Time to be heard: How advocates can use the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to drive change

Harpur, Paul (2011) Time to be heard: How advocates can use the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to drive change. Valparaiso University Law Review, 45 3: 1271-1296.

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Author Harpur, Paul
Title Time to be heard: How advocates can use the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to drive change
Journal name Valparaiso University Law Review   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0042-2363
Publication date 2011
Year available 2011
Sub-type Article (original research)
Volume 45
Issue 3
Start page 1271
End page 1296
Total pages 26
Editor Emily Calwell
Richard Barrett
Place of publication Valparaiso, IN, U.S.A.
Publisher School of Law, Valparaiso University
Collection year 2012
Language eng
Subject C1
180114 Human Rights Law
Formatted abstract
People who use sign language to communicate have argued that they are a linguistic minority and not disabled. Rather than being disabled, people in this group have argued that they simply speak a language different than others, such as Spanish or Russian. Labeling a person as disabled attracts negative historical baggage. For this reason, some scholars have argued for the term of "ableism" to replace the term "disability discrimination." Although these debates are extremely important, it is equally important to utilize all available tools to achieve social inclusion for all people regardless of their different abilities. This Article will demonstrate how one such tool can be used to benefit persons with disabilities. In particular, this Article will analyze how the norms and state acceptance of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities ("CRPD") can be used by non-government organization ("NGO") and disability person organization ("DPO") advocates to drive change in their communities and achieve law reforms where appropriate. Persons with disabilities are the world's largest minority group. Persons with disabilities have historically confronted systematic discrimination. The Preamble to the CRPD explains that the United Nations adopted this Convention based on twenty-five key facts including "the fact that the majority of persons with disabilities live in conditions of poverty, and in this regard recognizing the critical need to address the negative impact of poverty on persons with disabilities." The World Bank estimates that persons with disabilities make up twenty percent of the world's poorest people.

There have been recent international and domestic commitments to improving the human rights of persons with disabilities. In 2006, the United Nations adopted the CRPD and in 2009 the United States ratified this convention. The rights of persons with disabilities have gained national attention as the result of the Obama administration's express commitment to advancing the rights of persons with disabilities. The adoption of the CRPD by the United Nations and its ratification by the United States have substantially shifted the paradigm that guides domestic laws and policies.

Part II of this Article will analyze the paradigm shift inherent in the CRPD. Part II.A analyzes the development of disability policies through the welfare model, to the social model, and finally to the propounding of a human rights agenda. Part II.B then explores how the CRPD has embraced this human rights agenda and how its sweeping human rights agenda can change the lives of persons with disabilities. To emphasize the potential of the rights approach, Part II.C demonstrates what the change means for persons with disabilities exercising their right to work. Part III of this Article then builds upon the sweeping rights agenda to analyze what DPO advocates can do to facilitate the change.

Part III.A considers the role of shadow reports and builds on comments of the current chairman of the international committee monitoring the implementation of the CRPD.

Part III.B analyzes other steps advocates can take to create a climate of change. This Article then focuses on DPO capacity building.
Keyword CRPD
Human Rights
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ
Additional Notes Special Issue: "20th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act".

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2012 Collection
TC Beirne School of Law Publications
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Created: Fri, 21 Oct 2011, 16:44:39 EST by Carmen Buttery on behalf of T.C. Beirne School of Law