The European Union in the negotiation of the UN Disability Convention

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Series Details Vol.35, No.2, April 2010, p174-196
Publication Date April 2010
ISSN 0307-5400
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The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) is a novel and ambitious human-rights Treaty which entered into force in 2008. It has many interesting features, but this article focuses on two which are of particular relevance to the European Union. The first is its strikingly 'experimentalist' architecture (to use the term coined by Charles Sabel and Jonathan Zeitlin in describing EU governance), and the second is the fact that this was the first occasion on which the European Community, as it then was, participated in the drafting and signing of an international human-rights Treaty. The article examines the role played by the European Community in the process of negotiating the CRPD and considers whether the European Union significantly influenced the experimentalist character of the Convention. It concludes that, while the European Union was on the whole an active and supportive participant in the drafting process, the Convention's experimentalist character was driven by other factors, in particular by the central role of NGOs and other non-state actors in the negotiation process. The European Union, on the other hand, strove mainly to promote the adoption of its own internal model of disability discrimination at the international level, although it is unclear whether this was done primarily to avoid the cost of adaptation to a new regime or because the internal EU model was considered to be the most appropriate for tackling disability discrimination internationally.

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