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United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities issues recommendations to the EU

September 8th 2015

For the first time in history, the EU was examined by a UN human rights treaty body and received recommendations to strengthen its approach to the rights of persons with disabilities in Europe

On 27-28 of August, the European Union was examined for the first time by a UN human rights committee in Geneva - the expert committee on the rights of persons with disabilities. Having ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2010, the EU was called to present the work it has done on the implementation of the Convention since then. This is the first international human rights treaty that the EU as a whole has ever ratified.

The UN Committee has now published its concluding observations and recommendations on how the EU can promote and protect the rights of persons with disabilities in Europe in areas such as: freedom of movement, non-discrimination, independent living, education, employment, humanitarian aid and international cooperation, legal capacity, access to justice, liberty and security, health, participation in elections etc. In the field of European equality, the UN Committee has made some significant statements.

The Committee recommends that the European Union adopt its proposed horizontal Equal Treatment Directive extending protection from discrimination to persons with disabilities, including by the provision of reasonable accommodation, to all areas of competence. Furthermore, the Committee recommends that the European Union ensure discrimination in all aspects based on disability is prohibited, including multiple and intersectional discrimination.’

The Committee recommends that the European Union mainstream women and girls with disabilities’ perspective in its forthcoming Gender Equality Strategy, policies and programs, as well as a gender perspective in its disability strategies. It further recommends that the European Union develop affirmative actions to advance the rights of women and girls with disabilities, establish a mechanism to monitor progress, and fund data collection and research on women and girls with disabilities. It further recommends that the European Union accede to the Council of Europe Istanbul Convention as a step to combating violence against women and girls with disabilities’.

The UN required the EU to provide feedback within one year on three areas:

  • progress in its independent monitoring mechanism,
  • adoption of the long awaited European Accessibility Act,
  • reviewing its Declaration of competences- this means the EU should bring its list of policy areas to which the Convention applies, up to date.

The EU has a follow-up review in 4 years time. It will have to explain at that moment which steps it has taken to implement the recommendations. The next progress report has to be submitted by January 2019.

For more information:

  • Read the full opinion and observations on the UN recommendations by the European Disability Forum on their website
  • Access the recommendations of the UN CRPD here
  • Read the outline of the European Commission on their work on the UN CRPD here