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#CRPD: 10 years of Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities - #UN event to discuss challenges and goals for next 10 years

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disabilityThe theme of this year’s Social Forum of the UN Human Rights Council to be in held in Geneva from 3-5 October, is 'Promotion of the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities'.

The forum, which takes place in the framework of the 10th anniversary year of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, will bring together Member States, UN experts, national human rights institutions and civil society from across the world to discuss progress since the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and the challenges ahead.

Among the issues to be discussed are accessibility and non-discrimination, strengthening equality and accountability, and ensuring the meaningful participation and empowerment of persons with disabilities. The discussions will also focus on the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda in the context of the CRPD, with a view to recommending concrete actions to ensure “The Future We Want”.

The Forum will take place in Room XX of the Palais des Nations in Geneva and will be webcast.

Draft programme of work and additional information about the 2016 Social Forum.

Background

Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

The Social Forum of the Human Rights Council

The Social Forum is an annual three-day meeting convened by the Human Rights Council. It is defined as a unique space for open and interactive dialogue between civil society actors, representatives of member states, and intergovernmental organizations, on a theme chosen by the Council each year.

Disabilities

Equality: 12th edition of EU Access City Award open for applications

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The 12th Access City Award competition is now open for applications. The award rewards cities that have made particular efforts to be accessible and inclusive for persons with disabilities. EU cities with more than 50,000 inhabitants can apply until 8 September 2021. The 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners will receive prizes of €150,000, €120,000 and €80,000 respectively. Because 2021 is the European Year of Rail, the Commission will give a special mention to a city that has made outstanding efforts to make its train stations accessible for all.

Equality Commissioner Helena Dalli said: “Several cities across the EU are leading the way in creating more accessible spaces. With the EU Access City Award we reward these efforts and make them more visible. All of us have a responsibility to make Europe fully accessible. This is why accessibility is one of the priorities in the EU's new Strategy for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, presented in March.”

Last year's winner of the Access City Award was Jönköping in Sweden. The award-winners will be announced at the European Day of Persons with Disabilities conference on 3 December 2021. For more information on the award and how to apply, please visit the Access City Award 2022 webpage.

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A new ambitious EU Disability Strategy for 2021-2030

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Following Parliament’s recommendations, the European Commission adopted an ambitious post-2020 disability strategy. Discover its priorities. Society 

The European Parliament called for an inclusive society in which the rights of people living with disabilities are protected and where there is no discrimination.

In June 2020, Parliament set out its priorities for a new post-2020 EU Disability Strategy, building upon the European Disability Strategy for 2010-2020.

In March 2021, the Commission adopted the Strategy for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2021-2030 encompassing Parliament’s main recommendations:

  • The mainstreaming of the rights of all people living with disabilities into all policies and areas.
  • Recovery and mitigation measures to avoid people with disabilities getting disproportionally affected by health crises such as COVID-19.
  • Equal access for people with disabilities to health care, employment, public transport, housing.
  • The implementation and further development of the EU disability card pilot project, which allows for the mutual recognition of disabilities in some EU countries.
  • People with disabilities, their families and organisations were part of the dialogue and will be part of the process of implementation.

People living with disabilities in Europe: facts and figures  

  • There are an estimated 87 million people with disabilities in the EU.
  • The employment rate of people with disabilities (aged 20-64) stands at 50.8%, compared to 75% for people without disabilities. 
  • 28.4% of people with disabilities in the EU are at risk of poverty or social exclusion, compared to 17.8% of the general population.  
A differently-abled man working in an amputee shop for production of prosthetic extremity parts.©Hedgehog94/AdobeStock
A man working in an amputee shop on the production of a prosthetic extremity parts.©Hedgehog94/AdobeStock  

EU disability measures so far

The European Disability Strategy was put in place to implement the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 

  • An international legally binding human rights treaty setting minimum standards to protect the rights of people with disabilities 
  • The EU and all member states have ratified it 
  • Both EU and member states are obliged to implement the obligations, according to their competences 

Among the concrete initiatives launched thanks to the European Disability Strategy is the European Accessibility Act, which ensures that more products and services like smartphones, tablets, ATMs or e-books are accessible to people with disabilities.

The directive on web accessibility means people with disabilities have easier access to online data and services online because websites and apps operated by public sector institutions, such as hospitals, courts or universities, are required to be accessible.

The Erasmus+ student exchange programme promotes the mobility of participants with disabilities.

EU rules also ensure improved access to transport and better passenger rights for people living with disabilities.

Find out more on EU policies for a more social Europe.

Find out more 

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Union of Equality: European Commission presents Strategy for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2021-2030

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On 3 March, the European Commission presented an ambitious Strategy for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2021-2030 to ensure their full participation in society, on an equal basis with others in the EU and beyond, in line with the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, which establish equality and non-discrimination as cornerstones of EU policies. Persons with disabilities have the right to take part in all areas of life, just like everyone else. Even though the past decades brought progress in access to healthcare, education, employment, recreation activities and participation in political life, many obstacles remain. It is time to scale up European action.

