What is disability and who are persons with disabilities?
The term persons with disabilities is used to apply to all persons with disabilities including those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which, in interaction with various attitudinal and environmental barriers, hinders their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others. However, this minimum list of persons who may claim protection under the Convention does not exhaust the categories of the disabilities which fall within the it nor intend to undermine or stand in the way of wider definition of disabilities under national law (such as persons with short-term disabilities). It is also important to note that a person with disabilities may be regarded as a person with a disability in one society or setting, but not in another, depending on the role that the person is assumed to take in his or her community. The perception and reality of disability also depend on the technologies, assistance and services available, as well as on cultural considerations.
In most parts of the world there are deep and persistent negative stereotypes and prejudices against persons with certain conditions and differences. These attitudes themselves also shape who is considered to be a person with a disability in each society as well as have contributed to a negative image of persons with disabilities. The language used to refer to persons with disabilities has played a significant role in the persistence of negative stereotypes. Clearly, terms such as “crippled” or “mentally retarded” are derogative. Other terms such as “wheelchair-bound” or “disabled persons” emphasize the disability before the person.
The drafters of this Convention were clear that disability should be seen as the result of the interaction between a person and his or her environment. Disability is not something that resides in the individual as the result of some impairment. This convention recognizes that disability is an evolving concept and that legislation may adapt to reflect positive changes within society.
What is the mandate for the Secretariat for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities?
The mandate of the Secretariat for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities includes the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities adopted in 2006, the Standard Rules on Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities adopted in 1993, and the World Programme of Action Concerning Disabled Persons adopted in 1982.
For more information:
The Secretariat for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
What has the UN done for persons with disabilities?
During its first three decades, the United Nations moved from a welfare perspective on disability to a development and human rights perspective. This approach was promoted during the International Year of Disabled Persons in 1981 and embodied in the World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons adopted in 1982. This approach was further development during the United Nations Decade of Disabled Persons (1983-1992) and led the adoption of the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities in 1994. It is widely agreed that, since its adoption, the application of the principles expressed in the Standard Rules has greatly contributed to the diffusion of best practices on equalization of opportunities for persons with disabilities.
In 1992, the United Nations proclaimed 3 December of each year as International Day of Disabled Persons with the aim of promoting a better understanding about disability issues and increasing awareness of gains to be derived from the integration of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social economic and cultural life.
On 13 December 2006, the General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the first major human rights instrument of the 21st century.
Does the UN monitor the situation of disabled persons in different countries?
Among the major outcomes of the Decade of Disabled Persons was the adoption, by the General Assembly, of the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities in 1994. The Standard Rules consists of 22 rules summarizing the message of the World Programme of Action, and serves as an instrument for policy-making and as a basis for technical and economic cooperation. The Rules also provides for a monitoring mechanism: the Special Rapporteur on Disability, who reports on the implementation of the Standard Rules to the Commission for Social Development of the Economic and Social Council. The Special Rapporteur establishes a direct dialogue with Member States and also with local non-governmental organizations and experts, seeking their views and comments on any information intended to be included in the reports.
Once the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities enters into force, monitoring will be achieved via the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Conference of States Parties.
For more information:
Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and Optional Protocol
Monitoring of the Convention
Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities
Standard Rules: Monitoring Mechanism
What does the Special Rapporteur on disability do?
The United Nations Standard Rules for the Equalization of Opportunities of Persons with Disabilities provides for the appointment of a Special Rapporteur to monitor the implementation of the Rules. The Special Rapporteur reports yearly to the Commission for Social Development. The reports present findings on the promotion and monitoring of the implementation of the Standard Rules and present recommendations, as requested by the Commission, on their further development. In carrying out his/her functions, the Special Rapporteur establishes a direct dialogue with Member States and with local non-governmental organizations and experts, seeking their views and comments on any information intended to be included in the reports.
For more information:
Activities of the Special Rapporteur
Does the UN provide funding to organizations for persons with disabilities in their activities?
The United Nations provides support to organizations for persons with disabilities in their activities through the UN Voluntary Fund on Disability. Funding priority is targeted to building the capacity of non-governmental organizations to take part in the making of the Convention and its future implementation. The Fund also provide small grants to support catalytic and innovative action, which will promote greater awareness of disability issues and exchanges of knowledge and experience and promote wide dissemination of appropriate disability technologies.
