United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol

13 December 2006
Area of action: All areas of action
Grounds of discrimination: Disability

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was adopted by the United Nations on 13 December 2006. In Belgium, the Convention entered into force on 1 August 2009. Since 2011, Unia has exercised the mandate of independent mechanism responsible for the promotion, protection and monitoring of the implementation of the Convention in Belgium.

This text, adopted with the massive support of the organisations representing disabled persons, guarantees full enjoyment of fundamental rights by disabled persons and their active participation in political, economic, social and cultural life.

In particular, the Convention lays emphasis on the following principles:

  • disability must be considered as an evolving and systemic concept: it is the result of an interaction between the person with long-term incapacities (physical, mental, intellectual or sensory) and attitudinal and environmental barriers that hinders their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.
  • the disabled person is a person with rights, like everyone else.
  • 'nothing about us without us': the public authorities must ensure that policies concerning persons with disabilities are adopted in consultation with them.

The UN Committee on the rights of persons with disabilities ensures compliancewith the Convention by the signatory countries. The Committee also explains the content of the Convention rights in its important General Comments.

Belgium has also ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention, which, under certain conditions:

  • allows persons who consider themselves to be the victim of an infringement of the Convention to refer the matter to the UN Committee;
  • allows the UN Committee to initiate inquiries on its own initiative in cases where reliable information indicates that a country is in serious or systematic violation of the Convention.