I am currently undergoing research into the protection of children with disabilities in the education system. Obviously I had to start with the basics of international human rights law. Upon research I decided to write a short post on the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).
United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
Here is a quick breakdown of the Convention:
The preamble states the commitment signatory and ratifying States have made to the promotion of the rights of persons with disabilities and their protection. It highlights the evolving nature of disability rights and encourages the respect of these rights and their importance in an inclusive society. It recognizes the particular risk of girls and women with disabilities in society.
Articles 1 – 4 General Definitions
Articles 1-4 contain the general information and purpose of the convention, to protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities.
The purpose of this convention is to ensure the full and effective participation and inclusion of persons with disabilities in society. There is a particular emphasis put on children with disabilities and their potential in society.
Article 5-18 Civil-Political Rights
Articles 5 – 18 focus on civil and political rights including the right to life, education, recognition before the law, access to justice, freedom from torture, and integrity.
Article 7 is dedicated to the promotion of children with disabilities in education and their contribution to society both at a young age and in the future. The Convention also requires the raising of awareness under Article 8. The State has an obligation to promote awareness of the capabilities and contributions of persons with disabilities. States are also encouraged to make public buildings as accessible as possible for persons with disabilities (including the use of braille, sign language interpreters and guides).
Articles 10 – 18 focus on personal rights of those with disabilities. Article 16 highlights the particular vulnerability of young girls with disabilities to exploitation, violence and abuse. Additional protection must be afforded to young children with disabilities.
Articles 19-30 Socio-economic Rights
Articles 19-30 place emphasis on the socio-economic rights of persons with disabilities and their place in society. The State parties to the convention have the obligation to protect and promote the social and economic rights of persons with disabilities. This includes the rights to education, health, home and family, work and participation in society.
Article 24 details the right to education. It promotes the establishment of an inclusive education system to ensure the full development of human potential and sense of dignity and self-worth of persons with disabilities. Children with disabilities should not be segregated or isolated from the mainstream education system. The goal of every state should be to have full inclusion of children in the main education system. It also promotes the appointment of teachers with disabilities.
Articles 29 & 30 encourage the inclusion of persons with disabilities in political and public life, and in cultural life, recreation, leisure and sport. The goal to have an inclusive society to encourage acceptance.
Articles 31-50 International Obligations
Articles 31-50 are based on the legal obligations placed on States under the Convention including reporting, statistic gathering, technical information on the convention (including entry into force, amendments and denunciation) and inter-state cooperation.
Article 34 details the creation of Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to monitor the implementation of the CRPD in ratifying member states. State parties must issue a report to the Committee initially upon ratification and subsequently every four years (Article 35).
Ireland signed the Convention in March 2007 but is yet to ratify it into Irish law. As a result Ireland is not monitored by the Committee, nor obligated to legally implement any of its content.
This is a real shame and failure on the part of the Irish government. The convention ensures the social inclusion of those with disabilities in a country where disability rights are not entirely a priority. Children with disabilities are often placed in “special education” schools or classes. 25% of children in Ireland have some form of disability, clearly greater inclusion in education.
Inclusion of children with disabilities in main stream education would encourage the development of acceptance and inclusion in all children. The social development and values that would be encouraged would be invalid as a more inclusive society would develop.
10 years on one should remain hopeful that at some point the Irish government will ratify the treaty and commit itself to the development and protection of the rights of those with disabilities.