On March 7 2018, and 10 years since Ireland signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD), the Dáil Éireann (House of Representatives) approved a resolution that enables Ireland to ratify the CRPD. This means that finally there is universal ratification in the European Union.
The approval of the resolution by the Dáil will be followed by the depositing of the instrument of ratification with the United Nations. The CRPD then enters into force 30 days after being deposited.
Ireland remained the only Member State of the European Union (EU) that had not yet ratified the CRPD, meaning that it has not yet entered into force in the EU. All other 27 EU Member States, as well as the EU itself as a regional organisation, have ratified the CRPD and have been working on its implementation. The UN CRPD was signed by the EU in 2007 and later ratified in December 2010. At last count, 175 countries have ratified it worldwide.
Ireland has however entered several reservations and declarations on articles 12, 14 and 27 of the CRPD. The reservations and declarations to article 12 and 14, in particular, are worrying as they are at the core of the Convention, and without their realisation, persons with disabilities cannot fully enjoy all their human rights enshrined in the CRPD.
The EU, UK, Malta, Poland, Belgium, Estonia, France, Lithuania, the Netherlands and Norway also made reservations and restrictive declarations upon ratifying the CRPD. The CRPD committee is consistently calling on all countries to withdraw their reservations and restrictive declarations as they are incompatible with the object and purpose of the CRPD. Autism-Europe, as member of the European Disability Forum (EDF), will continue to campaign for the withdrawal of those reservations and restrictive declarations.
By end of 2016, EDF and other European DPOs were surprised to learn that ratification did not take place at that time, given that the Irish Government had earlier that year made repeated commitments for ratification by the end of 2016. For this, together with its member the Disability Federation of Ireland (DFI), EDF sent a letter to Ireland’s Prime Minister, to raise the concerns on this issue. In this letter DPOs were asking the Irish government for further information concerning the planned process and timeline for the ratification of the CRPD, as well as the planning and resourcing for post-ratification implementation.