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Non-discrimination, Accommodation, and Intersectionality under the CRPD: New Trends and Challenges for the UN Human Rights System

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On 3 May 2008, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) entered into force. The CRPD is the first human rights treaty adopted by the UN General Assembly in the 21st century. It is also the first binding international law instrument that specifically and comprehensively addresses disability from a human rights perspective. Building on existing UN human rights treaties, the CRPD aims to strengthen the effective enjoyment of all human rights by persons with disabilities. Specifically, the new convention seeks to remedy the neglect and marginalization of the rights of persons with disabilities not just at the national level but also at the international level, most notably within the UN treaty system. In this regard, the new convention endorses innovative and new approaches relating to, inter alia, the notions of disability, nondiscrimination, and intersectionality. This article analyses selected emerging key issues, including the principle of reasonable accommodation and the intersectionality of disability and gender. A specific focus will be on the emerging jurisprudence of the responsible treaty body, the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. While some of the aspects discussed may appear to primarily arise under a disability-specific perspective, it is suggested that they could potentially provide an impetus to advance the UN human rights system in general, beyond the context of disability.


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