The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Pretoria 17 June 2013: The Government of South Africa – represented by the Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities – jointly with the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) and the United Nations Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) conducted a consultation between 10 and 12 June on ways to accelerate the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Person with Disabilities (CRPD) in the country.

The main goal of the consultation was to assess the South African national experience on implementing the CRPD and to define ways to promote social inclusion and human rights of persons with disabilities at the national, provincial and local levels. The outcome of these consultations will provide input to a toolkit on CRPD implementation currently being developed jointly by South Africa and the UN in the framework of the sub-regional pilot project for Ethiopia, Kenya, South Africa and Zambia funded by UNDESA.

The consultation was attended by representatives of the relevant departments of the South African government and agencies, the police force, public associations, representative organizations of persons with disabilities as well as international organizations accredited in the country.


The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Promoting and protecting the human rights, inclusion and empowerment of persons with disabilities is a priority issue for the United Nations. According to data recently published in the World Report on Disability (World Health Organization and World Bank, 2011), persons with disabilities constitute about 15% of the world’s population, or about 1 billion people; about 90-150 million of these are children. Many persons with disabilities live in poverty or extreme poverty.

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol were adopted by the United Nations General Assembly resolution 61/106 on 13 December 2006 and entered into force on 3 May 2008.  The Convention aims to ensure that persons with disabilities – a group often rendered ‘invisible’ in legislation, policies and practices – enjoy their human rights on an equal basis with others, without discrimination of any kind. In so doing, it embodies a ‘paradigm shift’ in the way to view persons with disabilities, from charity or medical approaches to one that is firmly rooted in human rights. To date, 155 States have signed the Convention and 131 have ratified it, while 76 States have ratified its Optional Protocol.


United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) and its predecessors over the years have provided assistance to countries around the world in addressing their economic, social and environmental problems. UNDESA works to promote social inclusion of people with disabilities in society, with the help of key global instruments such as the World Program of Action concerning Disabled Persons (1982), the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities (1994) and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006). UNDESA facilitates the efficient implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities at the regional, national and local levels.

UNDESA also co-hosts the Secretariat of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.



The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) represents the world’s commitment to universal ideals of human dignity. The Office has a unique mandate from the international community to promote and protect all human rights. It supports the work of the United Nations human rights mechanisms, such as the Human Rights Council and the core treaty bodies set up for monitoring State Parties’ compliance with international human rights treaties, promote the right to development, coordinate United Nations human rights education and public information activities, and strengthens human rights across the United Nations system. OHCHR works to ensure the enforcement of universally recognized human rights norms, including through promoting both the universal ratification and implementation of the major human rights treaties and respect for the rule of law.

OHCHR has the mandate to promote and protect the human rights of persons with disabilities through supporting the ratification and effective implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. It is the Secretariat of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which in accordance with article 34 of the Convention has the mandate to monitor States parties’ progress in implementing the Convention; undertakes research and develops tools and materials to guide States, organizations of persons with disabilities, national human rights institutions (NHRIs) and other stakeholders on understanding the Convention; and supports regional and national level action on furthering the human rights of persons with disabilities.

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