https://vimeo.com/404934820
1. List of concepts 2. Explaining the UN CRPD 2.1. Introducing the Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD or the Convention) 2.2. Why is the UN CRPD important for the Deaf community? 2.3. Parties to the UN CRPD 2.4. Effect of the ratification of the UN CRPD 2.5. Implementation of the UN CRPD on the national level 3. Monitoring and reporting 3.1. Reporting cycle 3.2. Initial and State Parties Reports explained 3.3. List of issues explained 3.4. Constructive Dialogue during the plenary session (in Geneva) explained 3.5. Concluding Observations explained 3.6. Procedures to follow up on the implementation of UN CRPD Committee’s Concluding Observations 4. Being involved during your country review process as National Associations of the Deaf (NAD) 4.1. Why should NADs be involved before, during and after the review process? 4.2. When should NADs start getting involved? 4.3. How can NADs be involved? 4.3.1. Input to State Party Report: when & how? 4.3.2. Influencing the reports of national monitoring frameworks 4.3.3. Alternative Reports 4.3.4. Input to the List of Issues (LoI) 4.3.5. Participating at the plenary session of the UN CRPD Committee – Constructive Dialogue 4.3.6. Input to the Concluding Observations: when & how? 4.4. What is the role of the National Disability Council (NDC)? 4.5. How can EUD and EDF provide you with assistance during the review process? 4.6. How to follow up on Concluding Observations on the national level?

1. List of concepts

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Alternative Report – also called a Parallel or Shadow Report. It is carried out by an organisation within the State Party to highlight the latter’s shortcomings and to focus on a particular situation. It is a way of informing the UN CRPD Committee on the progress of implementation at the national level through an analysis of national legislation, providing complementary information and the concerns of the persons with disabilities. Organisations preparing an alternative report often represent the interests of people with disabilities.

Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) – Groupings of people which operates in the community, in a way that is distinct from both government and business.

Concluding Observations – The observations and recommendations issued by a UN CRPD Committee after consideration of a State party's report. These are the considerations of the UN CRPD Committee on how a State Party has implemented the Convention and recommendations for advancements to be made after the Constructive Dialogue.

Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD Committee or the Committee) - The UN CRPD establishes, in Article 34, a Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The role of the Committee is to monitor the implementation of the UN CRPD at the international level, by receiving and examining reports from States Parties and reports from civil society organisations. To give itself the resources necessary to fulfil its role, the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has a membership of 18 experts. The members of the Committee serve in their capacity and are of high moral standing and recognised competence and experience in the field addressed by the Convention. The members of the Committee are elected by secret ballot from a list of persons nominated by the States Parties from among their nationals at meetings of the Committee, which convenes in Geneva twice a year: in March/April and September. A session consists of a meeting during which the UN CRPD Committee holds its Constructive Dialogue with a State Party to the UN CRPD.

Constructive Dialogue – Dialogue between the representatives of the State Party and the UN CRPD Committee in which the latter questions the State Party on how they are implementing the Convention. Constructive Dialogue happens twice a year: in March/April and September in Geneva.


Coordination mechanism – within government, a coordination mechanism facilitates related action in different sectors and at different levels. Usually it consists of a permanent structure, ensures coordination at the local, regional and national/federal levels; and ensures the participation of persons with disabilities, organisations of disabled persons and NGOs by establishing a permanent forum for discussions with civil society. The Coordination mechanism has the role of supporting the implementation of the Convention in all government sectors and levels and coordinating the various focal points if there is more than one focal point.

Disabled Persons’ Organisations (DPOs) – Organisations that represent the interests and defend the human rights of people with disabilities.

Focal point(s) – Focal point(s) are bodies or mechanisms designated within governments for matters relating to the implementation of the Convention. Focal point(s) plays a role in raising awareness of the Convention among public authorities and all personnel concerned. It must also place the rights of people with disabilities on political agendas and action plans.

General Comments – Publication format for the interpretation of the provisions of human rights treaties such as UN CRPD.


List of Issues – List of questions that States Parties receive from the UN CRPD Committee requesting clarification of certain points in the State Party's report.

National Human Rights Institution (NHRI) – An independent institution which has the responsibility to protect, monitor and promote human rights at the national level.

Optional Protocol to the UN CRPD – Side-legal instrument that gives the possibility for individuals or groups of individuals to complain to the UN CRPD Committee about situations that violate their rights under the UN CRPD.

United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) – International human rights treaty which’s objective is to protect the rights and dignity of people with disabilities.

UN CRPD Committee or the Committee – Body of independent experts nominated by the countries that have ratified the UN CRPD.

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) – department of the Secretariat of the United Nations that works to promote and protect the human rights that are guaranteed under international law and stipulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948.

Ratification – Start of the obligation to respect, protect and fulfil the content of the Articles of the Convention. The countries who have ratified it must adapt their entire legislation to conform to the Convention.

State Parties to the UN CRPD or State Parties – Countries that have signed and ratified the UN CRPD.

