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How is our work influencing life in Northern Ireland and delivering equality? Learn more about our policy, legal and research work.
 
 

Key developments

Independent Mechanism for N. Ireland
& UK Independent Mechanism
Disability
UNCRPD Key Developments

The United Kingdom, including Northern Ireland, have ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).

The UK uses an independent process to ensure the Convention is properly implemented. The Equality Commission for Northern Ireland and NI Human Rights Commission form the 'Independent Mechanism for Northern Ireland' (IMNI) which promotes, protects and monitors implementation of UNCRPD here. Together with the Equality and Human Rights Commission (GB) and Scottish Human Rights Commission we form the United Kingdom's Independent Mechanism (UKIM).

The UK submits regular reports to the UN Committee on how the rights enshrined in the Convention are being implemented. The UN Committee examines each report and then forwards recommendations in the form of concluding observations. This follows IMNI's participation in the formal examination process having worked closely with stakeholders to highlight key issues crucial to the realisation of Convention rights.

You can read recent submissions and reports, including the Committee’s most recent concluding observations issued in August 2017, below.

Research into Progress Towards the Implementation of the UNCRPD in Northern Ireland (2022)

This research report is a review of the work on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) undertaken within Northern Ireland (NI).  The research was undertaken by Disability Action, on behalf of the Equality Commission NI, to assist the Independent Mechanism for Northern Ireland with evidence of any substantive shortfalls of public policies and programme delivery relating to the UNCRPD.

Download the report 'Progress towards the implementation of UNCRPD in Northern Ireland':

 

 

Submission to Draft General Comment on Article 27 on the right of persons with disabilities to work

 

IMNI submission to Inquiry into the uneven impact of Covid-19: Disability and Access to Services (July 2020)

 

IMNI to establish Disability Forum and call on Government to take action (March 2020)

The Equality Commission and the NI Human Rights Commission, acting as the Independent Mechanism in Northern Ireland (IMNI) under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), are establishing a disability stakeholder forum.

The IMNI Disability Forum will involve persons with disabilities and their representative organisations to further assist both organisations to deliver their joint role to promote, protect and monitor implementation of UNCRPD in Northern Ireland.  The Forum will also inform wider engagement to support and challenge government to give effect to the UNCRPD in Northern Ireland.

The establishment of the Forum is a result of ongoing involvement with stakeholders regarding how best we can work together to protect and monitor the implementation of the CRPD. Involvement in independent monitoring is however not a replacement for the direct involvement of disabled people in the work of government to implement the CRPD and make Convention rights a reality across Northern Ireland.  

We call again for the creation of a regional disability forum by the Department for Communities (DfC), as was committed to in the last Programme for Government, to involve people with disabilities in the design, delivery and review of key actions by government to advance and mainstream key disability issues.  We also call on government to ensure the sufficient funding of Disabled Persons Organisations and disabled people, to enable their full and effective involvement.

The Equality Commission and the NI Human Rights Commission will be engaging further with stakeholders to establish the IMNI Disability Forum with a membership that is representative of disabled people and their representative organisations.

 
 

IMNI report on the Department for Communities response to Independent Review of PIP Process (July 2019)

 

UKIM one year follow-on review of rights of disabled people in the UK (Oct 2018)

In August 2017, the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD Committee) examined the extent to which the UK and devolved governments are in compliance with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD). The CRPD Committee’s main concerns and recommendations to the UK governments are set out in its ‘concluding observations’.  The CRPD Committee requested information from the UK one year on from the examination of the steps taken to implement its recommendations on: independent living; work and employment; and an adequate standard of living and social protection; as well as some related issues covered in the report on the CRPD Committee’s 2016 inquiry

The following report provides the independent view of the UK Independent Mechanism (UKIM) on the steps taken by the UK governments to implement these recommendations since August 2017.

 
 

UKIM briefing for Westminster debate on welfare reform (June 2018)

Our work as part of IMNI informed two UKIM briefing documents sent to participants in the Westminster Hall debate on 20 June 2018. The topic of the debate was the response of the UK Government to the UNCRPD’s report on the its progress on implementing the Convention.

Download our key concerns about social security reforms and protecting disability rights in the UK:
 
 

UN Committee's concluding observations following UK State Party examination (2017)

On 31st August 2017, the UN Committee issued its concluding observations on how the UK, including Northern Ireland, is delivering on its obligations to those with disabilities. This follows IMNI's participation in the formal examination process as part of the UKIM delegation, having worked closely with stakeholders to highlight key issues crucial to the realisation of Convention rights.
 
