- September 5, 2023

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Welcome to the weekly Newsletter to the 29th Session of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Committee meeting

Week 3, 28th August to 1st September

The 29th Session of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Committee meeting will take place from Monday, August 14th to Friday, September 08th at the UN headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. You can follow all the public sessions on the UN WebTV platform here.

The third week of the 29th session of the CRPD Committee

Last week was the third week of the 29th session of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The CRPD Committee dedicated the public meetings of the week to three main activities:

  • Follow up session to the 2017 Report of the CRPD Committee on the Inquiry concerning the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, carried out under Article 6 of the Optional Protocol to the Convention
  • The review of Germany
  • The review of Paraguay

Follow-up session to the Inquiry concerning the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

Meeting room during UK session
In a session with one absent, the State’s delegation

In the lead-up to the 29th session, the Program of the Work, developed by the CRPD Committee, foresaw to hold a public session on Monday, 28th August, with a delegation from the State of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Nevertheless, days before the public session was scheduled, the State requested the CRPD Committee to postpone until March 2024 the holding of such a public session.

In contrast, national organizations of persons with disabilities, and the national human rights institutions, from the 4 nations composing the United Kingdom, did brief the CRPD Committee on August 28th in the morning, requesting the CRPD Committee to webcast the briefing. National OPDs claimed that those human rights violations to Articles 19 (Living independently and being included in the Committee), Article 27 (right to employment), and Article 28 (Adequate standard of living and social protection), addressed by the CRPD Committee’s recommendations throughout this inquiry continue and that the overall situation worsened. The representatives of organizations of persons with disabilities indicated that “Brexit” and the COVID-19 pandemic worsened the situation for persons with disabilities regarding personal assistance, support services, and care. Finally, in connection to Articles 27 and 28 of the CRPD, an OPD representative highlighted: “The Work Capability Assessment regime, labeled a 'human catastrophe for disabled people by the previous chair of the CRPD Committee, has remained in place."
 UK OPDs representative at CRPDs 29th Session

Meetings concluded with the understanding that the State would participate and engage in a public session with the CRPD Committee at the 30th session, in March 2024. This is a session to which we all look forward, with the hope that the rights of persons with disabilities addressed by this inquiry procedure are ensured and human rights violations verified by the CRPD Committee redressed by the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

You can find all the documents here.

Click for the video of the public meeting with United Kingdom's national OPDsReviews of Germany and Paraguay

Germany team at CRPD 29th Session
From March 2015 to August 2023: not much new for Germany’s second review
On Tuesday (afternoon) and Wednesday (morning), the Committee held its constructive dialogue with the Federal Republic of Germany, reviewed for the first time in March 2015. Many issues were raised by the CRPD Committee, including the lack of “participation standards” (institutionalized mechanisms for consultation and involvement of OPDs in line with Article 4(3) of the CRPD), the insufficiency of recent legal reforms in the area of legal capacity, the challenges posed by the federal structure of the State leading to lack of proactivity and/or inequalities in many areas for persons with disabilities. Furthermore, issues in the areas of education (through special schools), and the reliance on sheltered workshops for persons with disabilities, without any change since 2015, were discussed, with the final point being raised on an inaccurate and misleading official German translation of the Convention that confuses “inclusion” with the outdated concept of “integration.”
In the area of non-discrimination, the German delegation assured the CRPD Committee that Germany will seek to introduce new legal provisions to extend to the private sector the obligation of providing reasonable accommodation to persons with disabilities. Focusing on Article 12 of the CRPD, the State expressed its opposition to its full scope and the CRPD Committee’s authoritative interpretation of the CRPD, upholding contrary positions of an alleged majority of German jurists and academia. In connection with Article 27 CRPD, and eight years after the recommendation to phase out sheltered workshops through “immediately enforceable exit strategies and timelines and incentives for public and private employment in the mainstream labor market,” the State suggested it would start discussions in September 2023 to take concrete measures, including legislative action, on the issue.  
While some elements of the State responses have been disappointing, looking forward, one of the CRPD Committee rapporteurs for the country highlighted the valuable resource the German government could and should utilize more, which is the expertise of German organizations of persons with disabilities who request more and better space for their consultation and involvement in public decision making.
Paraguay team at the CRPD 29th Session
Paraguay: A National Action Plan for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities adopted, not many concrete actions undertaken

On Wednesday (afternoon) and Thursday (morning), the CRPD Committee held its constructive dialogue with the Republic of Paraguay. The constructive dialogue took place in the context of a very recent change of national government (only 2 weeks ago). Still, several members of the State delegation have been public officials involved in national policies pertaining to persons with disabilities, in particular at the National Secretary for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (SENADIS).

