On 22 February the European Parliament Subcommittee on Human Rights, led by Chairwoman Heidi Hautala, held a historic debate concerning EU ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The ratification is major development in the protection of human rights in Europe because this is the first ever core UN human rights treaty ratified by the EU. [:]
This treaty contributes to promotion of human rights and equal treatment for 650 millions of persons worldwide. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is a groundbreaking agreement as it is first to identify people with disabilities as right holders, not objects of charity.
Ratification by EU will have significant impact on EU policies as, for example, it must now guarantee accessibility and consideration for persons with disabilities concerning many projects, policies and wider infrastructure.
Representatives of United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Spanish Presidency of the EU, the European Commission and the European Disability Forum took part in the debate.
Discussion concerned mainly the completion of the ratification process and Chairwoman Hautala expressed her discontent especially concerning the delay in this regards. According to the Council Decision of 26 November 2009, the President of the Council is authorised to deposit the instrument of formal ratification of the Convention with the Secretary-General of the United Nations, but current agreement amongst the 27 EU member states is nevertheless such that each of them will have to ratify the treaty first and only after this will the Convention be ratified by the EU. “This approach seems to be based solely on a political rather than juridical reasons”, Chairwoman Hautala criticised.
Chairwoman Hautala underlined that with the entry into force of the Lisbon treaty the EU has now ability to join the international conventions and that the Union should continue to show leadership and ratify more core UN human rights treaties. Moreover, I look forward to EU’s swift accession to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, Chairwoman Hautala added.