Benefits for people with disabilities
17. The UK was among the first countries to sign
the Convention on 30 March 2007. In the press notice issued
when she signed the Convention, Anne McGuire MP, the then Minister
"I am proud to be able to sign the Convention
for the UK, thus honouring the Prime Minister's expressed hope
given in December 2006 to be among the first countries to sign
the Convention. But it's not just our citizens who will benefit
from this. There are around 650 million disabled people worldwide
who stand to see an improvement in their lives too - especially
in the developing world where 80% of the world's disabled population
Prejudice against disabled people is unfortunately
still far too prevalent and although we still have a long way
to go in changing attitudes, this Convention at last puts disabled
people's human rights on an equal footing with everyone else's."
18. Witnesses generally accepted the benefits
of ratification of the Convention.
The principal benefit cited was the message that ratification
of the Convention would send to disabled people in the UK and
abroad that their rights were being taken seriously by the UK
Government. The UN Convention Campaign Coalition, a group of over
25 disability organisations, told us that the Convention presented
the first clear international statement that disabled people had
the right to be "treated as full and equal human beings".
The EHRC told us the UNCRPD:
"Offers a major opportunity to achieve a paradigm
shift in the way disabled people are perceived and treated across
the world, from objects of charity and welfare to equal human
beings with the full set of rights that confers."
19. A number of witnesses referred to the symbolic
significance of the drafting, signature and ratification to people
with disabilities and to the creation of an international, cross-cultural
moral standard for the treatment of people with disabilities.
20. A few witnesses referred to the practical
benefits which ratification could bring, including (a) providing
clear guidance for policy makers on the treatment of disabled
people; (b) supporting
claims under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (as amended)
(DDA) or the Human Rights Act (HRA);
(c) supporting training for individuals and NGOs in rights and
equality for disabled people;
and (d) instilling a sense of pride and ownership by disabled
people of their rights and in the international 'human rights-lobby'.
21. We asked the Minister if he still saw benefits
in ratification. He confirmed that the Government thought that
ratification of the Convention would be:
"A demonstration that the Government is committed
to working at home and abroad to ensure that human rights are
enjoyed by all people, all disabled people. Importantly as well,
the Convention will provide an important part of the analysis
and benchmarking as we develop our policies going into the future."
22. We welcome the Minister's statement that
the Government accepts the clear benefits of ratification of the
Convention. The findings of our recent inquiry on the rights of
adults with learning disabilities showed that although UK law
and policy on the treatment of adults with learning disabilities
takes a human rights based approach, the day to day experiences
of people with learning disabilities are not so positive. Ratification
will send a strong signal to all people with disabilities in the
UK, and abroad, that the Government takes equality and the protection
of their human rights seriously. We look forward to seeing more
detail about how, in practice, the Government proposes to ensure
that the UNCRPD will play an important part in policy formation.