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Korea Reviews Its Progress and Limitations in Ensuring the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

  • Date : 2019-04-30
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Korea Reviews Its Progress and Limitations in Ensuring the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

- Publication of the Combined Second and Third Periodic Report under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (5.1) -

The UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is a human rights convention of the United Nations to protect the rights of persons with disabilities across all spheres of life. The Convention has been acceded to and ratified by 177 countries worldwide (January 2019). In Korea, the Convention entered into force in January 2019 after ratification by the National Assembly in December 2008.

□ The Ministry of Health and Welfare (Minister Neunghoo Park) published the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (including the Optional Protocol) and the Combined Second and Third Periodic Report of the Republic of Korea under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. These two documents will be made public on the Ministry’s website ( www.mohw.go.kr → Information → Programs) on May 1.

* To promote their accessibility and availability for visually-impaired individuals, the said documents will be published in braille and disseminated across libraries for persons with disabilities (~Jun. 2019).

ㅇ Article 35 of the Convention requires each State Party to submit the first Periodic Report on its implementation status within two years after the entry into force of the Convention (2009 for Korea). Afterwards, the second and subsequent Periodic Reports must be submitted every 4 years.

* Korea submitted its initial Periodic Report to the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2011. However, due to delay in the Committee’s review schedule, the First Periodic Report was reviewed in 2014, and it was decided that the Second and Third Reports would be combined for a review.

ㅇ In line with this, the Republic of Korea submitted its Combined Second and Third Periodic Report to the UN on March 8 after undertaking the meetings of relevant ministries (Nov. 2018), open discussions (Dec. 2018), the review of the Policy Coordination Committee for Persons with Disabilities (Chair: Prime Minister) (Jan. 2019), and the collection of feedback from the National Human Rights Commission of Korea (Feb. 2019).

ㅇ The UN’s review of the said Periodic Report is likely to be scheduled for January 2020. Until this time, relevant sectors of government will form a delegation to the UN and make thorough preparations, including documentation of changed situations and policy improvements.

□ The Combined Periodic Report describes the following as major achievements: ▴Gradual abolition of the disability classification system (enforced in Jul. 2019); ▴Establishment of legal grounds for welfare service provision for mental patients, which was enabled by wholly amending and enforcing the Act on the Improvement of Mental Health and the Support for Welfare Services for Mental Patients (May 2017); and ▴Introduction of mandatory BF(Barrier-Free) Certification for newly constructed public buildings (Jan. 2015).

ㅇ In addition, the Report conveys the Korean government’s positive willingness to ratify the Optional Protocol*, improve the adult guardianship system**, and withdraw reservation on Article 25(e) (Prohibition of Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities in the Provision of Life Insurance)***, which have been identified as areas that need strengthening.

* The Optional Protocol mostly describes the procedures for settling claims from individuals or groups of individuals, and the ex officio investigation rights of the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Among 177 countries that have acceded to and ratified the Convention, 94 have acceded to and ratified the Optional Protocol. (Korea has not ratified the Optional Protocol as it needs to make institutional preparations and consider various circumstances.)

** Korea amended the Civil Act and abolished the quasi-incompetency and incompetency system, which was criticized for uniformly restricting the legal capacity of persons with disabilities. Instead, the adult guardianship system has been adopted (2013). Later, problems arising from operating this system have been identified, and improvement measures have been considered to fully respect and support the decision making of persons with disabilities.

*** At the time of ratification of the Convention, Article 732 of the Commercial Act entirely prohibited mentally disabled persons from subscribing to life insurance. For this reason, Korea has maintained reservation on the pertinent provision of the Convention. However, as Article 732 of the Commercial Act has been amended (to permit subscription to life insurance by mentally disabled persons with decision-making capacity), Korea will positively consider the withdrawal of reservation.

□ Mr. Hyunjun Kim, Director-General for the Bureau of Policy for Persons with Disabilities said, “The publication of the Combined Second and Third Periodic Report of the Republic of Korea under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities offered a good opportunity to take stock of Korea’s progress and limitations in policies for persons with disabilities.”