For more information:
United Nations Voluntary Fund on Disability
Where can I find UN documents related to disability?
Official UN documents which include the reports of the Secretary-General, the Ad Hoc Committee, the Economic and Social Council, the Commission for Social Development, World Health Assembly and General Assembly resolutions and decisions, can be found on this website at the following link: Disability and the United Nations
DISTAT – United Nations Disability Statistics Database
Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities – 2006
(in different languages and formats)
(* Signatories include countries or regional integration organizations that have signed the Convention and its Optional Protocol)
Training Guide on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol – 2014
Monitoring the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol – 2010
Millenium Development Goals – MDGs
High-level meeting of the General Assembly on disability and development:
The way forward: a disability inclusive development agenda towards 2015 and beyond
Resolutions and Reports on Disability
69th session, 2014 – 2015
Realizing the Millennium Development Goals and other internationally agreed development goals for persons with disabilities towards 2015 and beyond (Adopted by GA Plenary on 18 December 2014 as A/RES/69/142. Advanced unedited text, final official version forthcoming)
Report of the Secretary-General: Realization of the Millennium Development Goals and other internationally agreed development goals for persons with disabilities: a disability-inclusive development agenda towards 2015 and beyond (A/69/187)
Report of the Secretary-General: Status of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Optional Protocol thereto (A/69/284)
68th session, 2013 – 2014
Outcome document of the high-level meeting of the General Assembly on the realization of the Millennium Development Goals and other internationally agreed development goals for persons with disabilities: the way forward, a disability-inclusive development agenda towards 2015 and beyond (A/RES/68/3)
Assistance in mine action (A/RES/68/72, OP. 10)
Report of the Secretary-General: The way forward: a disability-inclusive development agenda
towards 2015 and beyond (A/68/95)
67th session, 2012 – 2013
Report of the Secretary-General: Realization of the Millennium Development Goals and internationally agreed development goals for persons with disabilities: a disability-inclusive development agenda towards 2015 and beyond (A/67/211)
66th session, 2011 – 2012
Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Optional Protocol thereto (A/RES/66/229)
High-level Meeting on Realization of the Millennium Development Goals and Other Internationally Agreed Development Goals for Persons with Disabilities (A/RES/66/124)
World Down Syndrome Day (A/RES/66/149)
65th session, 2010 – 2011
Commission for Social Development
2015 – 53rd session
Report of the Special Rapporteur on Disability of the Commission for Social Development: Monitoring of the implementation of the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities ( E/CN.5/2015/5)
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2014 – 52nd session
Report of the Special Rapporteur on Disability of the Commission for Social Development: Monitoring of the implementation of the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities ( E/CN.5/2014/7)
2013 – 51st session
Special Rapporteur on Disability
Toward a disability-inclusive post-2015 development framework: Regional perspectives (12 February, Conference Room 4, 1.15 to 2.30 p.m..
Report of the Special Rapporteur to the 51st Session of the Commission for Social Development: Note by the Secretary-General on monitoring of the implementation of the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities(E/CN.5/2013/10)
Experts speak to South-South News during the Commission; watch video:http://tinyurl.com/cfqrb2u
2012 – 50th session
Report of the Special Rapporteur to the 50th Session of the Commission for Social Development: Note by the Secretary-General on monitoring of the implementation of the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities(E/CN.5/2012/7)
2011 – 49 session
2010 – 48 session
Special Envoy on Disability and Accessibility – Lenín Voltaire Moreno Garces of Ecuador
Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA)
– UN Secretariat for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
UN Human Rights Council
– Committee on the rights of persons with disabilities
Elections for the Committee
The Human Rights Council adopted a resolution on “Rights of persons with disabilities: participation in political and public life” without a vote on 22 March 2012.
Read the draft resolution in word format.
Read the adopted resolution in pdf format.
Third annual Interactive Debate of the Human Rights Council on ‘International cooperation in support of national efforts for the realization of the purposes and objectives of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
Human Rights Council – Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities – Catalina Devandas
Last week, during the fifty-third session of the Commission for Social Development, I presented the areas of interest and priority issues of my mandate in relation to disability and development: post-2015 development agenda; social protection; data collection and statistics; and situations of risk and humanitarian emergencies.
