The International Disability Alliance - the CRPD in practice; progress made and work still to do

From the International Disability Alliance (IDA).

Throughout the past 15 years, since the adoption of the CRPD, States Parties have made advancements to protect the rights of persons with disabilities.

The Convention continues to provide a roadmap for States Parties in the formulation of legislation, strategies, policies and programmes that promote equality, inclusion and empowerment of persons with disabilities. Additionally, the United Nations, together with Member States, Organisations of People with Disabilities and other stakeholders, have also been mainstreaming the rights of persons with disabilities in development and human rights frameworks.

This treaty has resulted in the shifting of norms for the better. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the World Humanitarian Summit, and the New Urban Agenda all reflect these new norms. National laws, like Peru’s law prohibiting guardianship, represent this vanguard.

However, government responses to the Covid-19 pandemic showed us that we have not come as far as we may have thought. Murky decisions about “quality of life” in determinations of rationed lifesaving healthcare; draconian stay-at-home measures prohibiting access to services; and the virus’ death toll of persons living in institutions show that here is still a gap between reality and the stated purpose of the Convention of full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities.

Where do we go from here? The future remains full of hope. We take the gains of these new norms, and keep pushing ahead. At national and local levels, will keep advocating for the right to effectively and fully participate in political and public life on an equal basis with others, saying “nothing about us without us.” Internationally, we will keep raising our voices in new arenas, like the newly-formed disability constituency joining international policy arenas on Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change.

These last two years have revealed the price of progress on paper without progress in practice. We must remain vigilant, and interrogate the application and implementation of the newly-formulated legislation, strategies and policies. Enforcing laws is a very different business from writing them. And it is in the enforcement of laws that our rights are protected.

So, 15 years after the adoption of the Convention, we can mark vast progress, but the work has just begun.

Bethany Brown, International Disability Alliance