Introduction to the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
Graphic: Theresia Degener, Chairperson of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
- The Committee monitors implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
- States parties to the Convention must submit periodic reports to the Committee.
- NHRIs should engage with the Committee as part of their role to monitor implementation of the Convention.
What is the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities?
The Committee is a body established by the UN Human Rights Council to monitor implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). It is made up of 18 independent experts, who are nominated by States and elected for a four-year term (for a maximum of two terms).
How does the Committee work?
The Committee normally meets in Geneva and holds two sessions each year. All States parties to the Convention must submit regular reports to the Committee: the first within two years of ratifying the Convention, and then every four years.
The Committee examines each report, makes findings and provides recommendations, known as 'concluding observations', to support the State in its efforts to implement the Convention and promote and protect the rights of people with disabilities.
The Committee undertakes a number of other important functions:
- Clarifying aspects of the Convention through general comments: General comments assist States, national human rights institutions (NHRIs) and civil society to better understand the Committee's position on complex questions of policy and practice regarding implementation of the Convention.
- Supporting capacity-building activities with States parties: The Committee can act as 'focal point' within the UN system for States, including NHRIs, to address challenges they may face in implementing the Convention.
- Assessing communications under the Optional Protocol: Individuals or groups in signatory States may make a complaint, known as a 'communication', to the Committee.
- Conducting inquiries under the Optional Protocol: The Committee may inquire into claims of grave or systemic violations of the Convention, including through country visits, followed by a confidential review process, in cooperation with the State concerned.
Graphic: Annual meeting of the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions, Geneva, 2018
How can NHRIs contribute to the State examination process?
National human rights institutions (NHRIs) are encouraged to submit a 'parallel report' to the Committee as part of the process for examining progress made by the State party to implement the Convention.
The parallel report should:
- Provide concise, specific, reliable and objective information on implementation of the Convention
- Highlight systemic or emerging human rights concerns.
The NHRI can also contribute to the list of issues to be raised with the State, as well as suggest recommendations for the Committee to make to the State in its concluding observations.
NHRIs should follow up on the recommendations made to the State in the Committee's concluding observations and monitor their implementation over time.
This flow chart identifies the steps involved in the State party review conducted by the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. NHRIs can contribute at different points to highlight pressing issues and propose recommendations that can be made to their State.
How can NHRIs participate in the work of the Committee?
In August 2016, the Committee adopted guidelines on independent monitoring frameworks and their participation in the work of the Committee.
The Guidelines formalise emerging practice and provide a platform to strengthen the engagement of NHRIs with the Committee. They build on similar guidelines adopted by other treaty monitoring bodies. As such, they contribute to the broader move across the UN system to create more opportunities for NHRIs to contribute to their work.
The guidelines cover several important themes:
- The need for independence of NHRIs
- The role of NHRIs in the Committee's review and recommendations process
- The role of States to equip and enable the work of NHRIs
- The role of NHRIs to address reprisals against human rights defenders.
The guidelines make clear that the Committee strongly encourages the active engagement of NHRIs in monitoring implementation of the Convention. Regardless of whether an NHRI is formally part of the national monitoring framework (article 33(2)), the Committee welcomes the participation of NHRIs in its work to realise the rights of people with disabilities.
Find out more
Chapter 4 of Human Rights and Disability: A Manual for National Human Rights Institutions (APF, 2017)
Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN website)
- Theresia Degener, Chairperson of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities - UN Photo/Kim Haughton, Flickr; http://bit.ly/2H1zU9l
- Annual meeting of the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions, Geneva, 2018 - Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions
- Flow chart of NHRI engagement in CRPD treaty monitoring process - APF