UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities enters into force - participation and accessibility key principles
The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol enter into force for Finland on 10 June. The Convention emphasises the right of persons with disabilities to fully participate in society. Persons with disabilities must be heard in all decision-making affecting them.
The aim of the Convention is to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by persons with disabilities and to promote respect for their human dignity. Persons with disabilities have the right to live independently and be included in the community.
The Optional Protocol to the Convention establishes a system that allows persons with disabilities to submit a complaint to the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities if they experience that their rights under the Convention have been violated. However, those making the complaint must first use all available domestic complaint mechanisms. A complaint can also be submitted by a group of persons with disabilities.
According to the Convention, persons with disabilities must have access to the general services on an equal basis with others both in urban and in rural areas. Individual specialised services must be arranged when necessary. In Finland, provisions on the specialised services are laid down in the disability legislation, which is being reformed at the moment.
The Convention also emphasises individual autonomy, which includes the freedom to make one’s own choices. Discrimination on the basis of disability is forbidden. Denial of reasonable accommodation needed by a person with disabilities is also regarded as discrimination.
Accessibility is one of the guiding principles of the Convention. The Convention also stresses the importance of universal design. Universal design means the design of products, environments, programmes and services to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialised design.
The national focal points for the Convention in Finland are the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health. A national coordination mechanism will be established in connection with the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health to replace the current National Council on Disability. The responsibility of the new mechanism is to coordinate the implementation of the Convention in the different administrative branches.
The Finnish National Human Rights Institution, functioning under the Office of the Parliamentary Ombudsman, is designated as the independent mechanism required by the Convention. The responsibility of the mechanism is to promote, protect and monitor the implementation of the Convention in Finland. The Finnish National Human Rights Institution consists of the Parliamentary Ombudsman, the Human Rights Centre and its Human Rights Delegation.
Director Eveliina Pöyhönen, tel. +358 295 63303, [email protected]
Secretary-General Merja Heikkonen, tel. 02951 63203, [email protected]
Disability policy (in Finnish)