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The Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities as a Global Tipping Point for the Participation of Persons With Disabilities  

Paul Harpur and Michael Ashley Stein

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) is a historical tipping point, globally precipitating and enabling persons with disabilities to exercise their rights. Prior to the CRPD, laws and practices restricted the capacity of persons with disabilities to be present, let alone empowered, within society. By contrast, leveraging the call of “nothing about us without us,” the disability rights movement precipitated a participatory dynamic throughout the CRPD’s drafting sessions. Disabled peoples’ organizations (DPOs), as nongovernmental organizations, selected their own spokespeople, attended all public meetings, made statements, received copies of official documents, and distributed their own position papers. This involvement has had profound and continuing lasting effects, with participation enshrined in the CRPD’s text and precipitating a new global norm. The CRPD requires full and effective participation and inclusion in society and equality of opportunity. It further requires states to closely consult with and involve persons with disabilities, through DPOs, in decisions, policies, and laws affecting them and to promote DPO development. DPOs are also authorized to implement and monitor the CRPD, thereby facilitating the work of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which to date has been dominated by independent experts with disabilities. Collectively, these requirements are intended to ensure that persons with disabilities can fully participate in the CRPD’s visionary agenda.