UN accuses UK government of causing a human catastrophe

August / September 2017

Following a civil society report, which NSUN participated in, and activists presenting evidence in Geneva, the United Nations has criticised the UK government’s austerity policies very openly for the second time, saying that the consequences for disabled communities amount to a human catastrophe. In 2016, the UN had already published a damning report which the UK government refuted.

In August 2017, representatives of disability organisations such as DPAC have been giving evidence to the UNCRPD in Geneva. Their testimonies were needed for an on-going investigation into welfare cuts amounting to violations of Human Rights.

NSUN contributed to the report submitted by the UK Independent Mechanism (UKIM) ahead of the examination.

Please find a link to the report as follows:

UKIM shadow report (including easy read)

Both the report and testimonies led the UNCRPD to condemn the UK government for its failure to implement the UN disability convention. Given he evidence, the committee   was “deeply concerned” that the UK government still believed it was a “champion of human rights”.

The committee’s chair, Theresia Degener, told the UK government’s delegation that its cuts to social security and other support for disabled people had caused “a human catastrophe”, which was “totally neglecting the vulnerable situation people with disabilities find themselves in”.

This is not the first time that the UN slams the United Kingdom’s government policies. Over two years ago, a the first ever  investigation into breaches in the rights of people with disabilities began, prompted by DPAC contacting the UN.

This led to the UN publishing a first highly critical report and associated recommendations. The UK government did not publicise the report and rejected the UN’s views and recommendations. We informed you about these developments, and the disability activists reaction, in this article.

As soon as we heard about DPAC blowing the whistle on the dangerous consequences of austerity cuts, we started following the developments of the UN inquiry with an interest that led to our involvement in the recent Universal Peer Review and in the UKIM report which was submitted to the UNCRPD in Geneva.

Already heartened by the UN’s first report last year, disability activists who presented in Geneva this week said that the UN’s reaction proves that disabled people and their concerns can no longer be ignored

The UN’s critical reaction to the UK government’s policies this week were reported on by the media and British associations: