Last year the UK government ratified the United Nation Convention on the Rights of Disabled People. This forces UN member states to take active steps to ensure that the human rights of disabled people are respected. It is a very important and powerful process that affects all disabled people. It actively promotes equality and the inclusion of disabled people in society. The Convention, now signed, requires the UK government to change laws and policies, eliminate discrimination and actively consult with disabled people and their organizations. It covers a range of rights, including; the right to life, freedom from inhumane and degrading treatment, respect for integrity, privacy, family life, access to information, health, education, work and living standards. The Convention is based on the social model of disability and requires that disabling barriers and attitudes are removed. However, the Convention is not enforced by going to court rather disabled people can use it as campaigning tool and make reference to it when challenging decisions and policies that affect our lives. You can find out more about the Convention on the UN website at www.un.org/disabilities.
The Convention requires the UK government to monitor and report to the UN on how well they think they have done in protecting and promoting the human rights of disabled people. The UN committee then tells the UK government what they think they have done well on, and where they can improve. It is important for the UN and the government to hear the real life voices and experiences of disabled people. Many of us face barriers every day, our human rights are denied too often, but we could work and use the Convention to make these rights a reality. The United Kingdom Disabled Peoples Council (UKDPC) and 9 Disabled Persons Organisations across England are working together on a project called Disability Rights Watch and have developed a website to collect information and evidence. You can go online to tell your story if you, have or think you may have experienced a situation when you were discriminated, excluded, disrespected or treated differently because you are a disabled person, please get in touch and tell us what happened. This information will be used to create a report that will inform the UN about the human rights for disabled people and shape future policy in the UK. Please find further information attached . Sheffield Centre for Independent Living ( Sheffield CIL ) is supporting the project if you need any further information or assistance.