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2. Explaining the UN CRPD

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2.1. Introducing the Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD or the Convention)

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) is the first legally binding international instrument to sets out the rights of persons with disabilities and is the single most crucial Convention for the deaf and persons with disabilities worldwide. It was adopted in 2006 and entered into force on 3rd May 2008.

The Convention clearly and unreservedly states that persons with disabilities are entitled to full access to and equal enjoyment of all human rights. The removal of barriers is explicitly mentioned as a condition for access and the effective exercise of all rights.

The Convention contains:

(i) general principles that guide the implementation of all Articles;

(ii) lists the rights that must be respected, protected and fulfilled by the State Parties;

(iii) describes specific and general obligations of State Parties while implementing the UN CRPD. 

General Principles

Article 3 UN CRPD sets out general principles which should guide the implementation of all Articles of the UN CRPD:

  • respect for inherent dignity, individual autonomy including the freedom to make one’s own choices, and the independence of persons;
  • non-discrimination;
  • full and effective participation and inclusion in society;
  • respect for difference and acceptance of persons with disabilities as part of human diversity and humanity;
  • equality of opportunity;
  • accessibility;
  • equality between men and women;
  • respect for the evolving capacities of children with disabilities and respect for the right of children with disabilities to preserve their identities.

Rights protected by the Convention

Various Articles in the UN CRPD guarantee rights for people with disabilities:

  • equality and non-discrimination (Article 5);
  • right to life (Article 10);
  • protection in situations of risk and humanitarian emergencies (Article 11);
  • equal recognition before the law (Article 12);
  • access to justice (Article 13);
  • right to liberty and security (Article 14);
  • freedom from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (Article 15);
  • freedom from exploitation, violence and abuse (Article 16);
  • respect for physical and mental integrity (Article 17);
  • freedom of movement and nationality (Article 18);
  • right to live independently and be included in the community (Article 19);
  • right to personal mobility (Article 20);
  • freedom of expression and opinion and access to information (Article 21);
  • respect for privacy (Article 22);
  • respect for home and the family (Article 23);
  • right to education (Article 24);
  • right to health (Article 25);
  • right to habilitation and rehabilitation (Article 26);
  • right to work and employment (Article 27);
  • right to an adequate standard of living and social protection (Article 28);
  • right to participate in political and public life (Article 29); and
  • right to participate in cultural life, recreation, leisure and sport (Article 30).

Specific obligations

The UN CRPD also includes specific obligations to ensure that the rights of women (Article 6) and children (Article 7) with disabilities are protected. It also requires States to adopt awareness-raising (Article 8) and accessibility (Article 9) measures and to collect statistical and research data (Article 31). The importance of international cooperation (Article 32) and national implementation and monitoring (Article 33) are also highlighted.

General obligations

Article 4 of the UN CRPD requires State Parties to promote the full realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all persons with disabilities, without discrimination of any kind by:

  • adopting legislative, administrative and other measures to implement the rights contained in the UN CRPD;
  • adopting legislative, administrative and other measures to abolish discrimination against persons with disabilities;
  • protecting and promoting the rights of persons with disabilities in all policies and programs;
  • not engaging in any act or practice that is inconsistent with the UN CRPD and ensuring that the public sector acts in conformity with the UN CRPD;
  • taking measures to eliminate discrimination on the basis of disability;
  • undertaking or promoting research and development of new technologies suitable for persons with disabilities;
  • providing accessible information about assistance, support services and facilities to persons with disabilities;
  • promoting the training of professionals and staff who work with persons with disabilities; and
  • involving persons with disabilities in developing and implementing legislation and policies and in all decision-making processes related to persons with disabilities.
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2.2. Why is the UN CRPD important for the Deaf community?

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The UN CRPD is the first international treaty to explicitly mention and safeguard sign language and the Deaf Community with its unique culture. There are five Articles referring to sign language, but every Article carries importance for all persons with disabilities, including Deaf people.

Article 2 UN CRPD – Definitions:

“Language” includes spoken and signed languages (…)”. The Article recognises that sign languages are equal and equivalent to spoken languages.


Article 9 UN CRPD – Accessibility:

“ (e) To provide forms of live assistance and intermediaries, including guides, readers and professional sign language interpreters (…)“. The Article specifically mentions that accessibility for the deaf is achieved through sign language.

 

Article 21 UN CRPD – Freedom of expression:

“ (b) Accepting and facilitating the use of sign languages (…)“. The Article emphasises that the governments must take measures to ensure that deaf persons can exercise the right to freedom of expression and opinion, including the freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas on an equal basis with others and through all forms of communication of their choice, such as sign language.

 

Article 24 UN CRPD – Education:

“3. b) Facilitating the learning of sign language and the promotion of the linguistic identity of the deaf community;


3. c) Ensuring that the education of persons, and in particular children, who are blind, deaf or deafblind, is delivered in the most appropriate languages

 

4. In order to help ensure the realization of this right, States Parties shall take appropriate measures to employ teachers, including teachers with disabilities, who are qualified in sign language. “ The Article plays significant importance ensuring that deaf children in education have access to sign language and that the linguistic identity of the deaf community is promoted.