The CRPD Committee has raised many issues that speak about the insufficient proactivity of the Republic of Paraguay for CRPD implementation. In particular, the CRPD Committee highlighted the need to review the mechanisms for consultation with organizations of persons with disabilities, given the limitations in terms of capacity and representation of the National Commission for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, directed by the National Secretary for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, where some civil society organizations hold seats next to public officials. Facing a potential State reform, the CRPD Committee consulted whether the National Secretary for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities will cease to exist in the near future and whether it will actually focus its actions on the promotion and implementation of the rights of persons with disabilities, instead of being in practice a public health and rehabilitation service provider for persons with disabilities, materializing a segregation and charitable approach. In the area of support and care, the CRPD Committee strongly alerted against a draft bill that would re-legitimize and recognize a role in the institutionalization of children with disabilities, contradicting Article 23 of the CRPD.

The State representative reassured the CRPD Committee about the continuation of the National Secretary for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, rejecting the suggestion that it would be merged and thus diluted relatively soon in a Ministry with a larger mandate. Other replies by the State delegation focused more on what it is -or has been- written in paper, rather than on what the impact is on the reality of the rights of persons with disabilities

Click for the videos of the public meetings related to Germany and Paraguay

Participation of organizations of persons with disabilities 
Throughout the week, the International Disability Alliance (IDA), together with the European Disability Forum (EDF), for Germany, and the Latin American Network of Organizations of Persons with Disabilities and their Families (RIADIS), for Paraguay, provided support to ensure the participation of representatives from national organizations of persons with disabilities.

For the case of Germany, the Alliance of German Non-Governmental Organizations on the CRPD and the German Down Syndrome Info Center submitted alternative reports, available on the CRPD Committee Website. IDA and the EDF collaborated closely with the OPD representatives from the Alliance, who attended the session in Geneva in advance of the private briefing with the CRPD Committee.

For the case of Paraguay, IDA and its member RIADIS, supported financially, logistically, and technically a group of 17 associations, including OPDs and others, in developing their alternative report, and in bringing a delegation of OPDs representatives to brief the CRPD Committee in Geneva and attend the session. 

Paraguay team during session of CRPD 29

"The Paraguayan delegation went through an arduous process of more than 2 months of preparation for the drafting of the shadow report, in which 17 Civil Society Organizations of and for Persons with Disabilities from different parts of the country participated in a historic way. It was very enriching to be able to join forces, ideas, and points in common that were written down in the report presented.
Likewise, the choice of the representatives who traveled to Geneva was made with great criteria and this helped everyone to feel represented by those who had the opportunity to travel.
The experience was unique, but above all the commitment with which we presented all the problems, filled us with satisfaction. We felt listened to and supported by the various members of the CRPD Committee, and during the review of the State, it was clear that the CRPD Committee took our comments into account. We returned excited and stronger to continue raising our voices.
Once we have the recommendations to the State, we will disseminate widely among Paraguayan society in every corner of the country, and become the defender of the rights of every Paraguayan with disabilities. We are grateful to IDA and RIADIS for making our trip to Geneva possible. An opportunity that helps to strengthen the leadership of people with disabilities."
Liz Diaz, OPD delegation representative 

What’s next this last week of the CRPD Committee review? 


During this forth week, the CRPD Committee will hold private briefings with organizations of persons with disabilities as well as the closing session. 

Follow us live on Twitter for the newest updates from the UN Geneva Headquarters @IDA_CRPD_Forum


For more information on the session, including reports by States and organizations of persons with disabilities, visit the CRPD Committee-specific website