EU ratifies UN Convention on disability rights

With this formal ratification, the European Union becomes for the first time in history a party to an international human rights treaty: the United Nation's Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, which aims to ensure that people with disabilities can enjoy their rights on an equal basis with all other citizens. This text is the first comprehensive human rights treaty to be ratified by the Union as a whole.

By ratifying the United Nation's Convention on disability rights, the European Union becomes the 97th party to this treaty, which has also been signed by 27 Member states and by 16. The European Union signed the Convention on its opening day for signature on 30 March 2007. Following completion of the ratification procedure, the EU as a whole is now the first international organisation which has become a formal party to the Convention.

This ratification reflects the European Union's broader commitment to building a barrier-free Europe for the estimated 80 million people with disabilities in the EU by 2020, as set out in the European Commission's disability strategy adopted in November 2010. The disability strategy for 2010-2020 will focus on empowering people with disabilities to enjoy their rights on an equal basis with others and on removing obstacles in everyday life, therefore helping to the implementation of the provisions of the Convention in practice, both at EU and national level.

United Nation's Convention on disability rights

The United Nation's Convention on disability rights commits parties to making sure that people with disabilities fully can enjoy their rights on an equal basis with all other citizens. For the EU, this means ensuring that all legislation, policies and programmes at EU level comply with the Convention's provisions on disability rights, within the limits of EU responsibilities. Ratifying countries, such as the EU Member States, should take action in the following areas: access to education, employment, transport, infrastructures and buildings open to the public, granting the right to vote, improving political participation and ensuring full legal capacity of all people with disabilities.

Parties that have ratified the Convention will need to periodically inform the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities about the measures taken to implement the Convention. The Committee, composed of independent experts, will highlight any shortcomings in the Convention’s implementation and make recommendations.