The rights of persons with disabilities is an important area of work for European National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs), both individually and collectively through ENNHRI. Persons with disabilities must enjoy all human rights on an equal basis with others. However, they may face multiple barriers and discrimination. They include a lack of access to inclusive education, discrimination when seeking employment, and being subjected to violence and abuse.
Many European NHRIs have a mandate to promote, protect and monitor the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). When establishing such mechanisms, state parties must take into account the UN Paris Principles.
Even when NHRIs do not have this formal mandate, they make use of their broad human rights mandate to ensure that persons with disabilities can enjoy their rights on an equal basis with others.
European NHRIs’ work in this area can include:
- making recommendations to governments and parliament for reforming legislation and policy affecting persons with disabilities;
- raising awareness and conducting research on the implementation of the rights of persons with disabilities, and reporting to regional and international bodies on the national implementation of the UN CRPD;
- monitoring and reporting on the treatment of persons with disabilities in care institutions; and
- investigating individual complaints.
Cooperation and engagement with the European Union
In addition to all EU Member States, the EU itself is a party to the UN CRPD. To monitor its implementation of the Convention, the EU has designated a Monitoring Framework. The members of this framework comprise the European Parliament; the European Ombudsman; the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights; and the European Disability Forum. These bodies are also observers to our CRPD Working Group. They have worked alongside European NHRIs in the implementation of the UN CRPD both at the EU and national levels. Previously, ENNHRI also participated in the annual CRPD Work Forum on the EU’s CRPD implementation.
Engagement with the Council of Europe
In 2021, we released a statement calling on Council of Europe Member States to oppose the adoption of the Additional Protocol to the Oviedo Convention on Bioethics. This affirmed that the Additional Protocol could create a conflict between international standards and lead to further violations of the human rights of persons with disabilities in Europe.
This followed another statement published in 2018. When engaging on this topic, we also make use of our observer status before the Council of Europe’s Steering Committee for Human Rights (CDDH).
|Download our 2021 Statement on the Draft Additional Protocol to the Oviedo Convention|
CRPD Working Group
Our work in this area is facilitated through our CRPD Working Group. This acts as a hub of experts and a platform to exchange knowledge, good practices and challenges that NHRIs face when working on the rights of persons with disabilities.
The Working Group aims to enhance NHRIs’ capacity on a variety of topics. This includes legal capacity and supported decision-making, inclusive education, and the need for active participation and involvement of persons with disabilities. It also coordinates engagement with regional actors at the levels of the EU and Council of Europe.
The Working Group also cooperates closely with the CRPD Working Group of the Global Alliance of NHRIs (GANHRI), as well as Equinet, the European Network of Equality Bodies.
Since 2020, the Working Group has been issuing quarterly newsletters. These cover both the activities of group members and international and regional news on the rights of persons with disabilities.
- Newsletter 4: Going Forward – Planning a More Sustainable and Inclusive Future for Persons with Disabilities
- Newsletter 5: Life with Covid-19 – Recovery from Ongoing Effects of the Pandemic on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
- Newsletter 6: COVID-19 Is Still Here – Tireless Work of NHRIs and OPDs during the COVID-19 Pandemic
- Newsletter 7: Living with COVID-19 and Persons with
- Newsletter 8: Creating Inclusive Environments – From Policy into Practice
- Newsletter 9: A Way Forward towards Protecting the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
- Newsletter 10: Working toward Reducing Negative Impact of the International Armed Conflict on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
- Newsletter 11: The end of 2022 – Lessons Learned and a Way Forward
Jerneja Turin, Human Rights Ombudsman of the Republic of Slovenia