Update: 11.12.2013

Swiss parliament adopts the Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

On 26 November 2013, the Council of States - the second chamber of Parliament - ratified the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities with a clear majority of 32 against 3 votes and 3 abstentions. The National Council had already adopted the bill in June 2013. Organisations defending the rights of persons with disabilities are content about this outcome.

By voting in favour of ratification  the Council of States now also accepts the key importance of the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, as Egalité Handicap writes in its media release. «In combination with existing laws on disabilities it shall help eliminate the numerous barriers both in terms of the general attitude towards handicapped persons and as regards various physical hindrances in everyday settings, which still greatly impede an autonomous way of life for persons with disabilities». Egalité Handicap plans to ensure a rigorous implementation of the Convention in all areas of life in cooperation with the Confederation and the cantons.

The Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is a «worldwide movement»

Concerns were being voiced in the National Council in summer 2012 that the Convention will force Switzerland into providing more support to disabled persons than previously. MPs calling for ratification of the bill answered that the Convention is to be regarded as a programmatic proposition rather than a statute.

Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter argued that concerns regarding this Convention were groundless since it contained a liberal message, substantiated the Swiss statutes on disabilities and strengthened its implementation. By joining the Convention which has already been ratified by 131 states and the EU, Switzerland would participate in a worldwide movement for the integration of persons with disabilities.

In the end, the National Council clearly refused a proposal for referral by Swiss People’s Party exponents by accepting the Federal Council’s proposal for ratification of the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities with 119 against 68 votes.

No individual right of complaint

On 19 December2012 the Federal Council adopted the dispatch on the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. In doing so the Federal Council affirmed its will to promote the equal treatment and integration of persons with disabilities. In the dispatch, the Federal Council explicitly stated that it does not want to ratify the Optional Protocol, which allows the treaty body to consider individual complaints and to initiate investigative procedures. By following this strategy, the Federal Council maintains its rejection of the direct application of economic, social and cultural human rights. According to the Federal Council, Switzerland should first get accustomed to the functioning of the treaty body by using the reporting procedure.

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