UKDPC calls for central role in monitoring UN convention


The UK’s leading disabled people’s organisation will tell the government this week that it wants to take a lead role in monitoring how the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is implemented in Britain.

Jaspal Dhani, chief executive of the United Kingdom Disabled People’s Council (UKDPC), said other disabled people’s organisations were backing its bid to play a major part in assessing how the convention is affecting disabled people’s daily lives.

He is due to meet officials from the Office for Disability Issues (ODI) on Tuesday (9 February) to discuss the UKDPC proposal.

Dhani said: “We want to position various DPOs up and down the country to become reporting houses so people can report their issues to them to build up the picture of how life is changing, or not changing.

“The principle is that these issues should be placed in the hands of disabled people.”

UKDPC would work alongside the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) and the government, which both have monitoring roles under the convention.

Dhani said UKDPC also wanted to use the convention to help boost the rights of disabled people globally, through sharing ideas and good practice with other countries.

His comments came after Neil Crowther, the EHRC’s disability programme director, told a parliamentary meeting that the convention would have “great significance” for the future of disability rights in Britain.

Crowther told the all-party parliamentary disability group that it was vital to raise awareness of the convention among disabled people.

The EHRC has commissioned RADAR and the British Institute of Human Rights to produce practical guidance to show disabled people and their organisations how to use the convention to fight for their rights.

The EHRC is the independent body chosen by the government – alongside fellow commissions in Scotland and Northern Ireland – to promote, protect and monitor implementation.

Crowther said the EHRC could decide later this year to hold an inquiry if it believes there is “particular resistance” to implementing the convention among government departments or public bodies.

It is also planning further work to challenge the government’s four “reservations” in the areas of education, immigration, defence and benefits.

James Wolfe, the ODI’s deputy director, said the convention was “a uniquely powerful instrument”, and the ODI’s role was to link it to disabled people’s experiences of public services.

He said he and Jonathan Shaw, the minister for disabled people, expected a “robust debate” about the government’s reservations and associated policies.

3 February 2010