Annual debate on the rights of persons with disabilities


14 mars 2022

Assistant Secretary General for Human Rights, Ms. Ilze Brands Kehris

Human Rights Council 49th session

14 March 2022, 16:00 to 18:00 CET


At the outset, allow me to thank the Council for its work to increase the understanding and effective implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Our Office is firmly committed to strengthening the protection of the rights of persons with disabilities, irrespectively of where they live.

We are thankful to Norway and Ghana for hosting, last February, the Global Disability Summit, in which I had the honour to address the issue of community inclusion as a strategy to building back better from the pandemic.

I encourage States to support the agenda of community inclusion, both to provide persons with disabilities with the support they need to be fully part of their communities and to reduce excessive unpaid care work, which disproportionally impacts women and girls and further entrenches gender inequality. 

I also call on States to continue supporting persons with disabilities around the world, and to increase their efforts to find concrete solutions to the many challenges they face. This means giving visibility to disability as a human rights issue.


Today’s annual debate on the rights of persons with disabilities focuses on data collection and statistics under article 31 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

I warmly welcome this focus. Accurate and disaggregated data is a core and indispensable element for effective and equal enjoyment of rights.

Last December, our Office published a report specifically on article 31 of the Convention containing guidance on a human rights-based approach to data for persons with disabilities. The report highlights aspects connected to data collection and the rights to privacy and access to information.

While important progress has been made in the implementation of article 31, much remains to be done.

In particular, it is critical that States increase their efforts to collect and appropriately disaggregate data by disability in censuses and sector-specific surveys. Also, disability-specific surveys need to be conducted to have a granular assessment of barriers to the participation in society affecting persons with disabilities.

Further action is needed to connect human rights obligations and data collection for evidence-based policy implementation. Countries collecting administrative data should systematize such information to increase its effective use. Disability-specific policies, commonly requiring a disability assessment to identify who can access them, should be informed by clear human rights objectives to avoid being used as a tool for limiting the enjoyment of human rights.

In addition, the use of data protection principles can increase human rights compliance of data collection and statistical processes. Persons with disabilities are particularly at risk of discrimination and exclusion based on the misuse of health and rehabilitation data. I encourage States to increase their efforts to uphold the right to privacy, particularly through personal data protection at all stages of collecting, processing and storing data, in order to prevent misuse of sensitive data, including in big data management and use.

Finally, States need to acknowledge the importance of community-driven data collection, particularly in contexts where data systems on persons with disabilities are underdeveloped. Data use and dissemination in accessible formats is key for persons with disabilities to exercise their right to access to information, with the objective of increasing their capacity to contribute to policy design, implementation and monitoring.


At a moment when we are acutely aware of the imperative of protection of civilians during armed conflict, I urge States in their humanitarian efforts to take action to address the specific needs of persons with disabilities in conflict situations. Human rights-based data collection and use and identification of persons with disabilities can increase efficacy and effectiveness of such efforts.

Before concluding, a word on the COVID-19 pandemic. It has affected persons with disabilities in disproportionate ways and its socioeconomic impact has brought us back years. I therefore encourage States to increase their efforts to solidify data and promote further research on the impact of the COVID19 pandemic on persons with disabilities.

I wish you a constructive debate on the rights of persons with disabilities.

Thank you.