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Thinking about the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

By Brooke Canham and Luke Nelson

This article is about the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. We also say UN CRPD for short, so it is easier to understand.

What is the United Nations?

The United Nations is a place where all the countries of the world work together to make decisions. It is also called the UN.

The United Nations has been described as “a big world organisation that works for peace and to make the world better.”

What are human rights?

Human rights are basic rights and freedoms that belong to every person in the world.

Rights are something that all people have regardless of background, where we live, what we look like, what we think or what we believe. They are there to help people live in freedom and with respect for each other.

An example of rights would be you have the right to speak up for yourself and be heard. Another example is you have the right to be included in your community. You also have the rights to freedom of choice and to have a relationship.

What is the CRPD?

There is a UN document which talks about the rights of people with disabilities.

This document says what countries should do to protect the rights of people with disabilities.

It is called the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. In short, we call it the ‘CRPD’.

Many countries signed the CRPD and agreed to make the lives of people with disabilities better. Australia signed the CRPD in 2008.

What does the CRPD say?

The CRPD has many rights for people with disability. Some of the rights are:

  • We are all equal before the law
  • We are capable and contributing members of society
  • We have the right to privacy and to have intimate relationships
  • Disabled children should be respected for who they are as they grow up
  • We have the right to accessible information
  • We have the right to be included at school.

And there are many more.

What does the CRPD do?

The CRPD is to protect the human rights of people with disability and stop them from being hurt and left out of things.

The agreement is for countries to make sure that disabled people have the same rights as everyone else in life.

Countries have to choose to sign up to the CRPD. When they sign it, they are meant to follow what it says and make the human rights into laws in their countries.

Unfortunately, there is not much the UN can do to make sure this actually happens. Countries don’t really get into trouble if they don’t do what the CRPD says. The UN can do a report about it but not make the countries change.

Inclusion Australia believes that countries should understand that disabled people need to be treated respectfully and equally. If countries promise to do something, they must follow through with the promise they have made.

We think that the Australian Government needs to do more to meet the CRPD. The UN has written some reports to tell us this.

How can I find more information?

You can watch a video about the CRPD on YouTube. It is called Rights Under The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability (UNCRPD).

It is from DARU, the Disability Advocacy Resource Unit in Victoria.

To watch the film, click here.

You can find the full CRPD document about the agreement and what countries need to follow on the UN website:

There is also an Easy Read version of the CRPD and a plain English document.