 

Article 30 UN CRPD – Participation in cultural life, recreation, leisure and sport:

“ 4. Persons with disabilities shall be entitled, on an equal basis with others, to recognition and support of their specific cultural and linguistic identity, including sign languages and deaf culture. “  The Article recognises and promotes specific cultural and linguistic identity of deaf people, sign languages and deaf culture.

 

 

For the deaf community UN CRPD is a powerful legally binding tool, that must be used by advocacy groups to monitor, highlight, and promote human rights for deaf persons.  The UN CRPD helps increase public awareness of barriers faced by deaf people in all areas of life, listed in the Articles of the Convention and promote legal and policy changes at the national level as well as channel resources into programs that support the rights of the deaf. Articles of the UN CRPD are of a legally binding nature, meaning that State Parties to the UN CRPD must respect, protect and fulfil the rights safeguarded by the Articles.

The UN CRPD specifically states that governments are to recognise sign language(s), ensure professional interpreter services, guarantee equality, non-discrimination and accessibility in education, employment and in other areas as listed in the Articles, to deaf people in their sign language. In addition, it includes the recognition and support of cultural and linguistic identity.

The Convention marks a paradigm shift from the medical model of disability to the social model which views deaf persons and persons with disabilities as individual rights-holders rather than objects in a paternalistic system.

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2.3. Parties to the UN CRPD

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Countries, as well as regional bodies, can sign and ratify the UN CRPD.

All 28 EU Member States and the EU itself have signed and ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

There is also the Optional Protocol to the UN CRPD which is a side-agreement to the UN CRPD that establishes an individual complaint mechanism for the Convention. By signing this protocol, the State Parties recognise the competence of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to consider complaints from individuals or groups concerning any violations of the rights enshrined in the UN CRPD. The Committee has the possibility to request information from and make recommendations to a State Party.

Furthermore, States Parties may consent to Committee investigating, reporting and making recommendations on serious or systematic violations of the Convention. State Parties may derogate from this obligation upon signature or ratification.

Only 22 EU Member States has ratified the Optional Protocol. Those who have not ratified are Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Ireland, Netherlands, Poland, Romania. Not to mention the other non-EU EUD member countries that have not ratified the Optional Protocol either: Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland.

 
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2.4. Effect of the ratification of the UN CRPD

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Once the Convention is ratified, it becomes legally binding on the national level. Countries and regional bodies are thus under a legal obligation to implement all the Articles of the Convention and must promote, protect and fulfil the rights contained in these Articles.

After the ratification, all States Parties are obliged to submit an initial State Parties Report to the Committee on how the rights are being implemented. States Parties must initially report within two years of accepting the Convention and every four years thereafter.

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2.5. Implementation of the UN CRPD on the national level

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Ratification alone is not enough, implementing measures are necessary for the realisation of the rights of deaf persons and persons with disabilities.

Article 4 of the UN CRPD requires State Parties to promote the full realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all persons with disabilities, without discrimination of any kind by: 

  • adopting legislative, administrative and other measures that ensure rights listed in the UN CRPD;
  • adopting legislative, administrative and other measures to abolish discrimination;
  • protecting and promoting the rights of persons with disabilities in all policies and programs;
  • not engaging in any act or practice that is inconsistent with the UN CRPD;
  • ensuring that the public sector acts in conformity with the UN CRPD;
  • eliminate discrimination on the basis of disability;
  • undertaking or promoting research and development of new technologies suitable for persons with disabilities;
  • providing accessible information regarding assistance, support services and facilities to persons with disabilities;
  • promoting the training of professionals and staff who work with persons with disabilities;
  • involving persons with disabilities in developing and implementing legislation and policies and in all decision-making processes related to persons with disabilities. 

Implementation requires all relevant measures after exploring all possible options according to the national context. The measures in question are legislative, administrative and any other measures that allow full and effective implementation. For instance, legislation alone without the necessary funds increases the risk of non-implementation of well-thought-out laws due to a lack of resources. It is also necessary to review the entire legislative arsenal to ensure that there are no laws contrary to the Convention. If so, it would therefore be necessary to amend or abolish those conflicting laws in order to remain in line with the Convention.

On the national level, Article 33 UN CRPD indicates three relevant mechanisms for the implementation and monitoring of the Convention.

1)    States Parties must designate one or more focal points within the government for matters relating to the implementation of the Convention and can establish a coordination mechanism within the government to facilitate related actions in different sectors and at different levels. 

2)    States Parties must maintain, strengthen, designate or establish a framework, including one or more independent mechanisms to promote, protect and monitor implementation of the Convention.

3)    Civil society, in particular persons with disabilities and their representative organizations, must be involved and participate fully in the monitoring process.

Although monitoring is dealt with in a separate section (see below), it can also be seen as an implementation measure. It is even an excellent way to verify the effectiveness of the measures being undertaken and to refine them accordingly while correcting human rights violations.

Parliaments also play a role in the implementation of the Convention because, in addition to adopting legislation, they act as a safeguard against the executive by holding them accountable. This is why better information on the rights of persons with disabilities to parliamentarians could have a lasting impact on the progress of UN CRPD implementation since they would be better informed about the issues concerned.

