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THE INDIVISIBILITY OF HUMAN RIGHTS AND THE CONVENTION ON THE RIGHTS OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 December 2018

Gauthier de Beco
Affiliation:
Reader in Human Rights, University of Huddersfield, gauthier.debeco@gmail.com.
Corresponding
E-mail address:

Abstract

This article argues that a new understanding of the indivisibility of human rights has emerged through the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). The CRPD has blurred the distinction between civil and political rights, on the one hand, and economic and social rights, on the other. After showing how this distinction has been blurred in the Convention, the article critically analyses the impact this has had on the concept of indivisibility, as well as its consequences for international human rights law more generally. It shows that there is now a shift away from a preoccupation with different categories of rights and towards concern for the real and actual enjoyment of human rights.

Type
Articles
Copyright
Copyright © British Institute of International and Comparative Law 2018 

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Footnotes

The author wishes to thank Paul Hunt (University of Essex), Margot Salomon (London School of Economics), Jenny Goldschmidt (University of Utrecht), Surya Subedi (University of Leeds), Michael Stein (Harvard University), Ian Cram (University of Leeds) and Jean d'Aspremont (University of Manchester and Sciences Po) for their valuable comments on an earlier version of this article. He benefited from feedback during a presentation on the topic at the occasion of the 16th Association of Human Rights Institutions (AHRI) Conference organized by the Netherlands Institute of Human Rights in Utrecht on 2–4 September 2016. The author is also grateful for the helpful comments of the two anonymous reviewers as well as the editor-in-chief. All errors remain his sole responsibility.

References

1 Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006) 46 ILM 443.

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6 UNGA, Universal Declaration of Human Rights (10 December 1948) A/RES/217.

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9 Tomuschat, C, Human Rights: Between Idealism and Realism (Oxford University Press 2014) 136–9Google Scholar; Sheinin, M, ‘Characteristics of Human Rights Norms’ in Krause, K and Scheinin, M (eds), International Protection of Human Rights: A Textbook (2nd edn, Åbo Akademi University 2009) 22Google Scholar. The former include the freedom from torture, right to liberty, right to privacy, right to access courts, freedom of opinion and freedom of assembly. The latter include the right to health, right to food, right to housing, right to education, right to work and right to social security.

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12 ECOSOC Res 1985/17 (28 May 1985). The role of overseeing the implementation of the ICESCR was initially given to ECOSOC, which subsequently established the CESCR for this purpose.

13 CESCR, General Comment No 3: The Nature of State Parties Obligations (Art. 2, Para. 1) (14 December 1990) E/1991/23, para 9.

14 CESCR, General Comment No 20: Non-Discrimination in Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (Art. 2, Para. 2) (29 May 2009) E/C.12/GC/20, para 7; Maastricht Guidelines on Violations of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights’ (1998) 20 HumRtsQ 691 (para 11)Google Scholar.

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20 Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) 1577 UNTS 3.

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22 Art 4 of the CRC provides that ‘[w]ith regard to economic, social and cultural rights, States Parties shall undertake all … measures to the maximum extent of their available resources … for the implementation of the rights recognized in the present Convention’.

23 Rishmawi (n 21) 16. As stated by the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC Committee), there is ‘no simple or authoritative division of human rights in general or of Convention rights into the two categories’ (CRC Committee, General Comment No 5: General Measures of Implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (27 November 2003) CRC/GC/2003/5, para 6).

24 I Cismas, ‘The Intersection of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights’ in Riedel, Giacca and Golay (n 7) 455–6. This can also be observed with non-binding international legal instruments, such as the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNGA, Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (13 September 2007) A/RES/61/295).

25 Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (10 December 2008) A/RES/63/117.

26 Hunt et al. (n 4) 553.

28 The HRC and CESCR have considered to date 1854 and 16 communications, respectively. See <http://juris.ohchr.org/search/documents>.

29 World Conference on Human Rights, Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, A/Conf.157/23 (25 June 1993) Pt II, para 5.

30 UNGA, World Summit Outcome (24 October 2005) A/RES/60/1, paras 13 and 120; UNGA, Res 60/251: Human Rights Council (15 March 2006) A/RES/60/251, Preamble; HRC, Res 5/1: Institution-building of the United Nations Human Rights Council (18 June 2007) A/HRC/RES/5/1, Preamble.

