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The Optional Protocol to the UN Disabilities Convention

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol were adopted at the United Nations Headquarters in New York on 13 December 2006, and entered into force internationally on 3 May 2008.

Following ratification of the Convention on 17 July 2008, the Australian Government conducted a National Interest Analysis (NIA) in order to make an informed decision on whether or not to become party to its Optional Protocol.

The NIA proposing Australia become party to the Protocol was tabled in Parliament on 3 December 2008 (the International Day of Persons with Disabilities), you can access the copy from AustLII. It assessed whether becoming party to the Optional Protocol is in the national interest by analysing the impact the Protocol is likely to have on Australia and Australians living with a disability. The NIA examined:

  • the obligations imposed by the Optional Protocol
  • what, if anything, will need to be done to implement the Optional Protocol
  • the likely financial cost, if any, of implementing the Optional Protocol, and
  • foreseeable economic, environmental, social and cultural effects of implementing the Optional Protocol.

The NIA incorporated the results of public consultation, as well as consultations with State and Territory Governments. The consultation on whether or not to become party to the Optional Protocol was open to the public until 24 October 2008. 

The NIA was then considered by the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties. That Committee reported on 12 March 2009 (Report 99, Chapter 2) recommending that Australia become a party to the Optional Protocol. See Committee Report 95, Chapter 2, for the Committee's recommendations regarding the Convention.

Following the recommendations of the Committee, Australia acceded to the Optional Protocol on 21 August 2009. The Optional Protocol came into force for Australia on 20 September 2009.

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