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UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Volume 707: debated on Tuesday 3 February 2009


My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Jonathan Shaw) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I am pleased to announce that the UK will sign the optional protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities as soon as practicable.

The convention will reaffirm that disabled people have—and should be able to enjoy—their human rights on an equal basis with non-disabled people. The optional protocol builds on this by establishing two additional procedures in respect of implementation and monitoring of the convention itself. 

The first is a procedural avenue that, subject to meeting conditions set out in the optional protocol, will enable individuals or groups of individuals to bring petitions to the UN committee that has been established to monitor implementation of the convention if they believe that their convention rights have been breached. The second is an inquiry procedure giving the committee authority to undertake inquiries, when reliable information is received, into allegations of grave or systematic violations of convention rights.

This is an important decision which further demonstrates the Government’s firm commitment to the convention, on which our work towards ratification is continuing, and to the principle of ensuring equality of human rights for disabled people.

The decision to sign this optional protocol does not set a precedent for similar individual complaints mechanisms. These will continue to be considered on their merits on a case-by-case basis.