Centre for Studies on Inclusive Education

supporting inclusion, challenging exclusion

CSIE involvement in drafting of UN Convention

Two representatives of CSIE contributed, between 2004 and 2006, to the negotiations of the Ad Hoc Committee responsible for the drafting of Article 24 (Education) of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Extensive discussions took place in New York and online leading up to the adoption of the Convention in December 2006, reported by CSIE as follows:

Text from report, 2006

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was adopted by the UN General Assembly in New York on December 13, 2006. The right to inclusive education as an entitlement for all disabled learners is enshrined in Education Article 24.

The Education Article (formerly Article 17) had been considerably revised and strengthened during the negotiations by an Ad Hoc Committee which began five years ago. Choice of segregated 'special' schooling was removed from the Convention at an earlier stage and at the eighth and final negotiating session of the Ad Hoc Committee on 14--25 August, 2006, efforts continued into the last few days to remove other text which could justify segregation of disabled learners.

After protracted negotiations, 'the goal of full inclusion' was eventually agreed and new wording for paragraph 2(d) of Article 24 was adopted without objection. At the final count nearly sixty state delegations and the International Disability Caucus which represents around 70 non-governments organisations supported an amendment proposed by Panama which obliged governments to ensure that:

'effective individualised support measures are provided in environments that maximise academic and social development, consistent with the goal of full inclusion'.

Text which made provision of individualised support subject to 'circumstances where the general education system cannot adequately meet' met the same fate as choice of segregated 'special' education before it and was removed.

Following adoption by the UN General Assembly, the Convention is due to open for signing and ratification by all UN member states in March 2007, with 20 ratifications needed for it to enter into force, hopefully as speedily as possible.

The Disability Convention is the first human rights treaty of the 21st century and is widely recognised as having unprecedented participation by civil society, particularly organisations of disabled people. The strengthening of Education Article 24 to oblige governments to 'ensure an inclusive education system at all levels' represents a positive outcome for CSIE, British Council of Disabled People, Alliance for Inclusive Education, Children's Rights Alliance for England, Inclusion International and others who made their views known at the UN.

Other main elements of Education Article 24 include:

  • No exclusion from the general education system on the basis of disability
  • Access for disabled students to inclusive education in their local communities
  • Reasonable accommodation of the individual's requirements
  • Required support within the general education system to facilitate effective education, including effective individualised support measures.

(end of text from 2006)

Further information

The Ad Hoc Committee and Working Group has more information on its composition and activities.

For more information on the Convention, including text of Convention and Optional Protocol and up-to-date information on signatories and ratifications, please visit: https://www.un.org/development/desa/disabilities/.

For more information on CSIE’s contribution to the negotiations, please see:

Note: some of the documents on this page are in PDF format. In order to view a PDF you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader

Page last updated: Friday 29 March 2019

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