The United Nations (UN) Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities published its General Comment on Article 19 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), 29th August 2017.
The EU and all EU Member States, except for Ireland, have ratified the UN CRPD.
The General Comment contains definitions of key terms; an explanation of the text of Article 19; explains the core elements of the right; the Obligations of State Parties to respect, protect and fulfil Article 19; the relationship to other Articles in the UNCRPD and specific guidance for implementation at the National level.
Some of the barriers to the realisation of the right include;
- Denial of legal capacity, either through formal laws and practices or de facto by substitute decision-making about living arrangements
- Inadequacy of legal frameworks and budget allocations aimed at providing personal assistance and individualized support
- Physical and regulatory institutionalisation, including of children and forced treatment in all its forms;
- Lack of available, acceptable, affordable, accessible and adaptable services and facilities, such as transport, health care, schools, public spaces, housing, theatres, cinemas, goods and services and public buildings
- Insufficient mainstreaming of disability in general budget allocations;
- Inappropriate decentralisation, resulting in disparities between local authorities and unequal chances of living independently within the community in a State party
- Lack of deinstitutionalisation strategies and plans and continued investments into institutional care settings
Core elements of Article 19 include:
- To develop a concrete action plan for independent living of persons with disabilities within the community
- To develop a concrete action plan and to take steps towards developing and implementing basic, personalized, non-shared and rights-based disability-specific support services and other forms of services
- To collect consistent quantitative and qualitative data on people with disabilities, including those still living in institutions; and
- To use any available funding, including regional funding and funding for development cooperation, to develop inclusive and accessible independent living services
Some guidance on implementation at the National level:
(g) Adopt clear and targeted strategies for de-institutionalization with specific timeframes and adequate budgets in order to eliminate all forms of isolation, segregation or institutionalization of persons with disabilities. Special attention should be paid to persons with psychosocial and/or intellectual disabilities and children with disabilities currently in institutions;
(i) Ensuring participation of persons with disabilities, personally and through their representative organizations, is pivotal in transforming support services and communities, and in the design and implementation of de-institutionalization strategies;
(k) Allocate resources into the development of appropriate and sufficient person-directed/”user”-led and self-managed support services for all persons with disabilities, such as personal assistance, guides, readers, professional sign language or interpreters;
(l) Design tendering processes concerning support services for persons with disabilities’ living independently in the community that take into account the normative content of Article 19
(m) Establish mechanisms to monitor existing institutions and residential services, de-institutionalization strategies and the implementation of living independently within the community, bearing in mind the role of the independent monitoring frameworks; and
(n) Monitoring and implementation envisaged under article 19 should be carried out in full consultation and participation of persons with disabilities through their representative organizations.
UN expert, Ms Catalina Devandas (Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities) – find reports on disability inclusive policies and rights based support.