The EU in the Negotiation of the UN Disability Convention

The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) is a novel and ambitious human rights treaty which entered into force in 2008. This article focuses on two features of particular relevance to the European Union. The first is its strikingly ‘experimentalist’ architecture (to use the term coined by Charles Sabel and Jonathan Zeitlin), and the second is the fact that this was the first occasion on which the European Community, as it then was, participated in the drafting and signing of an international human rights treaty.   The article examines the role played by the EC in the negotiation process and considers whether the EU significantly influenced the Convention’s experimentalist character. It concludes that, while the EU was overall an active and supportive participant in the drafting process, the Convention’s experimentalist character was driven by other factors, in particular by the central role of NGOs and other non-state actors in the negotiation process. The EU, on the other hand, strove mainly to promote the adoption of its own internal model of disability discrimination at the international level.