UK faces UN examination: Government agrees to think again on engagement

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The government has agreed to “reflect” on its failure to engage with disabled people and their organisations, after facing public criticism from a UN committee of disabled human rights experts.

A delegation of civil servants from across the UK government listened as members of the UN committee on the rights of person with disabilities (CRPD) repeatedly criticised its failure to engage with disabled people’s organisations (DPOs).

They were taking part in a two-day public examination of the UK’s progress in implementing the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, in Geneva.

CRPD member Samuel Njuguna Kabue said the evidence he had received from DPOs disputed the UK government’s claim that it consulted with disabled people and their organisations when drawing up policies and making decisions.

He said disabled people and their organisations said they had not been “adequately involved” in monitoring the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, as they should be under article 33 of the convention.

Another member, Monthian Buntan, also disputed the UK government’s claim that it was committed to enabling the active participation of disabled people in decision-making, and forming and implementing and monitoring policy.

He called for more detail from the government on whether it had taken action to “ensure the support which enabled organisations of persons with disabilities to really effectively participate in this ongoing process of decision-making, implementation and monitoring”.

And he contrasted the UK government’s apparent failure with the efforts of the devolved governments.

Karen Jochelson, the head of the Office for Disability Issues, who led the UK delegation, said the government was planning to use the “concluding observations” of the committee, when they were published, “to help inform our future thinking on engagement”.

She said: “We have noted this dialogue’s emphasis on engaging with disabled people and DPOs in decision-making and policy-making.

“We will reflect on this as we plan our next steps following publication of the concluding observations.”