-State Now the Last EU Member to Ratify UN Treaty for People with Disabilities –
Advice to government, published today from the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (“the Commission”) has warned that people with disabilities in Ireland risk being further excluded from decisions, which impact their daily lives, from employment to voting.
Ireland today stands alone as the only one of 28 EU Member States not to have ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).
The Commission’s advice, published on the eve of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) on Saturday 3rd December, focuses on Government legislation being proposed to allow for ratification of the Convention.
While it is a ground-breaking document, the Convention is, in its own way, remarkably simple. It does not draw up or confer any new human rights. What it does is mark out in clear, unambiguous terms that the rights of persons with disabilities are human rights. It makes plain that our body of international human rights norms apply equally to persons with disabilities.
The Convention also, and crucially, adopts a modern, forward-looking model of disability, which marks it out from the more paternalistic approach taken toward disability in previous treaties and mechanisms. The Convention also leaves behind the old charitable/medical models of disability where people with disabilities are viewed as passive recipients of decision making by people who think they know better. Instead, the Convention recognises people with disabilities as primary stakeholders, active participants and equal partners in State action around disability.
A crucial aspect of this legislation will be the establishment of a formal national monitoring mechanism, with, for the first time in Irish law, the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission identified as that monitor, in addition to the Commission having an advisory committee made up of people with lived experience of disabilities.
Speaking on the publication of the advice, Chief Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Emily Logan stated:
“Ireland’s approach to disability has historically been stubbornly grounded in a medical and charitable approach. Ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities can change this. This Convention does not draw up or confer any new human rights, but it does mark out in clear, unambiguous terms that the rights of persons with disabilities are human rights.
“This delay of almost a decade in Irish ratification has been a source of immense frustration for persons with disabilities, but with the Government committed to ratification, the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is now focused on making sure that implementation and monitoring of the State’s performance is robust.”
Chief Commissioner Emily Logan also further commented:
“The State must ensure participation by persons with disabilities will be a cornerstone of Irish implementation of the Convention.”
In its advice, the Commission also made the following further key observations:
- On deinstitutionalisation – Recommends that provision should be included in Irish law to protect and ensure respect for people with disabilities around deinstitutionalisation. The Commission has also tendered for specific research to be carried out on deinstitutionalisation.
- On access to voting – Recommends that access to voting for people with disabilities should be examined by the electoral commission.
- On jury service – Reaffirms that persons with disabilities should be presumed to have the capacity to serve on a jury.
For further information, please contact:
Brian Dawson, IHREC Communications Manager,
01 8589601 / 087 0697095
Follow us on twitter @_IHREC
Notes to editor:
The full submission of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission to the Equality/Disability (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill is available at the following link:
Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC)
The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) was set up on 1 November 2014 as an independent public body to protect and promote human rights and equality in Ireland and build a culture of respect for human rights, equality and intercultural understanding across Irish society. The Irish Human Rights and Equality Act 2014 sets out the functions of the Commission, i.e. to ensure that:
- there is respect for, and protection of, everyone’s human rights;
- there is respect for the dignity and worth of each person;
- a person’s ability to achieve their potential is not limited by prejudice, discrimination, or neglect;
- everyone has a fair and equal opportunity to take part in the economic, political, social or cultural life of the State; and
- people respect each other, respect equality and human rights, and understand the value of diversity within society
The IHREC is Ireland’s national human rights institution and is recognised as such by the United Nations. The Commission is also Ireland’s national equality body for the purpose of a range of EU anti-discrimination measures.