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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.

What is UNCRPD?

UN Convention on the Rights of
Persons with Disabilities

UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

CRPD logoThe United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) is an international treaty which identifies the rights of disabled people as well as the obligations on Parliament and the NI Assembly to promote, protect and ensure those rights. It aims to ensure that disabled people enjoy the same human rights as everyone else and that they can participate fully in society by receiving the same opportunities as others.

By ratifying the UN Convention in 2009, the UK is committed to promoting and protecting the full enjoyment of human rights by disabled people and ensuring they have full equality under the law. The Convention covers a wide range of areas including:
  • health
  • education
  • employment
  • access to justice
  • personal security
  • independent living, and
  • access to information.


The full text of UNCRPD is available on the UN website; it is also available in an Easy Read format (pdf)
 - See the 50 articles that form the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

The Equality Commission's role
The Equality Commission NI and the NI Human Rights Commission are jointly designated as the Independent Mechanism for Northern Ireland (IMNI) to promote, protect and monitor implementation of UNCRPD, and report on this to the UN Committee. The Equality and Human Rights Commission and Scottish Human Rights Commission fulfill this role in Great Britain, and together we form the UK's Independent Mechanism (UKIM).

How will the Convention help people with disabilities in NI?

  • Government and public bodies are expected to make decisions and deliver services which take into account the rights contained in the Convention.
  • The Convention encourages the wider community to recognise the importance of disabled people’s human rights.
  • The Convention could be used to challenge or change the law.
  • Under certain circumstances, people in Northern Ireland can make complaints to the UN Committee if they believe that their rights under the Convention are not being protected.
  • The Government has to report to the UN Committee on how it has put the rights contained in the Convention into practice. The Committee will help to ensure that disabled people’s rights are being enforced by reviewing reports and making recommendations to Government.

Summary of identified gaps in government public policies

Barriers faced by disabled people hinder their full and effective participation in society.  To assist disabled people to live a full and active life, we have identified gaps in government public policies and programmes and the key issues that need to be addressed. In summary, these include concerns regarding:

- Equality and non-discrimination (Article 5)

  • proposals to replace the Human Rights Act and the impact of Brexit
  • certain positive provisions, included in GB via the Equality Act 2010, do not apply in Northern Ireland

- Awareness-raising (Article 8)

  • continuing existence of prejudice and negative attitudes
  • lack of a holistic disability strategy

- Accessibility (Articles 9, 19)

  • inaccessible and inappropriate housing; lack of access to transport, information and the built environment
  • difficulties experienced by carers with impacts on maintaining physical and mental well-being

- Independent and adequate standard of living and social protection (Articles 19, 20, 26, 28)

  • disproportionate impact of social security reforms (cumulative impact of tax and welfare changes)
  • increased demand for social care and falling funding resulting a care crisis

- Education (Articles 7, 24)

  • reduction in nursery and pre-school provision for children in special schools in NI
  • higher rate of school exclusions for pupils with a disability and SEN
  • educational attainment gap and barriers to transition to further education

- Employment (Article 27)

  • barriers to employment and training e.g. failure to make reasonable adjustments; discrimination; transport; bullying and harassment)
  • the employment and pay gap experienced by people with disabilities

- Health (Articles 10, 25)

  • health inequalities, particularly for those with intellectual or psycho-social impairments
  • the underfunding of mental health services and high rates of mental ill-health
  • the inappropriate detention of those with autism and/or intellectual disabilities in psychiatric hospitals

- Freedom from exploitation, violence and abuse (Articles 6, 16, 17)

  • evidence of hate-crime and harassment; bullying of disabled pupils in schools; and violence against disabled people

- National implementation and monitoring (Articles 31, 33)

  • significant data gaps, and lack of disaggregated data
  • lack of specific funding to deliver UKIM remit

- Participation in political and public life (Article 29)

  • persons with disabilities continue to be significantly under-represented on the boards of public bodies in Northern Ireland and in political life

The Optional Protocol
The UN Convention has an additional section called the Optional Protocol which allows individuals who believe that their Convention rights have been breached to bring complaints to the UN Disability Committee (provided they have exhausted national and European means of redress). The Committee can also undertake enquiries into alleged grave or systematic violations of UNCRPD. Find out about this here

Further information
Download our publication that provides information on each article of the UNCRPD, and the articles that fall within the Optional Protocol:

< Addressing inequality
< Other International Mechanisms
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is the first human rights treaty of the 21st century.

