UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Report of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

  • Seventeenth session (20 March–12 April 2017)
  • Eighteenth session (14–31 August 2017)
  • Nineteenth session (14 February–9 March 2018)
  • Twentieth session (27 August–21 September 2018)

IV. Overview of the Committee’s jurisprudence

C. The role of persons with disabilities and their representative organizations

1. Participation of persons with disabilities in the implementation and monitoring of the Convention at national level (articles 4 (3) and 33 (3))

  1. Decision makers at all levels must actively involve and consult the full range of persons with disabilities, through their representative organizations, including organizations of women with disabilities, older persons with disabilities, children with disabilities and persons with psychosocial or intellectual disabilities.22 Such organizations represent the vast diversity of persons with disabilities in society, in addition to the above, including autistic persons, persons with a genetic or neurological condition, persons with rare and chronic diseases, persons with albinism, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons, indigenous peoples, members of rural communities, victims of armed conflicts and persons from an ethnic minority or migrant background.23

3. Diversity of persons with disabilities

  1.  States parties should recognize the diversity of persons with disabilities and address the multitudes of barriers faced by the various groups of persons with all types of impairments.

Persons with all types of impairments

Intersectionality: various groups of persons with disabilities

  1. Disability is one of several layers of identity, and recognition of the various groups of persons with disabilities is important in terms of addressing intersectional and multiple forms of discrimination (see general comment No. 6). The Committee has recognized the rights of many groups of persons with disabilities, including the following: women; girls and boys; children; young people; older persons; minority, ethnic, religious and/or linguistic groups (including Roma); indigenous people; migrants, refugees and asylum seekers; non-nationals; people living in remote or rural areas; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex persons; persons of African descent; and other relevant very specific groups, such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia and Afro-Ecuadorian and Montubio people in Ecuador.37

4. Gender

  1. The Committee recognizes gender as a component of the diversity of persons with disabilities and a factor on the basis of which intersectional or multiple discrimination occurs, particularly affecting women with disabilities.38 The Committee has stressed that women and girls with disabilities face barriers in most areas of life, particularly gender-based discrimination and violence, including forced sterilization, sexual and physical abuse, and isolation.39
  2. The Committee has adopted an advanced definition of gender, whereby “sex” refers to biological differences and “gender” refers to the characteristics that a society or culture views as masculine or feminine.40 It has also referred to gender identity and gender expression.41 Gender equality and references to women with disabilities must be understood in a progressive fashion. Women with disabilities are not a homogenous group and include, among others, transgender women and intersex persons.42
  3. To ensure gender equality and the rights of women and girls with disabilities, States parties should consider gender when developing accessibility measures; providing health care, particularly reproductive care, including gynaecological and obstetric services; addressing stigma, prejudice and violence; and ensuring the realization of the rights to education and to live independently and be included in the community.43 In that context, all measures and monitoring of them must be gender-sensitive.44 The Committee has also emphasized that women and girls with disabilities should be involved in the design, implementation and monitoring of all programmes that have an impact on their lives, and that States parties need to promote the inclusion of women with disabilities in future elections of the Committee.45

6. Health (article 25), habilitation and rehabilitation (article 26) and prohibition of forced placement and treatment (articles 12 and 14 to 17)

Prohibition of involuntary treatment and placement

  1. Consistent with articles 12, 14 and 15 of the Convention, all forms of involuntary treatment and detention in health facilities based on the alleged dangerousness of the person or other elements based on the person’s impairment are prohibited. The Committee has emphasized that forced treatment by psychiatric and other health and medical professionals constitutes a violation of articles 12, 17, 15, and 16.66 The Committee has also stressed that involuntary or non-consensual commitment in mental health institutions and non-consensual treatment during deprivation of liberty are violations of the Convention.67 The Committee opposed the adoption of a draft additional protocol to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Dignity of the Human Being with regard to the Application of Biology and Medicine, of the Council of Europe, on the grounds that it was contrary to the letter and spirit of the Convention.68
  2. States parties should prohibit all forms of forced sterilization and medical or hormone-based interventions, such as lobotomy or the Ashley treatment; forced and coerced abortion; non-consensual birth control; forced drugging, including to “control the sexual behaviour” of persons with disabilities; and forced electroshock treatment.69 The Committee also condemned female genital mutilation and surgery or treatment performed on intersex children without their informed consent, taking the view that such practices amounted to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.70


22 General comment No. 5, para. 70.
23 General comment No. 6, para. 33.
37 For example, general comment No. 3, para. 5; general comment No. 5, para. 23; CRPD/C/AUS/CO/1, para. 12; CRPD/C/BRA/CO/1, para. 13; CRPD/C/CAN/CO/1, para. 20; CRPD/C/COL/CO/1, para. 57; CRPD/C/CYP/CO/1, para. 16; CRPD/C/ECU/CO/1, para. 53; CRPD/C/HUN/CO/1, para. 42; and CRPD/C/SRB/CO/1, para. 59.
38 General comment No. 1, para. 35, and general comment No. 2, para. 29.
39 General comment No. 3, para. 2, and general comment No. 5, paras. 72, 74 and 83.
40 General comment No. 3, para. 4 (b).
41 General comment No. 5, paras. 8 and 60, and general comment No. 6, paras. 21 and 34.
42 General comment No. 3, para. 5.
43 General comment No. 2, paras. 29 and 40; general comment No. 4, para. 46; general comment No. 5, paras. 23, 35 and 72; and general comment No. 6, para. 66.
44 General comment No. 5, paras. 83 and 86.
45 General comment No. 3, para. 63 (c); see also the Committee’s statement on achieving gender balance and equitable geographical representation in the elections of members of the Committee, adopted during its seventeenth session, held from 20 March to 12 April 2017.
66 General comment No. 1, para. 42.
67 “Guidelines on article 14 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: the right to liberty and security of persons with disabilities”, adopted during the Committee’s fourteenth session, held from 17 August to 4 September 2015, paras. 10–11.
68 See “Statement by the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities calling States parties to oppose the draft Additional Protocol to the Oviedo Convention”, adopted during the Committee’s twentieth session, held from 27 August to 21 September 2018.
69 For example, general comment No. 6, para. 7, and CRPD/C/RUS/CO/1, para. 34.
70 General comment No. 3, para. 44.

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Report of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

General Assembly
Official Records
Seventy-fourth Session
Supplement No. 55

This document shows how, and on what grounds, intersex was integrated into the CRPD Committee’s policy in 2017 and 2018.