, take part in political and social life, and to participate in sporting and cultural activities.

The Convention does not define disability as such and is careful to explain that “disability is an evolving concept”. The Convention rejects charity and medical models of disability and instead explains that disability results from a person’s impairments interacting with physical and environmental barriers.

The Convention is all about removing those barriers.

The Convention is one of the most successful human rights agreements ever developed. More than 185 nations have signed to say they agree with the principles of the Convention. Almost 99% of the population of the world live in countries whose governments have signed the Convention.

Most nations that have signed the Convention have also “ratified” the Convention. “Ratified” means that a nation has made a legal promise to keep to the principles of the Convention and agrees to report to the UN every four years on the progress that has been made.

Ratification gives additional impetus on governments to realise (achieve) the Convention. Ratification is important because it gives persons with disabilities confidence that their governments are committed to realising and respecting their rights.

Because Guernsey is not a member nation of the UN, it cannot sign or ratify the Convention in its own right. Instead, Guernsey can request that the UK’s ratification be extended to the island. In 2013, the States of Guernsey resolved to seek extension of the UK’s ratification “at the earliest appropriate opportunity”

The Convention is based on the following basic principles:

  • Respect for inherent dignity, individual autonomy, including the freedom to make one’s own choices and independence of persons
  • Non-discrimination
  • Full and effective participation and inclusion in society
  • Respect for difference and acceptance of persons with disabilities as part of human diversity and humanity
  • Equality of opportunity
  • Accessibility
  • Equality between men and women
  • Respect for the evolving capacities of children with disabilities and respect for the right of children with disabilities to preserve their identities.

Most Articles (clauses) of the Convention can be realised progressively (over time) but there are a few things that governments must take immediate steps to achieve: for example, eliminating discrimination and raising awareness about disability and about the rights of all those affected by disability.