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3. Monitoring and reporting

Several stakeholders are involved during the monitoring and reporting process. Namely:

1. The representatives from the national governments as States Parties to the UN CRPD;

2. The UN CRPD Committee as a committee to assess progress in implementation;

3. Civil Society – various organisations representing people with disabilities: Disabled Persons Organisations, Non-governmental organisations (e.g. National Disability Councils, National Associations of the Deaf).

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3.1. Reporting cycle

Each State party to the Convention must submit to the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities an initial comprehensive report on measures taken to implement the Convention. The report must be submitted within two years of the ratification and entry into force of the Convention. Thereafter, the State Party submits a State Parties Report every four years. State Parties Reports are also called Periodic Reports. Periodic reporting can be seen as a cycle. This means that it is not a single action or single event, but rather it is a multi-step procedure.

The Committee receives the State Party's Report and a member of the Committee, the country’s rapporteur, inspects the documents. Once the documents have been examined, the Committee decides whether any information is missing from the Report and returns a List of Issues to the State Party. The latter then prepares to complete the information and its written responses to the Lists of Issues that are a prerequisite for the meeting with the Committee.

The State Party and the Committee then meet in Geneva for during which Constructive Dialogue takes place in the form of plenary session. During this meeting, representatives from a government and the Members of the UN CRPD Committee discuss the progress that has been made towards implementation in a constructive manner. Following the constructive dialogue, the Committee issues its opinions and Concluding Observations for the follow-up of the implementation. The Concluding Observations are recommendations that will form the basis for preparation of the next cycle. 

Not only must the State Party prepare follow-up on Recommendations for the next cycle on this basis, in accordance with the Article 36 of the Convention, the State Party must ensure that the State Party Reports are available to the public in their own country and that the public have access to general suggestions and Recommendations about the State Party’s Reports. 

To resume, this cycle is structured as follows:

Ratification to the UN CRPD – Submission of the Initial State report for the Committee – Adoption of the Committee’s List of Issues – the Government’s written responses – Constructive dialogue between the government and the UN Committee – Concluding observations written by the UN CRPD Committee (recommendations) – Implementation of the recommendations by the State party, and thereafter every 4 years the cycle continues: Submission of the State Party report for the Committee – Adoption of the Committee’s List of Issues – the Government’s written responses – Constructive dialogue between the government and the UN Committee – Concluding observations written by the UN CRPD Committee (recommendations) – Implementation of the recommendations by the State party.

 

 

 

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3.2. Initial and State Parties Reports explained

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The State Party’s Report should be written in consultation with the government, civil society and the National Human Rights Institution (NHRI) before submission. In concrete terms, the State Party must prepare the common core document which includes general information on the State itself, and information concerning the protection and promotion of human rights.

In addition to this general document, the State Party must also send the treaty-specific document which contains, as its name indicates, specific information related to the legislative implementation of the articles of the Convention and its analyses on developments in the realisation of the rights of any person with disability and the consequential measures to address them.

State Parties Reports are submitted by the States Parties under Article 35 of the UN CRPD to the Committee. Before going into detail, it is necessary to distinguish according to the report will be made for the first time or not. 

If the State is reporting for the first time, it prepares an Initial report:

Each State Party to the CRPD is required to submit a comprehensive (initial) report to the UN CRPD Committee within two years after the UN CRPD enters into force for that State. 

The initial report is comprised of a common core document, which provides general information common to all human rights treaty bodies, and a treaty-specific document, which contains information specific to the implementation of the UN CRPD.

The Common core document: includes general information on the State itself, and information concerning the protection and promotion of human rights. It is a 60-80-page report that contains information of a general and factual nature on the implementation of all the human rights treaties which a State has ratified. It is transmitted in the same format to all human rights treaty bodies to which the State is a party and should be updated by the State on a regular basis in order to ensure that the information is current. The common core document is therefore not disability-specific.

The treaty-specific document: it is a report of a maximum of 60 pages and should contain specific information on the implementation in law and in practice of the articles of the UN CRPD. State Parties, according to the structure in numerical order of the articles of the Convention, mention whether they have adopted policies, strategies and a national legal framework for the implementation of each right enshrined in the Convention. They should also identify resources for that purpose and the cost-effectiveness in the use of those resources. The State Parties should also indicate any monitoring mechanism to ensure that the rights contained in the Convention are realised and that the obligations are integrated into their actions. They also must indicate the obstacles that go beyond the possibilities of the States Parties that impede the realization of the rights of the Convention and the details of the steps that have been or must be undertaken to overcome them. Any remedies available for violations of the rights of the Convention will also be mentioned, as well as statistical data on the status of the implementation of the Convention's rights.

State Party Reports:

State Parties are required to submit State Parties Reports at least every four years, or more frequently if so, requested by the Committee. Those States Parties Reports should not repeat the information originally provided in the Initial State Parties Report, but instead should provide information on the measures that have been adopted to follow-up on the conclusions and recommendations made by the Committee during the examination of the Initial State Parties Report. The State Parties Reports should also provide information on any significant developments (either positive or negative) since the consideration of the Initial States Parties Report.

