CRPD Committee Adopts New General Comment on Equality and Non-Discrimination
The Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities released its advance unedited version of the General Comment No. 6 on Equality and Non-Discrimination on 9 March 2018. The Committee’s position closely charts the principal suggestions made by the Oxford Human Rights Hub on the draft General Comment published last year.
The General Comment’s most significant contribution is its elucidation of what is meant by substantive equality for persons with disabilities. The Committee has adopted Sandra Fredman’s four dimensional model of transformative equality as the framework for ‘inclusive equality’ which includes: ‘(a) a fair redistributive dimension to address socio-economic disadvantages; (b) a recognition dimension to combat stigma, stereotyping, prejudice and violence and to recognize the dignity of human beings and their intersectionality; (c) a participative dimension to reaffirm the social nature of people as members of social groups and the full recognition of humanity through inclusion in society; and (d) an accommodating dimension to make space for difference as a matter of human dignity.’ 
The suggestion of a clearer definition of intersectional discrimination has also been adopted in line with the OHRH proposal to define intersectional discrimination as discrimination in any form ‘on the basis of disability, combined with’ other grounds , instead of the definition proposed at paragraph 20(e) of the Draft General Comment which defined intersectional discrimination as taking place ‘on several prohibited grounds or statuses’. Our reason for suggesting the operative word ‘combined’ was to convey that the nature of intersectional discrimination based on two or more grounds is always synergistic and inseparable [pp. 11-12, OHRH Submission]. The Committee has adopted this explanation , which is a significant advance from its position in the Draft General Comment.
Finally, the OHRH Report also recommended a clarification in respect of reasonable accommodation such that the reasonableness of a measure is considered effective from the perspective of persons with disabilities [p. 15, OHRH Submission]. The Committee has provided an unequivocal statement in this regard stating that ‘An accommodation is reasonable, therefore, if it achieves the purpose (or purposes) for which it is being made and is tailored to meet the requirements of the person with a disability’ [25(a)].
General Comment No. 6 which is 19 pages long is a comprehensive exposition on equality and non-discrimination in the field of human rights law. Its scope is extensive in that it not only addresses issues of equality for persons with disabilities under the CRPD, but also develops the normative content of concepts like substantive equality, direct and indirect discrimination, intersectional discrimination, and reasonable accommodation as applicable to human rights law in general. The General Comment marks a high point in the evolution of international law jurisprudence on equality and non-discrimination and will be influential for decades to come.