European Convention on Human Rights
The European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, better known as the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) is the basis of the European human rights system. It was drafted by the Council of Europe in 1950 and has been in force since 1953. It was the first regional treaty designed to protect human rights, democracy and the rule of law. All 47 Council of Europe Member States have signed the Convention. Ireland ratified the ECHR in 1953.
The ECHR does not specify any particular rights for persons with disabilities, but emphasises in Article 1 that contracting states must secure to everyone within their jurisdiction the rights and freedoms defined in this Convention.
Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union
The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union was declared in 2000, and became legally binding on the European Union with the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon in December 2009. The Charter brings together the most important personal freedoms and rights enjoyed by citizens of the EU into one legally binding document, under six titles including Dignity, Freedoms, Equality, Solidarity, Citizens’ Rights, and Justice.
Article 26 (Title 3: Equality) is entitled ‘Integration of Persons with Disabilities’ and states that 'The Union recognises and respects the right of persons with disabilities to benefit from measures designed to ensure their independence, social and occupational integration and participation in the life of the community.'
European Commission Strategy for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2021-2030
In March 2021, the European Commission adopted the Union of Equality: Strategy for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2021-2030.
The Strategy builds on the results of the previous European Disability Strategy 2010-2020, and it gives due consideration to both the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (which the EU ratified in 2011) and the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It contains a number of priorities, flagship initiatives, and opportunities for Member States to work together to improve the lives of disabled people across the EU.
Council of Europe Disability Strategy
Promoting and protecting human rights of all persons and upholding democracy and the respect of the rule of law is the core of Council of Europe work. The protection of rights, safeguarded and guaranteed under the European Convention on Human Rights, applies to all, including persons with disabilities. The Council of Europe Strategy on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2017–2023 was drafted in 2016 by Council of Europe Member States, in co-operation with civil society and other stakeholders. It was adopted on 30 November 2016.
The Strategy complements the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in calling on States to implement actions in key areas covered in the Convention. These include equality and non-discrimination, awareness-raising, accessibility, equal recognition before the law, and freedom from exploitation, violence and abuse.