The State Parties Reports are submitted to the Committee. A member of the Committee, the country rapporteur, is appointed for the inspection of the State Party Report before deciding whether any information is missing from the State Party Report and returns a List of Issues to the State Party who submitted the State Party Reports.

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3.3. List of issues explained

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Following the submission of the State Party Report, the Committee prepares for its dialogue with the State Party by requesting additional information in the form of a List of Issues.

The UN CRPD Committee conducts a preliminary review of the State Party Report and prepares a List of issues which serves to supplement and update the information provided in the State Party Report. The State Party is requested to respond to the List of issues in writing within a set time limit, which is commonly three months. The report and the responses to the list of issues are then considered at the next plenary session. Civil Society and DPOs can also be involved in the process (see below).

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3.4. Constructive Dialogue during the plenary session (in Geneva) explained

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Representatives from the State Party are invited to participate in the Constructive Dialogue to respond to questions posed by Committee members and to provide the Committee with additional information. The Constructive Dialogue is divided into two meetings that last 3 hours each on two different days.

The State Party Report and the responses to the List of issues form the basis of the discussion between the State Party and the Committee. This is why this step is also named “Constructive Dialogue”.

In detail, the meeting begins with the presentation of the representative of the State Party and the introduction of the country rapporteur. The Committee then asks a series of questions about the State party's Report. Once the Committee have finished their questions, the State Party takes the floor, through its representatives, to try to answer the questions as fully as possible. Afterwards, the committee meets in a private session to discuss the outcome of the State Party’s responses and prepare concluding observations and recommendations.

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3.5. Concluding Observations explained

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Following the Constructive Dialogue, the Committee issues its Concluding Observations, which highlight critical issues of concern and make recommendations for follow-up actions.

The Concluding Observations identify the positive aspects, the factors, and the difficulties impeding the implementation of the UN CRPD, alongside the principal subjects of concern and concrete suggestions and recommendations for future action.

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3.6. Procedures to follow up on the implementation of UN CRPD Committee’s Concluding Observations

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According to Article 36 (4) of the Convention, the Committee has adopted a follow-up procedure whereby it identifies several specific recommendations of concern in its Concluding Observations and requests the State Party to provide additional information on implementation of those concerns, within a period of up to one year.

The Committee may appoint one of its Members to serve as Country Rapporteur to follow-up, who will then submit a follow-up report to the Committee within two months of receiving the information from the State party. Civil society should be consulted again during this stage.

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4. Being involved during your country review process as National Associations of the Deaf (NAD)

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4.1. Why should NADs be involved before, during and after the review process?

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The Convention, through Article 33, paragraph 3, encourages Civil society and representative organisations such as NADs to participate effectively during the review process. Articles 3 and 4 of the Convention emphasise the importance of active involvement of persons with disabilities through representative organisations for the implementation of the UN CRPD.

Being involved in the review process is an excellent opportunity to provide the government with your perspective regarding the implementation of the UN CRPD, as the deaf perspective is often not taken into account. It is also an opportunity to establish a relationship with the representatives in the government and collaborate with them while developing deaf-related legislative acts and policies in the future. It is necessary to establish a close collaboration with the governments as organisations representing deaf people are the ones that must be consulted during the development of laws that aim at protecting rights of the deaf persons.

NADs are the organisations which fully understand the situation of deaf people and they alone can ensure that the deaf perspective is visible throughout the review process. Without the involvement of NADs, it is difficult to ensure that the implementation of the rights of deaf people is ensured and closely monitored.

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4.2. When should NADs start getting involved?

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The NADs can be involved throughout the review process. NADs may be involved at a number of different stages of the reporting process such as during the preparation of the State Party report, the preparation of reports submitted by national monitoring frameworks, through the preparation of a parallel report (alternative report) by the National Disability Council or by drafting their own alternative report and at various stages during the constructive dialogue.

Information may be submitted at various stages of the process such as prior to the adoption of the list of issues, the dialogue with State Parties and the adoption of the concluding observations.

These are the key moments when NADs must be included in the review process:

  • Before the State Party prepares and submits its State Party Report;
  • Before the preparation of reports submitted by national monitoring frameworks;
  •  submitting an Alternative Report or participating in the preparation of an Alternative Report by national DPO coalitions or National Disability Councils;
  • Before the adoption of the List of Issues by the UN CRPD Committee;
  • After the State Party has submitted its responses to the List of Issues and before the Constructive Dialogue;
  • Before the Committee adopts the Concluding Observations;
  • After the adoption of the Concluding Observations.
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4.3. How can NADs be involved?

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There are several ways for NADs to get involved. The active participation of civil society, including NADs, in influencing the reporting process is an important way in which to monitor, promote and follow-up the work of the UN CRPD Committee.

The best way to be involved is firstly to collect information from legislation, legal cases on disability issues, policies, research and/or media before analysing the information to verify whether the legal or case-law analysis is in accordance with the rights and obligations enshrined in the Convention.

