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General Comment No. 1 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Article 12: Equal recognition before the law (2014)

United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities International Human Rights Instruments and Resources General Comments of UN Treaties United Nations 19 May 2014 Policy document CRPD/C/GC/1 CRPD, human rights

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Equality before the law is a basic general principle of human rights protection and is
indispensable for the exercise of other human rights. The Universal Declaration of Human
Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights specifically guarantee
the right to equality before the law. Article 12 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons
with Disabilities further describes the content of this civil right and focuses on the areas in
which people with disabilities have traditionally been denied the right. Article 12 does not
set out additional rights for people with disabilities; it simply describes the specific
elements that States parties are required to take into account to ensure the right to equality
before the law for people with disabilities, on an equal basis with others.

On the basis of the initial reports of various States parties that it has reviewed so far,
the Committee observes that there is a general misunderstanding of the exact scope of the
obligations of States parties under article 12 of the Convention. Indeed, there has been a
general failure to understand that the human rights-based model of disability implies a shift
from the substitute decision-making paradigm to one that is based on supported decisionmaking. The aim of the present general comment is to provide further guidance and explore the general obligations deriving from the various components of article 12.

The present general comment reflects an interpretation of article 12 which is
premised on the general principles of the Convention, as outlined in article 3, namely,
respect for the inherent dignity, individual autonomy — including the freedom to make
one’s own choices —, and 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; and respect for the evolving capacities of children with disabilities and respect for the right of children with disabilities to preserve their identities.


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