31 Such arguments have especially been made in the Asian context. See M Freeman, ‘Universalism of Human Rights and Cultural Relativism’ in Sheeran and Rodley (n 4) 54–7; Tomuschat (n 9) 68–70.

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35 For instance, one cannot exercise the freedom of expression and freedom of assembly without the right to an adequate standard of living or exercise the right to education and right to work without the freedom of expression and freedom of association.

36 For instance, the right to education has both a ‘social aspect’ and a ‘freedom aspect’, the last of which concerns the choice of education, and the right to work has both economic and political dimensions, via the right to form trade unions which is protected by the two Covenants.

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41 CESCR Committee, General Comment No 22 on the Right to Sexual and Reproductive Health (Art. 12) (2 May 2016) E/C.12/GC/22, para 10; CESCR Committee, General Comment No 21 on the Right of Everyone to Take Part in Cultural Life (Art. 15) (21 December 2009) E/C.12/GC/21, para 3.

42 CRC Committee, General Comment No 19 on Public Budgeting for the Realization of Children's Rights (Art. 4) (20 July 2016) CRC/C/GC/19, para 30.

43 CRPD Committee, General Comment No 1. Article 12: Equal Recognition before the Law (19 May 2014) CRPD/C/GC/1, paras 31–49; CRPD Committee, General Comment No 2. Article 9: Accessibility (22 May 2014) CRPD/C/ GC/2, paras 34–48.

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45 De Schutter (n 7); Moeckli, Shah, Sivakumaran and Harris (n 2).

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49 Nickel (n 46) 994–7.

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51 G Quinn, ‘Disability and Human Rights: A New Field in the United Nations’ in Krause and Scheinin (n 9) 257.

53 Bartlett (n 2) 758–61; P Harpur, ‘Embracing the New Disability Rights Paradigm: The Importance of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities’ (2012) 27 Disability & Society 3–4; Kayess, R and French, P, ‘Out of Darkness into Light? Introducing the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities’ (2008) 8 HRLR 24Google Scholar.

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56 Art 1, CRPD.

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61 The CRC's Preamble does not include such a statement.

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65 Art 5(3), CRPD.

66 Art 2, CRPD. Art 2 of the Convention defines reasonable accommodation as ‘necessary and appropriate modifications and adjustments not imposing a disproportionate or undue burden, where needed in a particular case, to ensure to persons with disabilities the enjoyment or exercise on an equal basis with others of all human rights and fundamental freedoms’.

67 Art 13(1) (access to justice), 14(2) (right to liberty and security of the person), 24(2)(c) (right to education) and 27(1)(i) (right to work), CRPD.

68 This had been confirmed earlier by the CESCR Committee (CESCR Committee, General Comment No 5: Persons with Disabilities (9 December 1994) E/1995/22, para 15).

69 Art 19(a), CRPD.

70 OHCHR, Thematic Study on the Right of Persons with Disabilities to Live Independently and Be Included in the Community (12 December 2014) A/HRC/28/37, paras 20–22; J Mendez, Report of the Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (1 February 2013) A/HRC/22/53, paras 69–70.

71 CRPD Committee, General Comment on Article 19: Living Independently and Being Included in the Community (29 August 2017) CRPD/C/18/1, para 18.

72 Art 19(b), CRPD.

73 CRPD Committee (n 71) para 29.

74 Arts 13 and 14, ICESCR.

75 Art 18(4), ICCPR.

76 See (n 36).

77 Art 24(1), CRPD.

78 CRPD Committee, General Comment No 4. Article 24: Right to Inclusive Education (2 September 2016) CRPD/C/GC/4, para 9.

79 Art 24(1)(a), CRPD.

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81 Art 24(3)(b), CRPD. See also art 30(4), CRPD and CRPD Committee (n 78) para 56.

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84 UNGA, Declaration on the Rights of Mentally Retarded Persons (20 December 1971) A/RES/26/2856; UNGA, Declaration on the Rights of Disabled Persons (9 December 1975) A/RES/3447 (XXX).

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86 Mégret (n 83) 265–6.

87 Art 1, CRPD.

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89 This is what the CRPD Committee proposed with the right to independent living (CRPD Committee (n 71) para 39).

90 Flóvenz (n 62) 267.

91 Mégret (n 59) 524.

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