The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the European Convention on Human Rights: a tale of two halves or a potentially unified vision of human rights?

Andrea Broderick*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The traditional dichotomy of rights between civil and political rights, on the one hand, and economic, social and cultural rights, on the other hand, has been increasingly eroded in scholarly and judicial discourse. The interdependence of the two sets of rights is a fundamental tenet of international human rights law. Nowhere is this interdependence more evident than in the context of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD or UN Convention). This article examines the indivisibility and interdependence of rights in the CRPD and, specifically, the positive obligations imposed on States Parties to the UN Convention, in particular the reasonable accommodation duty. The aim of the paper is to analyse, from a disability perspective, the approach adopted by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR or 'Strasbourg Court') in developing the social dimension of certain civil and political rights in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), namely Articles 2 and 3 (on the right to life and the prohibition on torture, inhuman and degrading treatment, respectively), Article 8 (on the right to private and family life) and Article 14 ECHR (on non-discrimination). Ultimately, this paper examines the influence of the CRPD on the interpretation by the Strasbourg Court of the rights of persons with disabilities under the ECHR. It argues that, while the Court is building some bridges to the CRPD, the incremental and often fragmented approach adopted by the Court could be moulded into a more principled approach, guided by the CRPD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)199-224
Number of pages26
JournalCambridge International Law Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018


  • CRPD
  • ECHR
  • disability
  • equality
  • indivisibility
  • interdependence
  • positive obligations

Cite this