Today, Inclusion Canada is celebrating the Golden Anniversary of the signing of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).  Happy 11th birthday to the first comprehensive international human rights treaty of the 21st century.  We mark this occasion with 11 interesting facts of the CRPD.

  1. The CRPD has 8 guiding principles: Respect for dignity and individual autonomy; Non-discrimination; Full and effective participation and inclusion; Respect for difference and acceptance of persons with disabilities as part of human diversity; Equality of opportunity; Accessibility; Gender equality; Respect for the evolving capacities of children with disabilities.
  1. It took decades to prepare the political and legal ground for the Convention. Earlier attempts to convince the United Nations (UN) General Assembly  (the main policy making body) to open the gate for a convention focusing on persons with disabilities failed.
  1. The CRPD was the fastest negotiated human rights treaty, negotiated in 4 years. 
  1. With 82 country signatories on March 30, 2007, the CRPD had the highest number of signatories in history to a UN Convention on an opening day.
  1. This was the first time Canada has signed a UN Convention on its opening day.
  1. It was the first time in history that civil society actively participated in the development and negotiation of the text. Persons with disabilities were active at all delegation levels. Kofi Annan, the former UN Secretary General stated, “It was the community of the disabled themselves that worked tirelessly and insistently to promote this Convention” (United Nations, 2006).
  1. The Convention marks a ‘paradigm shift’ in attitudes and approaches to persons with disabilities. Persons with disabilities are not viewed as “objects” of charity, medical treatment, and social protection; rather as “subjects” with rights, who are capable of claiming those rights and making decisions for their lives. 
  1. Article 12 (equal recognition before the law) was facilitated by the Canadian delegation and secures a progressive approach to legal capacity and, for the first time in international law, recognizes a right to use support to exercise one’s legal capacity – a made-in-Canada solution. 
  1. More Canadian influence: Article 5 (equality and non-discrimination) is very consistent with S. 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and Article 24 (education) secures a right to inclusive education – a concept that Canada is seen as an international leader on.
  1. The Convention does not explicitly define disability, instead describes disability in Article 1: Purpose – “‘Disability is an evolving concept, and that disability results from the interaction between persons with impairments and attitudinal and environmental barriers that hinders full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others’.
  1. The Optional Protocol is an additional part of the CRPD. Canada agreed to follow the Optional Protocol in 2018. This means that in some situations people in Canada can make complaints to the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.