Nav: Home

Putting fundamental rights of persons with disabilities on the map

December 02, 2016

Ten years ago this month, the United Nations adopted the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)--a landmark human rights treaty among countries around the world to protect the fundamental rights of all persons with disabilities.

With more than 1 billion people worldwide -- 15 percent of the global population -- living with some form of disability, CRPD has become one of the most rapidly ratified human rights treaties in history. More than 168 countries are now represented.

But have the promises made 10 years ago been kept?

The WORLD Policy Analysis Center at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health produced a far-reaching analysis of countries' efforts, since the adoption of CRPD, to enact and address global rights, laws and policies that affect persons with disabilities.

While progress through the convention and global social movements has occurred, nations still have a long way to go in fulfilling their commitments, the analysis found.

"The United States has strong laws guaranteeing equal rights in education, work, and civic life, which have led to dramatic progress in our lifetime," said Dr. Jody Heymann, founding director of the WORLD Policy Analysis Center and dean of the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. "More recently, the Affordable Care Act significantly reduced barriers to affordable health care for people with disabilities by guaranteeing access to insurance regardless of pre-existing conditions. However, particularly as the ACA and other laws are facing new threats, the importance of a foundation of constitutional equal rights is clear. The U.S. Constitution does not explicitly grant equal rights to persons with disabilities--a critical gap that needs to be addressed."

Only 24 percent of countries in the world have constitutions that specifically prohibit discrimination or guarantee equal rights on the basis of disability.

WORLD examined concrete steps taken by countries to protect the rights of persons with disabilities and reduce inequality. Among the global findings:

Overall Equal Rights

  • Constitutional rights provide a foundation for demanding greater equity and overturning discriminatory laws. Constitutional guarantees of equal rights on the basis of disability have been used to challenge hiring discrimination in Mexico, strengthen political representation of people with disabilities in Uganda, and improve access to health services in Canada.
  • Yet, less than 10 percent of countries' constitutions explicitly guarantee civil rights to persons with disabilities.
Does the constitution guarantee equality and non-discrimination to persons with disabilities?

Education

  • Only 28 percent of countries protect through their constitutions the right to education for children with disabilities.
  • Substantial obstacles to education and meaningful learning opportunities for children with disabilities are common. In low- and middle-income countries, school enrollment rates for children with disabilities are commonly 30 to 50 percentage points lower than their counterparts.
  • Five percent of countries have no provisions for children with disabilities in the public school system and 12 percent only meet their needs in separate schools, some limited to specific types of disability.
Is inclusive education available for children with disabilities?

Work

  • Only 18 percent of countries constitutionally protect the right to work for persons with disabilities.
  • However, employment rights are becoming more common. Of the constitutions adopted in 2010 or later, 58 percent guarantee the right to work for persons with disabilities compared to only 11 percent of those constitutions adopted before 1990.
  • According to preliminary findings for the 25 most populous countries focused on legislative protections against workplace discrimination, 14 broadly protect persons with disabilities from discrimination at work, and eight protect workers with disabilities from indirect discrimination.
Does the constitution guarantee the right to work for adults with disabilities?

Health
  • Only 26 percent of constitutions explicitly guarantee the right to health for persons with disabilities.
  • Access to early intervention services can be critical for children with disabilities, and paid leave policies can provide working parents with the ability to meet their children's health and developmental needs without losing income. Only 11 percent of countries provide paid leave specifically to meet the health needs of children with disabilities.
  • Although guarantees remain uncommon, 63 percent of constitutions adopted in 2010 or later guarantee the right to health for persons with disabilities compared to only 6 percent of those adopted before 1990.
Does the constitution guarantee the right to health for persons with disabilities?

Among countries with constitutions adopted since 2010, 68 percent prohibit discrimination based on disability, while 58 percent guarantee the right to work for adults with disabilities, and 63 percent guarantee the right to education for children with disabilities.

"The WORLD Policy Analysis Center has provided a unique and invaluable resource for anyone interested in disability social justice," said Michael Stein, executive director of the Harvard Law School Project on Disability, who participated in the drafting of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. "The data, which is accessible to all and includes easy to grasp graphics, will be used by rights advocates, policy makers, and researchers, to understand relative progress of laws and policies across the globe."

