Today the Government have responded to the Joint Committee on Human Rights' recommendation, in its report A Life Like Any Other? Human Rights of Adults with Learning Disabilities, that the Government should ratify the UN Convention on Disability Rights and the optional protocol without further delay or provide clear unambiguous details of any specific impediments to immediate ratification.
The response makes it clear that the UK does not ratify any international treaty until it is in a position to ensure that it can implement the provisions and therefore comply with its obligations. In addition, the European Community is, for the first time, a party to an international human rights convention and this will inevitably affect the ratification timetable. Given the duty on member states to co-operate with the Community, the UK would wish to take into account the European Commission's proposal for Community Conclusion of the Convention which is still awaited.
Article 33 of the convention on disability rights is an unusual provision in UN human rights conventions. Article 33 requires states parties to the convention to establish national monitoring arrangements, and the Government have wished properly to consult the Equality and Human Rights Commission and the Devolved Administrations about these arrangements. These consultations are continuing.
Ratification will be in respect of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Part of this process has required the Devolved Administrations and government departments to check their legislation, policies, practices and procedures against the convention's provisions. This has inevitably taken some time. However, this phase of the work is now over and we are considering carefully the emerging findings. Our aim remains to ratify the convention by the end of this year.
The current position is that the Ministry of Defence has indicated that there is a need to enter a reservation in respect of service in the Armed Forces, consistent with the provisions of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 as amended (DDA) and Council Directive 2000/78/EC of
There are also a number of areas where we are continuing to explore whether there are any compatibility issues which may result in the need for an interpretative declaration or reservation. These are: measures relating to the exercise of legal capacity; aspects of mental health legislation; choice of place of residence; and cultural services (interpretive measures).
With regard to the optional protocol, the Government are aware of the importance that many disabled people and the committee attach to this issue. The Government are carefully considering their position as part of the convention ratification process in the light of the ongoing review by the Ministry of Justice of a similar optional protocol relating to the Conventionon the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women.