UN Committees examination of the UK on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
08 Sep 2017
Across 2017, investigations and examinations have taken place across the UK. These investigations, run by a designated committee of the UN, were designed to look at a wide range of laws, policies & practices, with regards to Disabled rights across the country.
It has been a decade since Anne McGuire, former Labour MP & minister for Disabled People, went to The UN headquarters in New York City to sign the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The initial examination was supposed to take place in 2013, and it almost did take place in 2015, however it finally happened this year. This is despite being a signatory of the convention since 2007, and the subsequent ratification of the agreement one year later.
Several publications have taken place throughout the year, starting with the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities publication of a ‘List of Issues’ in April. This was followed up in June where the Committee outlined its main areas of concern. These included concerns for how disabled children were being segregated in education, including how “special school” were keeping children away from mainstream education facilities, which should themselves be doing more to be inclusive for disabled children. Failure of the UK government to recognise the rights of disabled people to live independently, and the claim that disabled people and their families had a reduced standard of living/ higher levels of poverty were also raised.
The Committee conducted a two-day examination, last month, which looked into the progress the UK government has been making in implementing the changes suggested by the UN Convention on the Rights of Disabled People, this included more than 60 recommendations. This is the first full examination of the UK by the UN, of this nature, regarding disability issues.
Stig Langvard, a member of the committee, leading the examination has been quoted as saying “The government had failed to answer many questions put into it” and that it had “become evident that the committee has a very different perception of how human rights should be understood and implemented.” He would even go as far as to call it “A human catastrophe.”
This was after the same organisation left a contemptuous report on austerity policies by the UK government in welfare and social care in November of 2016.
It will be interesting to see over the next few years what effects these reports have, and what changes are made across the UK, regarding disability rights. Especially as the Committee can only offer its assessment & give direction, but it has no power of sanction.