Current Affairs

UN guidelines for people with disabilities

The United Nations has released its first-ever guidelines on access to social justice for people with disabilities to make it easier for them to access justice systems around the world. The guidelines outline a set of 10 principles and detail the steps for implementation.

As per statistics maintained by the UN, in India 2.4 per cent of males are disabled and two per cent of females from all age groups are disabled. Disabilities include psychological impairment, intellectual impairment, speaking, multiple impairments, hearing, seeing among others. 

What are these principles?

The 10 principles are 

  • Principle 1 – All persons with disabilities have legal capacity and, therefore, no one shall be denied access to justice on the basis of disability.
  • Principle 2 – Facilities and services must be universally accessible to ensure equal access to justice without discrimination of persons with disabilities.
  • Principle 3 – Persons with disabilities, including children with disabilities, have the right to appropriate procedural accommodations.
  • Principle 4 – Persons with disabilities have the right to access legal notices and information in a timely and accessible manner on an equal basis with others.
  • Principle 5 – Persons with disabilities are entitled to all substantive and procedural safeguards recognised in international law on an equal basis with others, and States must provide the necessary accommodations to guarantee due process.
  • Principle 6 – Persons with disabilities have the right to free or affordable legal assistance.
  • Principle 7 – Persons with disabilities have the right to participate in the administration of justice on an equal basis with others.
  • Principle 8 – Persons with disabilities have the rights to report complaints and initiate legal proceedings concerning human rights violations and crimes, have their complaints investigated and be afforded effective remedies.
  • Principle 9 – Effective and robust monitoring mechanisms play a critical role in supporting access to justice for persons with disabilities.
  • Principle 10 – All those working in the justice system must be provided with awareness-raising and training programmes addressing the rights of persons with disabilities, in particular in the context of access to justice.

How does the UN define a person with a disability?

The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which was adopted in 2007 as the first major instrument of human rights in the 21st century, defines persons with disabilities as those “who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others”.

What does discrimination on the basis of disability mean?

“‘Discrimination on the basis of disability’ means any distinction, exclusion or restriction on the basis of disability which has the purpose or effect of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal basis with others, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field. It includes all forms of discrimination, including denial of reasonable accommodation”, states the UN.