The following information will explain the Convention and the Equality Commission's role further:

UNCRPD publications

UN Convention resources

Our publications about the UN Convention (in pdf format)

Short guides


If you would like to receive copies of these publications, please email us at

Online Convention resources

UNCRPD research:

Shortfalls in public policy and programme delivery in NI relative to the Articles of the UNCRPD:
Disability programmes and policies: How does Northern Ireland measure up?

Articles 1-50 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

The following Articles form the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities:

Your rights under UNCRPD


Article 1 – Purpose
Article 2 – Definitions
Article 3 – General principles
Article 4 – General obligations
Article 5 – Equality and non-discrimination
Article 6 – Women with disabilities
Article 7 – Children with disabilities
Article 8 – Awareness-raising
Article 9 – Accessibility
Article 10 – Right to life
Article 11 – Situations of risk and humanitarian emergencies
Article 12 – Equal recognition before the law
Article 13 – Access to justice
Article 14 – Liberty and security of person
Article 15 – Freedom of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment
Article 16 – Freedom from exploitation, violence and abuse
Article 17 – Protecting the integrity of the person
Article 18 – Liberty of movement and nationality
Article 19 – Living independently and being included in the community
Article 20 – Personal mobility
Article 21 – Freedom of expression and opinion, and access to information
Article 22 – Respect for privacy
Article 23 – Respect for home and the family
Article 24 – Education
Article 25 – Health
Article 26 – Habilitation and rehabilitation
Article 27 – Work and employment
Article 28 – Adequate standard of living and social protection
Article 29 – Participation in political and public life
Article 30 – Participation in cultural life, recreation, leisure and sport
Article 31 – Statistics and data collection
Article 32 – International cooperation
Article 33 – National implementation and monitoring
Article 34 – Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
Article 35 – Reports by States Parties
Article 36 – Consideration of reports
Article 37 – Cooperation between States Parties and the Committee
Article 38 – Relationship of the Committee with other bodies
Article 39 – Report of the Committee
Article 40 – Conference of States Parties
Article 41 – Depositary
Article 42 – Signature
Article 43 – Consent to be bound
Article 44 – Regional integration organizations
Article 45 – Entry into force
Article 46 – Reservations
Article 47 – Amendments
Article 48 – Denunciation
Article 49 – Accessible format
Article 50 – Authentic texts

We have produced a publication which provides information on each article, listed above, and the articles that fall within the Optional Protocol:



IMNI and UKIM documents

Documents relating to the Independent Mechanism for NI and the UK Independent Mechanism:

UKIM one year follow-on review (Oct 2018)
UKIM submission to inform the CRPD Committee's one year follow-on review 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:

NI 'Parallel' Jurisdictional Report - IMNI Working Paper (Aug 2017)

Disability Rights in the UK: UK Independent Mechanism - Updated submission to the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in advance of the public examination of the UK’s implementation of the UNCRPD (July 2017)

UKIM List of Issues: main report and supplementary nation reports (Feb 2017)

Monitoring the implemmentation of UNCRPD: UKIM List of Issues interim report (Dec 2014)

Shortfalls in public policy and programme delivery in NI relative to the Articles of the UNCRPD (May 2014)

NI 'Parallel' Jurisdictional Report - IMNI Working Paper (July 2014)

UKIM concerns following UK Government's response to CRPD Committee Inquiry (Dec 2016)

CRPD Joint Committee documents

Further information about these documents can be found in the UNCRPD Key Developments section


Minutes of meetings - Independent Mechanism for Northern Ireland (IMNI)

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
How have we advised Government on policy issues? 

Consultation responses

We are frequently asked to consider and comment on government policy and strategy documents on our areas of expertise.

Responding to government consultations on disability issues has given us a chance to highlight the rights and obligations contained within the UNCRPD.

Below are our most recent responses to consultations on disability issues (most recent first).

Consultations 2022


Consultations 2021


Consultations 2019


Consultations 2018

The Equality Commission's UNCRPD/Disability related consultation responses for 2018:

Consultations 2017


Consultations 2016


Consultations 2015


Consultations 2014


Consultations 2013

The Equality Commission's UNCRPD/Disability related consultation responses for 2013:


Consultations 2012


Consultations 2011


Consultations pre 2010


Consultation responses relevant to UNCRPD


< What is UNCRPD?
Addressing inequality
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