The key recommendations for NADs are also to identify the country's focal point, coordination mechanism and determine their exact functions since their role can vary according to the nature of the State system and adapt according to it. Then, develop a relationship of trust with the representatives of the country’s focal point or coordination mechanism if any such exist.

It is also essential to be part of the National Disability Council and build a network with the various organisations that advocates for the rights of people with disabilities.

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4.3.1. Input to State Party Report: when & how?

State Parties are invited to prepare their reports on the implementation of the UN CRPD in an open and transparent manner. Therefore, civil society, including representative organisations of persons with disabilities – NADs, should be consulted by the government during the consultation process for the drafting of the State Party Report. NADs can, and should, use this opportunity to provide inputs from the deaf perspective to the State Party Report.

HOW ?

In some countries, the State Party may have an open consultation process whereby anyone who is interested may submit information or comment on the draft report. NADs should engage with the State Party during the preparation of the State Party Report in order to submit information and research, identify areas of concern, and make recommendations for future action. It is therefore advisable to contact the government to see if and when such consultation takes place.

WHEN ?

In the case where your association is not consulted or no public consultation has been conducted, it is always possible to have a say in the State Party Report by contacting the focal point within the meaning of Article 33 of the Convention, before or after the State Party submits its State Party Report.

Please note that since the Convention does not designate focal points to leave room to maneuver and respect the specificities of each government organisation, it may be that there are several focal points, including one from each ministry, or a single focal point, at the Ministry of Justice, for example.

NADs need to keep track of how and when States Parties are preparing and submitting the State Party reports. The State Party has to submit the Initial Report two years after the entry into force of the CRPD. After that, the State party must submit a State Party Report every four years. You may find information about your country through the UN Treaty Body Database.

Accessibility of the procedure

As a corollary to the effective involvement and participation of civil society (Article 33.3) in the monitoring procedure, it must be accessible to people with disabilities. Article 4.3 of the Convention also states that States parties must closely consult and actively involve persons with disabilities. Although the Articles do not indicate how participation should take place in practice, it is generally accepted that participation of people with disabilities must be meaningful to the process, both with States Parties and focal points, by meeting accessibility needs.

For the deaf people, it is the provision of sign language and written information sharing whether it is interviews during meetings, UN CRPD training sessions or interviews conducted as part of the follow-up of the monitoring procedure. The accessibility of the monitoring procedure also depends on the funds allocated by governments for the provision of professional interpreters. In cases where there are no professional interpreters, governments should allocate the necessary resources to establish sign language interpretation training in collaboration with NADs.

 
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4.3.2. Influencing the reports of national monitoring frameworks

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The UN CRPD requires that each State Party establish a framework to promote, protect and monitor the Convention. The framework may consist of a single independent body, such as a national human rights institution (NHRI), or may include a number of entities.

One of the main functions of the framework is to monitor the implementation of the UN CRPD. This may be done by conducting research, developing indicators and benchmarks, or collecting information on human rights violations. Reports are generally submitted to governmental bodies. The national monitoring framework may choose to submit its own report to the UN CRPD Committee on the implementation of the UN CRPD at the national level.

DPOs, including NADs, should encourage the framework to submit a report and to hold a consultation on the implementation of the UN CRPD and should actively participate in any consultation process.

NADs are strongly encouraged to actively participate in consultations with the national monitoring framework and NHRIs. They should, however, conduct their own monitoring exercise and submit their own report to the Committee in order to ensure that the Committee receives unfiltered information directly from the DPOs. DPOs may wish, however, to coordinate their submission with that of the national monitoring framework and NHRIs in order to highlight key issues of concern for civil society and to avoid too much of an overlap amongst the reports.

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4.3.3. Alternative Reports

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As indicated in Article 4.3 and 33.3 of the Convention, the participation of DPOs in the entire process at the national level is encouraged. Moreover, this continues even once the State Party has finalised the State Party Report and sent to the UN CRPD Committee.

There is an opportunity for DPOs to draft an Alternative Report. This opportunity is demonstrated by the preparation of a Report that will provide the UN CRPD Committee with a better understanding of the problems that have arisen in the implementation of the UN CRPD at the national level. This so-called Alternative Report is different from the State Party's Report because the Report is no longer prepared by the State Party itself but by either a coalition of CSOs or by an DPO. This provides a clear legitimacy to highlight disability issues concretely and to address sensitive issues.


Alternative Report

the Alternative Report is carried out by an organisation within the State Party to highlight the latter’s shortcomings and to focus on a particular situation. It is a way of informing the UN CRPD Committee of the progress of implementation at the national level through analysis of national legislation, providing complementary information and concerns of the persons with disabilities and that includes your NAD’s perspective, to ensure that the Committee has all the information at its disposal for the Constructive Dialogue.

Not only does the preparation of the Alternative Report raise issues to the UN CRPD Committee responsible for monitoring the implementation of the Convention, it further helps to establish and strengthen the national coalition of different DPOs (where appropriate) by working closely together to provide the Alternative Report with inputs from experts in the disability field supplied by coalition members. This can lead to dialogue with government officials on areas for improvement.


At the level of your NAD, it is possible to either work with the coalition on the Alternative Report or to proceed with the elaboration of the Alternative Report alone. 

