The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) was adopted by the UN in December 2006. The Convention defines a vision and sets international standards for the civil and social rights of persons with a disability in all areas of life.
This is a multi-lateral convention of human rights and is similar to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of 1966, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women adopted in 1979, The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child passed in 1989, etc. The principle of inclusion is at the core of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which means a society open and accessible to all in which persons with a disability can participate freely and without limitations.
The Convention is based on the understanding that a disability stems from the reciprocal relations between health disabilities on the one hand and various barriers on the other hand – particularly social barriers, an inaccessible environment and negative attitudes that restrict full and equal participation of persons with a disability in society. Therefore, it requires the states to remove these barriers.
As part of the barrier removal process, the Convention recognizes the importance of accessibility of the physical, social, economic and cultural environment, and the need for access to health, education, information and communication.
The Convention underscores the importance of individual autonomy and independence of persons with a disability and their right to make their own decisions on personal matters. Furthermore, it demands to actively involve persons with a disability in formulating public policy that pertains to them, in the spirit of the principle “nothing about us without us”.
The State of Israel ratified the UN Convention in September 2012, and as a ratifying state it has the duty to actively promote equality of persons with a disability in all areas of life and to monitor the state’s implementation progress. Every four years Israel must report to the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities about the measures it has taken to implement the Convention and fulfill its demands. The first report is to be submitted in September 2014.
The Israel Commission for Equal Rights of Persons with Disabilities was involved in formulating the UN Convention, spearheaded work with the different government ministries to ratify the Convention, and was appointed to be the coordinating entity acting within the government to advance the Convention implementation as well as the entity monitoring its actual implementation.
To date 158 countries have signed the Convention out of 193 UN member states, and a total of 147 countries have ratified it (as of August 2014).
Legally, the Convention complements Israeli laws regarding equality of persons with a disability and it has interpretive validity. The courts employ it in interpreting the law, based on the assumption that the legislator’s intent is aligned with Israel’s international obligations.
Socially, the Convention provides a framework and criteria for renewed periodic consideration of Israel’s achievements and of what remains to be done to foster the full integration of persons with a disability into society.
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