The new strategy builds on its predecessor, the European Disability Strategy 2010-2020, and contributes to the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights for which an Action Plan will be adopted by the Commission this week, which serves as a compass for employment and social policies in Europe. The strategy supports implementation by the EU and its Member States of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities at both EU and national levels.

Values and Transparency Vice President Vera Jourová said: “The protection of the rights of persons with disabilities has to be at the centre of our efforts, including in our response to the coronavirus. People with disabilities have been among those hit hardest by the COVID-19 crisis. We must strive to ensure that people with disabilities quality of life improves and their rights are guaranteed!”

“Since its inception, the European project focused on removing barriers, in line with its vision of a Union in Diversity. However, many persons with disabilities continue to face obstacles, for instance when looking for a job or using public transport,” said Equality Commissioner Helena Dalli. She added: “People with disabilities should be able to participate equally in all areas of life. Living independently, learning in an inclusive environment, and working under appropriate standards are conditions that we need to ensure to all citizens to enable them to flourish and live life to the fullest.”

Enhancing equal participation and non-discrimination

The ten-year strategy sets out key initiatives around three main themes:

  • EU rights: Persons with disabilities have the same right as other EU citizens to move to another country or to participate in political life. Building on the experience of the pilot project ongoing in eight countries, by the end of 2023 the European Commission will propose a European Disability Card for all EU countries that will facilitate mutual recognition of disability status between Member States, helping disabled people enjoy their right of free movement. The Commission will also work closely with member states to ensure the participation of persons with disabilities in the electoral process in 2023.
  • Independent living and autonomy: Persons with disabilities have the right to live independently and choose where and with whom they want to live. To support independent living and inclusion in the community, the Commission will develop guidance and launch an initiative to improve social services for persons with disabilities.
  • Non-discrimination and equal opportunities: The strategy aims to protect persons with disabilities from any form of discrimination and violence. It aims to ensure equal opportunities in and access to justice, education, culture, sport and tourism. Equal access must also be guaranteed to all health services and employment.

It is impossible to participate in society on an equal basis with others when your environment – physical or virtual – is not accessible. Thanks to a solid EU legal framework (e.g. the European Accessibility ActWeb Accessibility DirectivePassenger Rights) access has improved, however, many areas are still not covered by EU rules, and there are differences in the accessibility of buildings, public spaces, and some modes of transport. Therefore, the European Commission will launch a European resource centre ‘AccessibleEU' in 2022, to build a knowledge base of information and good practices on accessibility across sectors.  

Delivering the strategy: Close co-operation with EU countries and mainstreaming in internal and external policies

Delivering on the strategy's ambitions will require a strong commitment from all Member States. EU countries are key actors in the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The Commission will establish the Disability Platform, bringing together national authorities responsible for implementation of the Convention, organisations of persons with disabilities and the Commission to support implementation of the strategy and to enhance cooperation and exchange on implementing the Convention. The Platform will have a comprehensive online presence and ensure continuity of activities throughout the year. Persons with disabilities will be part of the dialogue and part of the process of implementing the Strategy for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2021-2030.

The Commission will integrate disability matters into all EU policies and major initiatives. Because the rights of persons with disabilities do not end at Europe's borders, the Commission will promote the rights of persons with disabilities globally. With this strategy, the EU will reinforce its role as an advocate for the rights of persons with disabilities. The EU will use instruments such as technical assistance and financial programmes, support via EU delegation, political dialogues and work in multilateral fora to support partner countries in their endeavours to implement the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and provide guidance to implement the SDGs in a disability inclusive manner.

Background

As announced by President von der Leyen, the Strategy for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2021-2030 contributes to building the Union of Equality, together with the LGBTIQ Equality Strategy 2020-2025, the EU Anti-Racism Action Plan 2020-2025, the Gender Equality Strategy 2020-2025 and the EU Roma Strategic Framework.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), adopted by the UN in 2006, was a breakthrough for the rights of persons with disabilities: all member states are party to it, and it is the first human rights convention concluded also by the EU. Parties to the Convention are required to promote, protect and fulfil the human rights of all persons with disabilities and ensure their equality under the law. With this Strategy, the Commission provides the framework supporting EU and Member States' actions to implement the UNCRPD.

The European Disability Strategy 2010-2020 paved the way to a barrier-free Europe, for example with directives such as the European Accessibility Act, that requires key products and services such as phones, computers, e-books, banking services and electronic communications to be accessible and usable for persons with a variety of disabilities. EU passenger rights ensure that persons with disabilities have access to road, air, rail or sea travel. Through policies for international cooperation, the EU has also led the way globally in promoting the inclusion and full participation of persons with disabilities.

More information

Communication: Union of Equality: Strategy for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2021-2030

Easy-to-read version: Strategy for the rights of persons with disabilities 2021-2030

Q&A: Strategy for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2021-2030

Factsheet: Strategy for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2021-2030

News in easy-to-read: The European Commission puts out a new strategy to protect the rights of persons with disabilities

More information on EU initiatives for persons with disabilities

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