For the first time, the European Communities have signed a human-rights charter, the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. But, in a last-minute move, the Commission refrained from signing an additional Protocol establishing a complaints procedure, which some member states consider too far-reaching.
Shortly before signing the Convention on 30 March 2007, the Commission, representing the European Communities, stepped back from its initial plan to sign the Conventions’s optional protocol, which creates a complaints procedure.
The U-turn came after the UK, Denmark and Poland expressed concerns that the legal implications would be too far-reaching in the employment field, where the European Communities have competences. They feared an EC signature would be equivalent to them being a party, even when they are not.
The Optional protocol creates two procedures:
- An individual complaints procedure: An individual who claims to be victim of a violation of the provisions of the Convention can present a Communication to the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, established by the Convention. After examining the request, the Committee can then forward suggestions and recommendations to the state party.
- An inquiry procedure: In case of grave or systematic violations by a state party, the Committee can conduct an inquiry. The findings are then transmitted to the state party.