Department for Work and Pensions
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Government signs up to the optional protocol to the un convention on rights of disabled people

Government signs up to the optional protocol to the un convention on rights of disabled people

DEPARTMENT FOR WORK AND PENSIONS News Release (DRC-126) issued by COI News Distribution Service. 3 February 2009

Disabled people will have the opportunity to take their case to the UN if they feel their rights have been breached, Jonathan Shaw, Minister for Disabled People said today.

Announcing that the UK Government has committed to signing the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on Rights of Disabled People, Mr Shaw said: "This is further demonstration of our commitment to the UN Convention on the Rights of Disabled People, and to the principle of ensuring that disabled people can enjoy their human rights on an equal basis with non-disabled people."

The Convention itself reaffirms that disabled people have - and should be able to enjoy - their human rights on an equal basis with non-disabled people. The Optional Protocol builds on this by establishing two additional procedures in respect of implementation and monitoring of the Convention. This includes an avenue that will enable individuals, who feel their rights have been breached, to bring petitions to the UN Committee, set up to monitor implementation of the Convention.

The UK signed the UN Convention itself on the first day that it was able to do so - on 30 March 2007. Since then it has been considering the Optional Protocol in the light of work towards ratification of the Convention itself.

Mr Shaw, added: "I can tell you that work towards ratification of the Convention itself continues and good progress is being made. We expect the Parliamentary processes for ratification of the Convention will start soon. Our ambition is to ratify the Convention in the Spring."

Notes to editor:
1. The Convention is designed to promote, protect and ensure the human rights freedoms and dignity of disabled people. This Convention is a powerful document. It explicitly sets out the rights that disabled people have and should be able to enjoy on the same basis as other people - for example, the right to dignity, freedom, equality and justice. It also provides direction on how human rights should be interpreted from the perspective of disabled people all over the world.

2. Government has been considering compliance with the Convention since signature. The Parliamentary processes for ratification which will allow scrutiny by MPs and the Lords will start as soon as possible (ratification will enable it to come into force in the UK). Following signature of the Optional Protocol, this will also be subject to these Parliamentary processes to allow for ratification.

3. The decision to sign this Optional Protocol does not set a precedent for similar individual complaints mechanisms. These will continue to be considered on their merits on a case by case basis.

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