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The UN Inquiry into the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the UK

Published Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is conducting an inquiry into the impact of the UK Government's policies on people with disabilities in relation to their human rights obligations. This briefing paper provides information on the Committee, details of the inquiry and an overview of the Government's policies in relation to people with disabilities.

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At the end of August 2015, it was revealed in the national press that the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was to conduct an inquiry into the impact of the UK Government’s policies on the rights of disabled people.

The inquiry is being conducted under the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, to which the UK has been a signatory since 2007. The Optional Protocol allows the UN Committee to investigate a State Party if they have received reliable evidence of ‘grave and systematic violations of the Convention’.

Investigations by the Committee are confidential, and the process, extent and scope of this inquiry are unknown. However, it is believed the inquiry will consider policies introduced by the Coalition Government since 2010 in relation to welfare and social security benefits, and in particular their compatibility with Articles 19 and 28: the rights of persons with disabilities to live independently and to enjoy an adequate standard of living.

The UK is the first country to be investigated by the UN in relation to this Convention.

This paper gives some background to the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Convention, as well as providing an overview of what we know about the UN inquiry. It then outlines a selection of policies introduced under the Coalition Government which have had an impact on people with a disability covering housing, education, welfare, justice, healthcare and employment.

The UN Committee report, along with the UK Government’s response, is not expected to be published until 2017.

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