Backgrounder: Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities


Canada is a party to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (Convention). The Convention entered into force for Canada on April 10, 2010.

The Optional Protocol contains two procedures to strengthen the implementation of the Convention: an individual communications procedure and an inquiry procedure. The Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities will only deal with communications and inquiries from individuals or groups of individuals in countries that have joined the Optional Protocol.

1.     The individual communications procedure allows individuals or groups of individuals in a country to file a complaint with the Committee if they believe the country has violated their rights under the Convention. This complaint is known as a “communication.” The communication can also be made by a third party on behalf of individuals or groups of individuals.

A communication must meet a number of requirements before the Committee can consider it. For example, the Committee will not accept a complaint if it is lodged anonymously; the same situation has already been examined or is being examined by another body; the complainant did not use the avenues for recourse available domestically to the fullest extent; the complaint is without basis; or there is no proof. These requirements are known as “admissibility criteria.”

The Committee may request that the country take urgent interim action to avoid possible irreparable damage to the victim(s). The Committee may make this request at any time after receiving a communication and before considering its merits.

  1. The inquiry procedure allows the Committee to start and carry out an inquiry into trustworthy information about serious or widespread violations of rights under the Convention by a country. Where it is needed, and if the country concerned agrees, the Committee may visit the country as part of its inquiry. All inquiries are confidential and conducted with the cooperation of the country in question.

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