Human Rights Around The World
Disability Rights Promotion International
Disability Rights Promotion International (DRPI) is a collaborative human rights project that aims to establish an international monitoring system to address disability
Monitoring activities will provide information on the human rights situation of the at least 600 million people around the world who have some form of disability. A human rights approach to disability emphasizes how societal structures and policies create barriers to the full participation and equality of people with disabilities. These barriers touch many aspects of life, such as access to education and employment as well as rights to vote,
marry and have a family, and to participate in culture and recreation. Social exclusion increases vulnerability to abuse, poverty and other forms of discrimination. Human rights laws prohibit discrimination and promote rights and freedoms that support the dignity of all human beings.
Until recently, disability was viewed as an individual or family problem, as a matter for "charity." However, the approach to disability is shifting to emphasize that people with disabilities are entitled to equal enjoyment of their human rights.
At the international level, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights has recently confirmed that inequality and discrimination related to disability are human rights violations and that governments are responsible for protecting and promoting the human rights of people with disabilities. Efforts are underway to create a new international human rights treaty specifically addressing the rights of people with disabilities.
Disability organizations from around the world are participating in the UN meetings to generate broad-based international support for a new treaty and to prepare a draft. (See
http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/enable/rights/adhoccom.htm for more information on the process to develop a disability rights treaty.)
DRPI plans to build on this current transition to a human rights approach to disability. Monitoring the human rights situation of people with disabilities will provide information to promote greater awareness of disability discrimination, to inform advocacy for equal rights, and to assist governments in implementing inclusive laws and policies.
DRPI emerged from the recommendations of an international seminar on human rights and disability convened by Dr. Bengt Lindqvist, UN Special Rapporteur on Disability, in November, 2000 (see "Let the World Know: Report of a Seminar on Human Rights and Disability" at http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/enable/stockholmnov2000.htm). Twenty-seven international experts in disability, law and human rights elaborated guidelines for capacity building and for disability rights monitoring in five areas: individual cases; legal cases; legislation; government programmes, services and practices; and media representations of people with disabilities.
With reference to international human rights standards, DRPI aims to monitor human rights violations in each of these five areas to document, for example, the experiences of individuals, the handling of legal cases in court systems, laws that protect or
limit equal rights, government programs and services that discriminate, and media practices that expose or fuel myths and stereotypes about people with disabilities.
To establish an international disability rights monitoring system, DRPI will work with national disability organizations and human rights groups to develop the infrastructure necessary for monitoring. In 2002, DRPI undertook background research to inform the implementation of a monitoring system. The research results, which will soon be published, identify opportunities for promoting disability rights within the international human rights system, effective human rights monitoring tools and methodologies, and useful training resources.
DRPI's continuing work will encourage partnerships and collaboration with disability organizations and with human rights organizations. The extensive knowledge of these many
organizations will inform training and monitoring activities. The current phase of the DRPI project will facilitate the development of disability rights monitoring tools and training materials. These resources will then be field tested in six to eight pilot monitoring
sites in different regions of the world. Monitors will interview people with disabilities and gather information about experiences of discrimination.
It is clear that the protection of the human rights of people with disabilities is an immediate and crucial concern of individuals, governments, organizations, the private sector and international bodies worldwide. Increasing the participation of people with
disabilities in their societies benefits everyone. This project aims to take a major step in that direction.
DRPI is an international project, based at York University in Toronto, Canada. The project is directed by Dr. Bengt Lindqvist, UN Special Rapporteur on Disability 1994-2002, and Dr. Marcia Rioux, Professor and Chair of the School of Health Policy at York University and Graduate Director of the Master of Arts (Critical Disability Studies). DRPI is also guided by an international advisory committee composed of leading experts in disability rights, human rights, legal advocacy and education, and other relevant areas.
Disability Rights Promotion International
York University, 214 York Lanes
4700 Keele St.
Toronto, ON M3J 1P3
Tel.: (416) 736-2100, ext. 20718
Website : http://www.yorku.ca/drpi
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