People with disabilities and their representative organizations must participate in public decision-making processes about their own human rights, the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities said today as it issued new legal guidance on the Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The new guidance, issued as general comment No. 7, upholds the right of all persons with disabilities to participate and be involved in all issues relating to them. It also clarifies States parties’ obligations to ensure the participation of persons with disabilities, through their representative organizations, in the implementation and monitoring of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, in line with articles 4 (3) and 33 (3) of this international treaty.

The full document is available to read here in its standard form and here in an “Easy Read” format. It is the Committee’s practice to also issue many of its documents in this format, which aims to make them accessible to persons with disabilities.

“States parties to the Convention clearly need guidance on why and how to collaborate with organizations of persons with disabilities respectfully and as equals," said Stig Langvad, Chair of the Working Group on the general comment. “As a person with a disability since 1973 who is active in organizations and public life, I know the power of persons with disabilities ourselves,” he added.

“Nothing about us without us” has long been a motto of the rights movement of persons with disabilities. In its general comment, the Committee recalls that when persons with disabilities are consulted, this leads to laws, policies and programmes that contribute to more inclusive societies and environments.

The general comment aims to be a useful tool providing concrete recommendations on how to undertake consultations with persons with disabilities, through their representative organizations. That should include developing accessible information about decision-making processes, establishing inclusive methodologies, and ensuring organizations of persons with disabilities have access to national and international funding for their functioning and advocacy, the Committee said. 
The general comment also defines organizations of persons with disabilities and highlights that respecting the rights of persons with disabilities to freedom of association, peaceful assembly and expression are essential for their participation and consultations with them.

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