Opinion: The UN Convention On The Rights Of Persons With Disabilities Is Useless

Updated: Jul 17


The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities projects disabled Canadians? Think again, writes Paul Caune.


By Paul Caune

Executive Director, Civil Rights Now!

March 2nd, 2021

The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities (CRPD) can't protect disabled Canadians. Why?

Because there is no way to enforce it. A right without a remedy is no right at all. There is no way in the real world to make the CRPD enforceable in Canada.


"There is no way in the real world to make the CRPD enforceable in Canada"

The CRPD is an international treaty which Canada ratified in 2010 on the day before the start of the Winter Paralympics in Vancouver. For the sake of argument let’s pretend that I have a secretly taken video of the Chair of VCH telling her Board that West Vancouver will elect a NDP MLA before VCH complies with the CRPD. And let’s pretend that this video has been posted on YouTube and viewed 34,657,832 times. Surely the embarrassment would force VCH to comply with the CRPD? Nope. If an employee or executive of VCH is convicted of violating the Criminal Code, he or she can be fined and/or put into prison. In certain circumstances class action suits can be brought against VCH, and if it loses, it can be forced by a judge to pay damages. But if VCH violates any part of the CRPD there is no legal body within Canada that citizens harmed by the violation can use to force VCH to comply with the convention. BC’s Health Authorities are unlikely to declare that they will not comply with the CRPD. What they will do, if need be, is unleash their lawyers, who will assert that their clients only appear to be in violation of the CRPD. Or the Health Authorities’ lawyers will assert that the CRPD is only a guideline, that the CRPD is not mandatory.


"If you do not have a practical way to enforce your rights, you do not have them"

If you do not have a practical way to enforce your rights, you do not have them. There is no practical way for any citizen to force any public or private entity in Canada to be in compliance with the CRPD.

If you think an international treaty, such as the CRPD, which gives the most likely violator of it the discretion whether to comply with it, will protect vulnerable Canadian citizens—you're wrong. Let's not waste anybody's time by any more talk about the CRPD.


Paul Caune is a civil rights activist and executive director of Civil Rights Now!. He was a recipient of the 2014 Courage To Come Back Award.