ㅇ He added, “The government will continue to examine how inclusive and considerate Korean society is toward persons with disabilities as we pr

Korea Reviews Its Progress and Limitations in Ensuring the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

- Publication of the Combined Second and Third Periodic Report under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (5.1) -

□ The Ministry of Health and Welfare (Minister Neunghoo Park) published the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (including the Optional Protocol) and the Combined Second and Third Periodic Report of the Republic of Korea under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. These two documents will be made public on the Ministry’s website ( www.mohw.go.kr → Information → Programs) on May 1.

* To promote their accessibility and availability for visually-impaired individuals, the said documents will be published in braille and disseminated across libraries for persons with disabilities (~Jun. 2019).

ㅇ Article 35 of the Convention requires each State Party to submit the first Periodic Report on its implementation status within two years after the entry into force of the Convention (2009 for Korea). Afterwards, the second and subsequent Periodic Reports must be submitted every 4 years.

* Korea submitted its initial Periodic Report to the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2011. However, due to delay in the Committee’s review schedule, the First Periodic Report was reviewed in 2014, and it was decided that the Second and Third Reports would be combined for a review.

ㅇ In line with this, the Republic of Korea submitted its Combined Second and Third Periodic Report to the UN on March 8 after undertaking the meetings of relevant ministries (Nov. 2018), open discussions (Dec. 2018), the review of the Policy Coordination Committee for Persons with Disabilities (Chair: Prime Minister) (Jan. 2019), and the collection of feedback from the National Human Rights Commission of Korea (Feb. 2019).

ㅇ The UN’s review of the said Periodic Report is likely to be scheduled for January 2020. Until this time, relevant sectors of government will form a delegation to the UN and make thorough preparations, including documentation of changed situations and policy improvements.

□ The Combined Periodic Report describes the following as major achievements: ▴Gradual abolition of the disability classification system (enforced in Jul. 2019); ▴Establishment of legal grounds for welfare service provision for mental patients, which was enabled by wholly amending and enforcing the Act on the Improvement of Mental Health and the Support for Welfare Services for Mental Patients (May 2017); and ▴Introduction of mandatory BF(Barrier-Free) Certification for newly constructed public buildings (Jan. 2015).

ㅇ In addition, the Report conveys the Korean government’s positive willingness to ratify the Optional Protocol*, improve the adult guardianship system**, and withdraw reservation on Article 25(e) (Prohibition of Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities in the Provision of Life Insurance)***, which have been identified as areas that need strengthening.

* The Optional Protocol mostly describes the procedures for settling claims from individuals or groups of individuals, and the ex officio investigation rights of the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Among 177 countries that have acceded to and ratified the Convention, 94 have acceded to and ratified the Optional Protocol. (Korea has not ratified the Optional Protocol as it needs to make institutional preparations and consider various circumstances.)

** Korea amended the Civil Act and abolished the quasi-incompetency and incompetency system, which was criticized for uniformly restricting the legal capacity of persons with disabilities. Instead, the adult guardianship system has been adopted (2013). Later, problems arising from operating this system have been identified, and improvement measures have been considered to fully respect and support the decision making of persons with disabilities.

*** At the time of ratification of the Convention, Article 732 of the Commercial Act entirely prohibited mentally disabled persons from subscribing to life insurance. For this reason, Korea has maintained reservation on the pertinent provision of the Convention. However, as Article 732 of the Commercial Act has been amended (to permit subscription to life insurance by mentally disabled persons with decision-making capacity), Korea will positively consider the withdrawal of reservation.

□ Mr. Hyunjun Kim, Director-General for the Bureau of Policy for Persons with Disabilities said, “The publication of the Combined Second and Third Periodic Report of the Republic of Korea under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities offered a good opportunity to take stock of Korea’s progress and limitations in policies for persons with disabilities.”

ㅇ He added, “The government will continue to examine how inclusive and considerate Korean society is toward persons with disabilities as we prepare for the UN’s review of the Combined Periodic Report.”

<Reference> Overview of the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities & the Major Contents of the Periodic Report.

<Annex> 1. (Korean Version) The Combined Second and Third Periodic Report under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
2. (English Version) The Combined Second and Third Periodic Report under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

epare for the UN’s review of the Combined Periodic Report.”

<Reference> Overview of the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities & the Major Contents of the Periodic Report.

<Annex> 1. (Korean Version) The Combined Second and Third Periodic Report under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
2. (English Version) The Combined Second and Third Periodic Report under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

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