 

Earlier submissions & developments

 
 


Get Involved - what can you do to help?
As the Independent Mechanism for Northern Ireland, we are continuing in our efforts to ensure you are central to our work, and encouraging you to directly engage with the UN Committee to drive change. We are always interested in your views on the gaps between public policy and programmes in Northern Ireland and the requirements of the UNCRPD.
 
  • Email us:  CRPDenquiries@equalityni.org
  • Phone us: 028 90 500 570
  • Tweet us: @EqualityCommNI
  • Write to us: Independent Mechanism for NI, Equality Commission NI, Equality House, 7-9 Shaftesbury Square, Belfast BT2 7DP


 
< What is UNCRPD?
< Addressing inequality
Get involved >
(The Optional Protocol)
 
The Equality Commission for NI and the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission meet as a joint committee as part of the Independent Mechanism for Northern Ireland (IMNI).

If you are interested in learning more about our meetings see our agenda and minutes of meetings below:

 

 




< What is UNCRPD?
< Addressing inequality
Get involved >
(The Optional Protocol)
 

UNRCPD Related Activities


The Equality Commission continues to undertake targeted and proactive engagements and partnership working on our proposals for legislative and policy reform with key stakeholders, political parties, Assembly Committees, OFMdFM and other relevant Government Departments.

We continue to support and engage with disabled people and representative organisations in the disability sector on identified issues.

In our formal role under the UNCRPD, we have:

  • published explanatory guides
  • commissioned research
  • organised training sessions for disabled people / disabled peoples organisations on various aspects of the Convention; and
  • submitted evidence to a UNCRPD inquiry on Welfare Reform.

We have also:

  • called for the reform of Disability legislation
  • supported and publicised disability related legal cases
  • undertaken formal investigations in disability related matters
  • provided advice and training to employers on disability related issues
  • launched disability related initiatives for employers and public authorities
  • campaigned for better service provision for disabled customers


Examples of our activities:

Work to promote the Convention

IMNI Seminars
In our role as Independent for Northern Ireland (IMNI), we organised seminars to provide information on how people with disabilities and representative organisations can get involved in the CRPD reporting process, and also to further refine our own submissions to the UN Committee. They had the opportunity to:
 

  • learn about and suggest refinements to our proposed policy submissions to the UN Committee regarding key disability issues in Northern Ireland
  • suggest refinements to disability research currently being undertaken by QUB on our behalf to examine shortfalls in public policy and service delivery
  • hear how you can best influence and directly engage with the UN Committee to advance disability issues; and
  • as a group, discuss the key issues that disabled people and their representative organisations may wish to raise themselves with the UN Committee.
     
Queen's University of Belfast's research team provided to the audiences information on the key rights issues for disabled people in Northern Ireland, which will form our 'list of issues'.  You can view their presentation and paper for information.

IMNI workshop

In December 2013 IMNI hosted a workshop for disabled people and representative organisations to provide best practice examples on how best to influence and directly engage with the UN Committee to advance disability issues.

The event was facilitated by Marianne Schulze, Chairperson of the Austrian Independent Monitoring Committee and author of an international handbook on the human rights of persons with disabilities, entitled Understanding the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (pdf, 2010)
 

Platform event: Making the Disability Convention rights a reality in Northern Ireland

In December 2010, a platform event provided a unique opportunity to learn more about the Convention and the impact it will have on existing and future policy, legislation, jurisprudence and life in Northern Ireland.  It provided the first opportunity for people with disabilities to have a chance to have their say on what the priorities for change should be in Northern Ireland. Read our press release (pdf) about the event.

 

UNCRPD research: Shortfalls in public policy and programme delivery in Northern Ireland (2014)

Shortfalls in public policy and programme delivery in Northern Ireland relative to the Articles of the UNCRPD


Queens University of Belfast research team were commissioned by the Equality Commission on behalf of IMNI to consider the 3 key cross-cutting areas identified in the 2010 research.  This research found that priority gaps identified in 2010 remained - specifically with respect to: Awareness raising (Article 8); Participation in political and public life (Article 29); Access to information (Articles 9 and 21) and Statistics and data collection (Article 31).
 

 In addition, the 2014 research found substantive shortfalls with respect to:
 

  • Equality and non-discrimination (Article 5)
  • Equal recognition before the law (Article 12)
  • Living independently and being included in the community (Article 19)
  • Education (Article 24)
  • Health (Article 25)
  • Adequate standard of living and social protection (Article 28)


The research also identified key policy and programme areas with significant shortfalls relative to the requirements of the UNCRPD.  These included:
 

  • Transforming your care
  • Northern Ireland Mental Capacity Bill
  • Welfare reform programme
  • Special Educational Needs and inclusion review

 

Download the research:
 

 

UNCRPD research: How does NI measure up? (2010)

Disability programmes and policies: How does Northern Ireland measure up?

In 2010, the first piece of formal research under UNCRPD was undertaken to demonstrate the impact shortfalls in public policy and programmes in Northern Ireland have on everyday lives and the challenges and achievements people with disabilities have experienced.


Download the research:
 


The research presented robust evidence on three key cross-cutting* areas of substantive shortfalls in public policy and programme delivery in Northern Ireland needing immediate action to meet UNCRPD requirements, relative to Articles 5-31 of the UNCPRD.
 

  • Awareness raising (Article 8)
  • Participation in political and public life (Article 29)
  • Statistics and data collection (Article 31) and access to information (Articles 9 and 21)


* Cross-cutting Articles are those Articles and obligations which have a fundamental influence on the delivery of all Articles.  Good delivery on these Articles will have a positive effect, whereas poor implementation will have a negative influence.

Other important areas identified were independent living, education, welfare reform, health and social care and work and employment.

 


Listen to the Equality Commission's Chief Executive, Dr Evelyn Collins, CBE talk about the significance of:
 
  • the three key areas identified by the 2010 research
  • the Commission's role and the importance of UNCRPD
  • how this research will be used to help inform Government and Public Policy makers when they are considering issues which may affect the lives of disabled people.

Read our press release on why policy changes are necessary.

 

 

Disability related research (2013 & 2010)

In 2013, we commissioned Adapt NI to research and measure access to services as experienced by disabled people across Northern Ireland. It identified the need for improvements in how service premises are used, how information is conveyed and the knowledge of people providing the service:
 


Previous to this we presented research which found that those with a declared disability highlighted considerable differences in the highest educational attainment and in participation in Further to Higher Education compared with those without a declared disability.
 


To find out more about our work in this area visit our Addressing inequality, Education page

 

Programme for Government - NI Executive: our recommendations

The Equality Commission recommends that the Programme for Government includes action to address key gaps so as to ensure compliance relating to the obligations set out in the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities as well as other international conventions. 

 

Disability law reform

In April 2010, Great Britain introduced the Equality Act 2010 which strengthened, simplified and harmonised disability equality law in GB. We are calling on the NI Executive to change the law here as significant gaps exist in disability equality legislation in Northern Ireland.

Download our disability law reform recommendations:

 


Real stories: why reform of disability discrimination is needed
We have also produced case studies to demonstrate why reform of disability equality legislation is needed. They illustrate how disabled people, their families and their carers are being affected by gaps in the current disability equality legislation in Northern Ireland. Read our real stories of why reform of disability discrimination is needed>
 

Real stories: experiences, challenges and achievements of people with disabilities

Working together to close the gaps

People togetherThe word of individuals is important when considering how policies and programmes deliver to and for people with disabilities.  It helps to demonstrate the impact shortfalls in public policy and programme delivery have on the lives of individuals and is essential to our work.

We published a report entitled 'Working Together to Close the Gaps' (pdf), containing short stories about the everyday lives of people with disabilities, sharing their experiences, challenges and achievements.
 
  • "Simple solutions make a big difference" - Lyndsey Ewing's story
Lyndsey is deaf and has a slight learning disability.  She talks about her challenges and her achievements in trying to carry out everyday tasks that others take for granted, such as getting a mobile phone fixed, booking a medical appointment and learning to drive.  Lyndsey offers some positive advice to others who face similar experiences.
 
  • "My disability does not define me" - Elizabeth Zammitt's story
Elizabeth uses a motorised wheelchair; she talks openly about her experience of life in Northern Ireland as a person with a disability.
 
  • "My focus is on what I can do" - Collie McElroy's story
Collie broke his back in an accident at home. He talks about his role in public life, ensuring that disability issues are considered by Government and decision makers, as well as the challenges he has faced.
 
  • "It's important to be able to work and socialize" - Conor Maguire's story
Conor has Down's Syndrome and took part in the Special Olympics in 2003, bringing home a handful of medals.  He is past school age and feels that there is no real system or process in place for him.
 

Discrimination: attitudes and experience in Northern Ireland - Do you mean me?

Our last Equality Awareness Survey (pdf), published in June 2012 and entitled 'Do you mean me? Discrimination: attitudes and experience in Northern Ireland updated our knowledge of current public awareness of equality related issues and their social attitudes and perceptions. 

People were asked their views and perceptions of people with physical and learning disabilities and mental ill health.  Public attitudes found that in terms of the three types of disability covered in the research, mental ill-health evoked the greatest number of negative responses.  26% said they would mind (a little or a lot) having a person with mental ill-health as a work colleague, while 24% and 37% respectively would mind having this person as a neighbour or as an in-law.
 

Supported legal cases - decisions and settlements

Disability is consistently the most common cause of complaints of discrimination to the Commission’s legal advice team.

While the UNCRPD set principles and standards at an international level, it gives disabled people rights, but not remedies. Many of the cases of disability discrimination that are brought to us raise issues that are covered by UNCRPD. However UNCRPD is still relatively new and we can only use its provisions to reinforce and support an argument.  We can quote infringements of the rights listed in UNCRPD for the judge to consider when examining a discrimination case and to add weight to our argument.
 

 

Work with employers, service providers and public authorities

Every Customer Counts logoEvery Customer Counts – promoting accessible services
The Commission launched the 'Every Customer Counts' initiative to help improve disabled people’s access to services across Northern Ireland. All businesses and public authorities have a legal duty to take reasonable steps to ensure that disabled people can access their services. This initiative allows service providers to work through a 4 step process designed to help them meet this requirement and provides helpful resources in the form of a self audit tool, an action plan template, good practice guides, and template customer service statement and policy template.



Charter logoMental Health Charter
The Equality Commission’s Mental Health Charter provides a framework for working towards mentally healthy workplaces. Those who sign up to the Charter will undertake to promote good mental health which will be beneficial to their business, employees and the whole community in Northern Ireland. The Commission can provide those who sign up with free information and training resources to help them meet their Charter commitments.

 

Employer Training Programme
ETP logoThe Equality Commission's Advisory Services Team runs training sessions for employers, service providers and public authorities. These include training specifically relating to:
 



Public Authorities
Public authorities must submit a disability action plan to the Equality Commission (unless an exemption has been granted) showing how they propose to fulfil the disability duties in relation to their functions. Public authorities must also submit an annual progress report to the Commission on the implementation of their plans. This report should form part of the authority’s annual report to the Commission on the implementation of its equality scheme.
 

 

Formal investigation: how accessible health information is for people with a learning disability

Formal investigations

In 2008, we conducted a formal investigation into how accessible health information was for people with a learning disability.  Five years later, we revisited the subject to see what progress had been made.

Review of the Formal Investigation into the Accessibility of Health Information for people with a Learning Disability in NI (2015):
 

The original 2008 formal investigation reports:

If you would like to read more on Section 75 investigations, please visit our Investigations page
 

UN International Day of People with disabilities

To mark this day we publicised a number of disability cases that were settled with the support of the Equality Commission.

We also held a conference on 3 December 2014 for the public sector on their disability duties and the use of disability action plans. Read the press release>

 
 

We will continue to work closely with disabled people and their representatives in delivering our mandate and developing our submissions to the UN Committee. The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission also has information about the Convention on its website


< What is UNCRPD?
< Addressing inequality
Get involved >
(The Optional Protocol)
 
Recent timeline - Nov 2016 to present

November 2016
 
Early List of Issues submission sent to CRPD Committee’s rapporteur for the UK
 
10 Feb 2017
 
Submission on List of Issues sent from UKIM to secretariat for the CRPD Committee:
 

 
  • United Kingdom main submission – from all members of the UK Independent Mechanism
  • Northern Ireland supplementary submission – from the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission & Equality Commission for Northern Ireland
  • England supplementary submission – from the Equality and Human Rights Commission
  • Wales supplementary submission – from the Equality and Human Rights Commission
  • Scotland supplementary submission – from the Equality and Human Rights Commission & Scottish Human Rights Commission
13 March 2017
 
Representatives from the Equality Commission NI and the NI Human Rights Commission (as part of UKIM), presented key priorities for the 'List of Issues' for examination of the UK State Party report to a pre-sessional working group of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities meeting in Geneva, Switzerland.

The priorities with regard to NI were developed following extensive engagement by IMNI with Disabled People’s Organisations (DPOs), Non-Governmental Organisations, academics and public authorities.

The representatives of IMNI also liaised with the DPO delegation from NI immediately before and during the meeting of the pre-sessional working group to ensure that issues raised by the respective groups were presented in a complementary way during the limited time available.
 
5 April 2017      IMNI participated in feeding back jointly with representatives of Disability Action and Disabled People’s Voices on the proceedings at the pre-sessional working group and discussed the next steps in a roundtable meeting with representatives of DPOs at the Disability Action offices.
 
April 2017 Adoption by CRPD Committee of List of Issues for UK
 
Spring/Summer 2017
 

State and National Human Rights Institutions/DPO's/NGO's response to the 'List of Issues'

23 & 24 August 2017
 

18th session of the CRPD Committee to examine UK State Party report on implementation of the CRPD

31 August 2017
 
Concluding observations on the UK State Party Report published by the CRPD Committee
2017/2018 Follow up
 

 

 
 
 

 

 

 
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