Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: Reservations and Interpretative Declaration - Human Rights Joint Committee

In January, we published a report on the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The UK was closely involved in drawing up the Convention, which consolidates and confirms existing rights relating to disabled people, and was one of the first signatories, in 2006. We welcomed the Government's intention to ratify the Convention but drew attention to proposals for reservations and interpretative declarations. We were concerned that there had been insufficient scrutiny of these proposals, not least because draft texts had not been published, and that the Office for Disability Issues had not robustly challenged Government departments about their proposals.

The Government laid the Convention before Parliament on 3 March, heralding the beginning of the ratification process. Four reservations and one interpretative declaration were proposed. We have criticised the Government for ruling out formal consultation on these proposals and also drawn attention to the limited opportunities for parliamentary scrutiny and control of the ratification of treaties.

We agree that ratification should take priority over potentially lengthy and futile discussions about whether or not to enter reservations but we are concerned that the Government's approach to some of the reservations has been unduly cautious and may detract from the position role the UK has played in relation to the Convention.

We consider that the reservation relating to service in the armed forces is open to challenge as incompatible with the object and purpose of the Convention. It is based on the exemption for the armed forces from the Disability Discrimination Act which we doubt is necessary.

The reservation relating to immigration control is, in our view, too broad and its purpose has not been adequately explained. We recommend that it should be dropped.

We accept that a lack of clarity in the Convention may necessitate a reservation and interpretative declaration in relation to education, but express concern that the scope of both may have sent a confused message to people with disabilities about the purpose and intention of the Government's position. We call on the Government to clarify matters.

We agree that the existing treatment of benefits appointees is incompatible with the requirements of the Convention and therefore necessitates a reservation. We recommend that the Government should consult on how to deal with this issue, without undue delay.


Download: Word Document: UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: Reservations and Interpretative Declaration - Human Rights Joint Committee (0 KB)
By: United Kingdom Parliament
When: 7/2/2014

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