When should you provide Input to an Alternative Report drafted by National Disability Council & who is the contact point?


Often, National Disability Councils lead the process of drafting an Alternative Report.

Even if it is possible to submit the Alternative Report before the submission of the State Party Report, it is suggested to send it after the submission of the State Party Report so that the Committee may comment on the State Party Report if needed. In this way, observations and recommendations can be as complete as possible. In any case, it is recommended that such information is transmitted at least two months prior to the relevant sessions of the Committee.


The NADs must be consulted and provide their input to the National Disability Council for the Alternative Report, if the National Disability Council is drafting one. If you have not yet received an invitation to participate in the drafting of the Alternative Report, do not hesitate to contact the National Disability Council to see whether or not such a project is in the pipeline. At the same time, these contacts make it possible to forge cooperation links that would be beneficial for the future. 

It is possible that the civil society coalition may have been established for the drafting of the Alternative Report. A Coalition can be made up of various organisations working with people with disabilities who pool their expertise to achieve common goal, in this case in the drafting of the Alternative Report. It is important to keep in mind that the Coalition must unequivocally agree on values, missions and objectives and develop a common strategy such as task allocation, milestone setting and deadlines before embarking on writing. NADs can become part of such coalition and provide it with their expertise regarding the matter important for the deaf community.

Drafting an Alternative Report


If your NAD wishes, it is possible to prepare your own Alternative Report.


It is important that the Alternative Report should not repeat the information contained in the State Party Report but complement it by underlining obstacles, priorities and highlighting specific, objective information on the concrete implementation of the UN CRPD as well as realistic recommendations. It is also possible to read the reporting guidance document for further information.

Methodology :


Although there are no requirements for structuring the Alternative Report, it is advisable to adopt a methodological approach so that the Committee has a clearer understanding of the situation of people with disabilities and the solutions that emerge. The structure is as follows:


1. Executive summary (principal concerns, advances and recommendations)

2. Table of contents

3. Methodology for preparing the report

4. General background to help with understanding the context

5. Key issues (articles in numerical order)

6. Accurate recommendations

Timing :

Regarding the timing, we remind you that even if it is allowed to submit the Alternative Report before the submission of the State Report, it is suggested to submit it following the submission of the State Party report so that the Committee can comment on the State Party report if needed. The deadline for making a contribution is a minimum of one month before the beginning of the session.

 

You can find the Guidelines on the core document and treaty-specific documents to be submitted by States parties under Article 35, paragraph 1, of the CRPD for inspiration about the content of the Alternative Report.

Formalities :

Any contribution must comply with the formalities decided by the committee. Namely, a maximum of 5350 words for Alternative Reports. This Alternative Report should include an introduction to the organisation, a brief description of its activities and missions and the role that people with disabilities play in the organisation as well as their rate of inclusion and participation in the drafting process.


Please note that the information contained in the Alternative Report must be clear and precise, such as the specific rights, listed obligations and recommendations. If the recommendations are vague, this may be unclear for the State Party regarding implementation or lead to ineffective implementation.


The report should be sent to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, secretariat of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, at crpd@ohchr.org.

If you require assistance during the drafting an Alternative Report, please get in touch with EUD’s policy team.

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4.3.4. Input to the List of Issues (LoI)

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The List of Issues is a list of questions created by the UN CRPD Committee to receive more information or to clarify the State Party Report provided by the Member State. Prior to meeting with the governmental delegation, the Committee will prepare a List of Issues in order to clarify or complete the information provided in the State Party report or to allow the State Party to update the Committee on any recent changes since the submission of its report.

The drafting of the List of Issues is prepared by the Country Rapporteur, a member of the Committee assigned to conduct an extensive study of the report under review. The List of Issues is adopted in private, but any written information provided to the Committee by DPOs prior to the preparation of the List of Issues may influence the issues that are raised by the Committee.

NADs have an opportunity to provide information by sending a document separately or requesting a meeting with the Committee. NADs may be invited to meet with the Committee during the drafting of the List of Issues. A written request must be made to the Committee at least two months prior to the session in which the List of Issues will be discussed. NADs can then make a presentation of no longer than fifteen minutes.

If you wish to get in touch with the Committee and/or provide them with an additional information and need any assistance, contact EUD’s policy team.

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4.3.5. Participating at the plenary session of the UN CRPD Committee – Constructive Dialogue

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The State Party Report is examined during a public session of the Committee. Generally, each report is scheduled to be considered during one day (two, three-hour meetings) but may be extended by an extra half day (one, three-hour meeting) when necessary. DPOs and other relevant stakeholders may attend as observers.

It is possible for NADs to participate at the Committee’s sessions either at a:

  • Session that precedes the Constructive Dialogue with the State Party. This session is held during lunchtime for the members of the Committee, which is open to the public, to discuss issues relating to the Member State to which the report will be reviewed at the following session.
  • Session of the Constructive Dialogue as the meetings are open to the public. This means that it is also possible to follow the meeting remotely via live webcasting. NADs, along with other civil societies, are observers without the possibility of taking the floor to ask questions.