Concluding its fifty-third session, the Commission for Social Development approved by consensus a draft resolution on promoting the rights of persons with disabilities (document E/CN.5/2015/L.5): http://goo.gl/x1cIjd
For information on the Commission for Social Development:http://goo.gl/AyJVHu
Towards an Inclusive and Accessible Future for All – Voices of persons with disabilities on the post 2015 development framework, UNPRPD – 2013
ILO – International Labour Organization
UNISDR – Office for Disaster Risk Reduction
3rd World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai, Japan from 14-18 March 2015
Sendai WCDRR will be disability-inclusive
UNHCR – UN Refugee Agency
UNICEF – UN Children’s Fund
Disability Senior Advisor – Rosangela Berman-Bieler
Publications and texts
The State of the World’s Children 2013: Children with Disabilities[English] [French] [Spanish ] – Video SummaryThematic Flyers: Education; Health; Child protection; HIV/AIDS; Nutrition;
Data collection; Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH); Gender; ECDTake Us Seriously– Engaging Children with Disabilities in Decisions Affecting their Lives:[PDF] [Easy to Read PDF] [ebook] [HTML – zip file ] [Daisy – zip file]Spanish [PDF] French [PDF]UNICEF Guidelines for Disability Situation Analyses – GuidanceFactsheet on Children With Disabilities – 2013Spanish [PDF] French [PDF]Innocenti Digest No. 13: Promoting the Rights of Children with Disabilities – 2007 The Innocenti Digest on Promoting the Rights of Children with Disabilities attempts to provide a global perspective on the situation of the some 200 million children with disabilities. The Digest is based on reports from countries across regions and from a wide range of sources.Monitoring Child Disability in Developing Countries– Results from the Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys – 2008Despite the global interest in child disability, relatively little is known about the situation of children with disabilities, particularly in developing countries. As a first step toward addressing this paucity of information, UNICEF recommended inclusion of a disability module, the Ten Questions screen for child disability, in its Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS).Guidance for Establishing a National Partnership on Children with Disabilities (NPcwd) 013HIV and AIDS and Disability – Towards an AIDS-Free Generation: Promoting Community- Based Strategies for and with Children with DisabilitiesThe Right of Children with Disabilities to Education: A Rights-Based Approach to Inclusive EducationEarly Childhood development and Disability. A discussion paper. UNICEF and WHO – 2012It’s About Ability, An explanation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, UNICEF, 2008 This publication explains the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to children. It’s main purpose is to empower children, with and without disabilities, to play their part in challenging discrimination and promoting the Convention’s principles.Disability Prevention Efforts and Disability Rights: Finding Common Ground on Immunization Efforts – UNICEF Working Paper developed with support from Leonard Cheshire Disability and Inclusive Development Centre, University College London
WHO – World Health Organization
WHO Publications and texts on Disabilities
World Report on Disabilities – 2011
WHO global disability action plan 2014–2021
Early Childhood Development and Disability – 2012
Let’s communicate: a handbook for people working with children with communication difficulties (1997)
Joint position paper on the provision of mobility devices in less-resourced settings – 2011
Guidelines for training personnel in developing countries for prosthetic and orthotic services (2005)
Guidelines on the provision of manual wheelchairs in less-resourced settings – 2008
Wheelchair Service Training Package – Basic level – 2012
Guidelines on community-based rehabilitation (CBR) – 2010
Disability and emergency risk management for health guidance Note – 2013
Eliminating forced, coercive and otherwise involuntary sterilization Statement – 2014
– Messenger of Peace – Stevie Wonder – Focus area – persons with disabilities
International Day of Persons with Disabilities (3/12)
World Down Syndrome Day (21/3)
World Autism Awareness Day – (2/4)
International Day for Disaster Reduction – 2013 (13/10)
Living with Disabilities and Disasters
World Telecommunication and Information Society Day – 2008 (17/5)
Connecting Persons with Disabilities – ICT Opportunities for All
International Day of Families – 2007 (15/5)
Families with Disabilities
UN Partnership to promote the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Multi-Donor Trust Fund (UNPRPD MDTF)
Civil Society Reactions to the UN Secretary-General’s Synthesis Report on the Post-2015 Development Agenda
World Bank – Disability and Development
Disability and poverty in developing countries : a snapshot from the world health survey (English) – 2011
Improving accessibility to transport for People with Limited Mobility (PLM) : a practical guidance note (English) – 2013