Heymann summarized the findings, "The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is a promise from our global community to enact and enforce laws that guarantee equality and inclusion. Yet we are far from the world we need -- where every country has ratified the convention and every country that has ratified the convention has guaranteed people with disabilities equal rights, ensured education is fully inclusive, and protected people from discrimination at work."
-end-
The WORLD Policy Analysis Center is the first and largest data center to provide quantitatively analyzable data on policies in all 193 UN member states in a range of critical areas, including education, health, environment, poverty, families, adult labor, marriage, childhood, child labor, equal rights and discrimination, aging, disability, and gender.

The UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, founded in 1961, is dedicated to enhancing the public's health by conducting innovative research, training future leaders and health professionals from diverse backgrounds, translating research into policy and practice, and serving our local communities and the communities of the nation and the world. The school has 650 students from more than 35 nations engaged in carrying out the vision of building healthy futures in greater Los Angeles, California, the nation and the world.

University of California - Los Angeles Health Sciences

Related Public Health Articles:

Public health guidelines aim to lower health risks of cannabis use
Canada's Lower-Risk Cannabis Use Guidelines, released today with the endorsement of key medical and public health organizations, provide 10 science-based recommendations to enable cannabis users to reduce their health risks.
Study clusters health behavior groups to broaden public health interventions
A new study led by a University of Kansas researcher has used national health statistics and identified how to cluster seven health behavior groups based on smoking status, alcohol use, physical activity, physician visits and flu vaccination are associated with mortality.
Public health experts celebrate 30 years of CDC's prevention research solutions for communities with health disparities
It has been 30 years since CDC created the Prevention Research Centers (PRC) Program, currently a network of 26 academic institutions across the US dedicated to moving new discoveries into the communities that need them.
Public health experts support federally mandated smoke-free public housing
In response to a new federal rule mandating smoke-free policies in federally funded public housing authorities, three public health experts applaud the efforts of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development to protect nonsmoking residents from the harmful effects of tobacco exposure.
The Lancet Public Health: UK soft drinks industry levy estimated to have significant health benefits, especially among children
The UK soft drinks industry levy, due to be introduced in April 2018, is estimated to have significant health benefits, especially among children, according to the first study to estimate its health impact, published in The Lancet Public Health.
Social sciences & health innovations: Making health public
The international conference 'Social Sciences & Health Innovations: Making Health Public' is the third event organized as a collaborative endeavor between Maastricht University, the Netherlands, and Tomsk State University, the Russian Federation, with participation from Siberian State Medical University (the Russian Federation).
Columbia Mailman School Awards Public Health Prize to NYC Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T.
Dr. Mary T. Bassett, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, was awarded the Frank A.
Poor health literacy a public health issue
America's poor record on health literacy is a public health issue, but one that can be fixed -- not by logging onto the internet but by increased interaction with your fellow human beings, a Michigan State University researcher argues.
Despite health law's bow to prevention, US public health funding is dropping: AJPH study
Although the language of the Affordable Care Act emphasizes disease prevention -- for example, mandating insurance coverage of clinical preventive services such as mammograms -- funding for public health programs to prevent disease have actually been declining in recent years.
'Chemsex' needs to become a public health priority
Chemsex -- sex under the influence of illegal drugs -- needs to become a public health priority, argue experts in The BMJ this week.

Related Public Health Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Moving Forward
When the life you've built slips out of your grasp, you're often told it's best to move on. But is that true? Instead of forgetting the past, TED speakers describe how we can move forward with it. Guests include writers Nora McInerny and Suleika Jaouad, and human rights advocate Lindy Lou Isonhood.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#527 Honey I CRISPR'd the Kids
This week we're coming to you from Awesome Con in Washington, D.C. There, host Bethany Brookshire led a panel of three amazing guests to talk about the promise and perils of CRISPR, and what happens now that CRISPR babies have (maybe?) been born. Featuring science writer Tina Saey, molecular biologist Anne Simon, and bioethicist Alan Regenberg. A Nobel Prize winner argues banning CRISPR babies won’t work Geneticists push for a 5-year global ban on gene-edited babies A CRISPR spin-off causes unintended typos in DNA News of the first gene-edited babies ignited a firestorm The researcher who created CRISPR twins defends...