Tom Shakespeare, University of East Anglia
Tuesday 17th February 2015
The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006) was the first human rights treaty of the twenty-first century, specifying for persons with disabilities all the protections afforded by the existing human rights architecture, and elaborating what is required to ensure equality for disabled people. The question of whether the CRPD creates new rights has been debated. It certainly extends and elaborates existing rights in innovatory ways to make them accessible for disabled people. Aspects such as “reasonable accommodation” and “supported decision making” push at the boundaries of a liberal individualist conception of human rights. At the current time, the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities are undertaking an investigation into whether the United Kingdom has violated the rights of its disabled citizens. The actions of the Coalition government (“welfare reform” “the bedroom tax”, cuts to local authority spending) have imperilled the opportunities of disabled people in UK to achieve equality and overcome discrimination. In this talk, I will explore the extent to which the CRPD goes beyond existing human rights frameworks, and try to assess its utility for achieving equality for disabled people, both in UK and globally.