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Protection at international level of the rights and freedoms of persons with disabilities

Protection at international level of the rights and freedoms of persons with disabilities



Decision 2010/48/EC on the conclusion, by the European Community, of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities


The decision adopts on behalf the European Community (now the EU) the United Nations Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities, included in the annex to the decision.


This international Convention is intended to ensure the full enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by persons with disabilities.

To this end, the Convention is based on a series of principles:

  • respect for the dignity, autonomy and independence of persons;
  • non-discrimination;
  • participation and inclusion in society;
  • respect for difference and acceptance of persons;
  • equality of opportunity;
  • accessibility, in particular access to transportation, information and communications, public facilities and services, in urban and rural areas;
  • equality between men and women;
  • respect for the identity of children with disabilities and for their evolving capacities.

Countries which are party to the convention must take all necessary measures to ensure respect for these principles on an ongoing basis. They also undertake to support the economic, social and cultural rights of persons with disabilities.

In addition, persons with disabilities should be consulted in the development and implementation of legislation and policies relating to them.

Protection against discrimination

All discrimination on the basis of disability is prohibited and persons with disabilities are to receive equal and effective legal protection.

The convention contains specific rules in relation to 2 population groups:

  • women with disabilities, who are subject to multiple discrimination. Measures are to be taken to ensure their full development and their autonomy;
  • children with disabilities, who are entitled to protection of their best interests in decisions affecting them, also have the right to express their views freely and to be provided with appropriate assistance.

Countries which are parties to the convention undertake to combat stereotypes and to promote awareness of the capabilities of persons with disabilities.

Rights recognised by the convention

The convention lays down a series of rights and freedoms to which persons with disabilities are entitled. These include:

  • the right to life;
  • protection in situations of risk and humanitarian emergencies;
  • recognition as persons before the law and of legal capacity, especially with a view to owning property and freedom to manage their own finances, while being protected against abuse;
  • access to justice, thanks to procedural accommodations;
  • liberty and security;
  • freedom from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment;
  • freedom from exploitation, violence and abuse;
  • protection of physical and mental integrity;
  • liberty of movement, the right to choose place of residence and nationality;
  • living independently and being included in the community;
  • personal mobility, especially through mobility devices and technologies;
  • freedom of expression and access to information;
  • respect for privacy;
  • respect for home and the family;
  • the right to education;
  • access to health services;
  • habilitation and rehabilitation, by attaining full physical, mental, social and vocational ability;
  • the right to work, without discrimination and under just and favourable conditions;
  • the right to an adequate standard of living and social protection;
  • participation in political and public life, including by voting and being elected;
  • participation in cultural life, recreation, leisure and sport.

Implementation of the convention

Any international cooperation action undertaken must be inclusive of persons with disabilities, notably in partnership with relevant international and regional organisations.

Countries must set up one or more national focal points responsible for the implementation of the Convention and inform the public about the convention. They must establish an independent mechanism to monitor the implementation of the convention. Civil society must be fully involved in monitoring action.

Lastly, each country must submit a comprehensive report on measures taken to fulfil its obligations, within 2 years of its accession to the convention.


The decision has applied since 26 November 2009. The Convention entered into force on 3 May 2008 and has applied in the EU since 22 January 2011.


For more information, see:


Council Decision 2010/48/EC of 26 November 2009 concerning the conclusion, by the European Community, of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (OJ L 23, 27.1.2010, pp. 35-61)

last update 18.07.2018