The UK is a signatory to this convention, however the UK has not incorporated it into domestic legislation and there is no appeal to the UN for any potential breaches.  So at the moment, compliance with the UNCRPD is a future intention, that has no date for when or if, it will ever be fully implemented.

The UK currently has relatively good human rights and disability legislation and so will be complying with much of the intent behind this convention.

However, one of the key issues that the UNCRPD states is that all decision making should be supported.  That means that a person just needs more time or further explanation of the issue, so that they can make their own decision, that other people should not be making decisions for them.  This can be tricky and lawyers have asked the question – how can this happen for a person in a coma?

Like many pieces of legislation, they are as imperfect as the drafting committee and their understanding, as well as the time that it was written.  500 years ago, there was no legislation about “upskirting” (taking photos up someone’s skirt), because there were no cameras!  But society and technology changes all the time and legislation needs to progress with it.

So the UN has brought in this legislation and how they drafted this convention is to expect countries to create domestic legislation that will enact what is said in the convention, which often can be very general.  So for example there is a clause about women and children, that they will be harder hit by disability, because they are not the most privileged sections of society and as such, their lives are likely to be more difficult just because of their age or gender and then adding disability becomes a double whammy.  So the government is supposed to ensure that there are extra or special provisions on place to ensure that they are protected.

We are as yet waiting to see how the legislators intend to enact this convention that all people, including disabled people will always be their own decision makers, which will have a big social impact on how disabled people are treated, as they are often treated paternalistically and decisions made for them.

For anyone caring for a person with dementia, this is a good thing to hold at the back of your mind, that people with dementia need support to make their own decisions, and not to have decisions made for them, particularly if they are risk averse and paternalistic and nothing like the kind of decision that that person would make.  Be kind, be empowering.