Besides that, the Committee will organise itself to meet with civil societies to obtain their views before the Constructive Dialogue takes place. These sessions are private. If desired, a scheduled meeting with the Committee can be requested, and the Chairman of the Committee will decide whether or not to grant the request.

NADs may be able to meet with Committee members either formally or informally during the session in order to present additional information, to provide updates, or to suggest possible questions to be raised with the State delegation. It is also an opportunity to obtain a first-hand picture of the dialogue with the government.

EUD strongly encourages NADs to participate in the meetings with the Committee.

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4.3.6. Input to the Concluding Observations: when & how?

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Following the dialogue with the State Party, the Committee issues Concluding Observations which will identify the positive aspects as well as the difficulties impeding the implementation of the UN CRPD, in addition to the principle subjects of concern. The Concluding Observations also make suggestions and recommendations for concrete action at the national level.

Concretely, the Country Rapporteur coordinates the preparation of the Concluding Observations and returns the statements exchanged with the State Party. It is possible for NADs to meet informally with the Committee members to remind them of some key issues and suggest that they focus attention on some of the topics that have been identified as priorities.

The work does not end here as the Concluding Observations serve as a basis for the follow-up and to effectively exert influence for further UN CRPD implementation at the national level. The contact point for further implementation at the national level is the national monitoring mechanisms. NADs can take this opportunity to organise a meeting with representatives of the public authorities to discuss the recommendations of the UN CRPD Committee or to use them as an advocacy tool and a basis for guiding their missions/duties.

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4.4. What is the role of the National Disability Council (NDC)?

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The responsibilities of the NDC, among others, include collaborating with the government and giving their advice on the legislation or policies that will influence people with disabilities that are in the process of being passed by parliament and making recommendations for any decisions that may be taken by public authorities that will have a direct or indirect impact on the lives of people with disabilities. NDC play an important role during the UN CRPD review process too. As an umbrella organisation on the national level, a NDC is often is consulted while drafting the State Party Report or during other stages of the reporting cycle.

During the UN CRPD review as well as during any legislative preparation that affects people with disabilities, the NDC should be consulted by the government which will ensure that people with disabilities who can be influenced by the laws are given an opportunity to express their opinions.

It is essential that the NDC leads and reinforces a united group comprised of different organisations that cover all categories of disability. Those specialists can make sure that all voices will be heard during the UN CRPD review. NADs should get in touch with the NDC on the national level and start collaborating from an early stage. This will ensure that the action on the national level is coordinated and that NADs are consulted and given an opportunity to provide their input throughout the review process.

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4.5. How can EUD and EDF provide you with assistance during the review process?

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Role of EUD: (1) survey - (2) contact points

EUD's role is to assist their member associations as needed during the UN CRPD review process. EUD offers expertise while drafting an Alternative Report, providing input to the State Party Report or getting in touch with the UN CRPD Committee. Also, EUD always supports its members on the social media during the Constructive Dialogues. 

EUD can advise on the strategy that NADs should have during the review without ever replacing the associations so as not to affect their national roles. The aim is for the associations to be autonomous while receiving support from EUD.

NADs are encouraged to get in touch with EUD’s policy team prior to the review process.

Contact points:

Martyna BALCIUNAITE – Policy Officer (martyna.balciunaite@eud.eu)

Frankie PICRON – Policy Assistant (frankie.picron@eud.eu)

Role of EDF:

The European Disability Forum’s members are National Councils of Persons with Disabilities and European Organisations representing persons with disabilities. If National Associations of the Deaf struggle getting in touch with their National Disability Councils, EDF can serve as a bridge that can encourage a National Disability Council to consult NADs. NADs are encouraged to get in touch with EUD or/and EDF if any assistance is needed. 

Contact Points:

Martyna BALCIUNAITE – Policy Officer (martyna.balciunaite@eud.eu)

An-Sofie LEENKNECHT - EDF Human Rights Coordinator ansofie.leenknecht@edf-feph.org

 

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4.6. How to follow up on Concluding Observations on the national level?

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The concluding observations serves as a basis for the follow-up and the State Party plays a role as they must make their reports widely available according to Article 36 (4) of the Convention. 

NADs should monitor the efforts being made by the State Party to implement the Concluding Observations and report to the Committee on the progress being made or a lack thereof.

NADs and other DPOs should use the Concluding Observations as a way to stimulate a discussion at the national level, as it is important to raise awareness at the national level of the recommendations of the Committee through press conferences, round tables, seminars and workshops.

The Concluding Observations:

(1) should be translated into local languages, made available in accessible formats and sign languages and be disseminated to those working with persons with disabilities including lawyers, judges, social workers, teachers, and health professionals;

(2) should be used as a tool for DPOs to exert pressure on the government to follow up on the recommendations made by the Committee; 

(3) NADs and DPOs should consider holding meetings with government officials in order to discuss the recommendations of the Committee and to lobby for changes in legislation and practice. DPOs can offer to work with the government on the elaboration of legislation, policy developments and strategies to implement the Committee’s recommendations;

 

(4) can also be used by DPOs to guide their own work at the national level.

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