Final report of the Special Rapporteur of the
Final report of the Special Rapporteur of the Commission for Social Development on monitoring the implementation of the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities
A. Human rights and disability
In section IV, paragraph 7, of the Standard Rules, the specialized agencies and other United Nations entities are requested to cooperate with the Special Rapporteur in implementing the Rules. The following have responded positively to that request and have taken special initiatives in connection with the monitoring of the Rules.
Since the publication in 1992 of the report by Special Rapporteur Leandro Despouy, entitled Human Rights and Disabled Persons, several activities have been initiated, including the following:
(a) In paragraph 22 of its Vienna Declaration and Program of Action the World Conference on Human Rights, held at Vienna in 1994, stated that
"Special attention needs to be paid to ensuring non-discrimination, and the equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by disabled persons, including their active participation in all aspects of society";
(b) The Subcommission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities, in paragraph 1 of its resolution 1995/17 of 18 August 1995, requested the Secretary-General to report in 1996 to the Subcommission regarding coordination endeavours that affect persons with disabilities, with emphasis on activities of the other United Nations organizations and bodies that deal with alleged violations of human rights;
(c) In May 1996 the following three Committees reported activities in the field of human rights and disability: Committee on the Rights of the Child; Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; and Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women;
(d) In all these areas the analysis concerning the protection of the human rights of persons with disabilities has been started. Of particular interest is General Comment No. 5 (1994), issued by the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. In its analysis the Committee also related the situation of disabled persons to the general trends of development and discussed necessary means for the protection of the rights of persons with disabilities;
(e) Finally, the Commission on Human Rights, in paragraph 5 of its resolution 1996/27 of 19 April 1996, entitled "Human Rights of persons with disabilities", urged all Governments to implement, with the cooperation and assistance of organizations, the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities.
The Standard Rules draw attention to the importance of statistical data on the living conditions of persons with disabilities and to the fact that the collection of such data should be undertaken at regular intervals as part of the official statistical system of countries.
The work is concentrated on three main issues:
(a) Together with States and other participants, improve the methodology for the collection of data by standardizing concepts of disability and establishing new and more effective procedures for the collection of data;
(b) Compile existing data into a database (Distat);
(c) Cooperate with the growing numbers of users of data on disability, such as planning agencies, research institutes and non-governmental organizations.
The headquarters of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) took an active role in disseminating copies of the Standard Rules in English and other languages to over 150 UNICEF regional and country offices. In addition to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the UNICEF policy paper on children in need of special protection measures, UNICEF officials have also used the Standard Rules in their promotion of human rights and improved conditions for the children of the world.
As the Special Rapporteur, in consultation with the panel of experts, had decided to study employment policies as one of six selected Rule areas, and as it was considered important to bring up the issue of employment in the final report of the monitoring, the International Labour Organization (ILO) offered to make available data on the monitoring of ILO Convention No. 159, ratified by 56 countries. The material contains Government reports and communication between Governments and ILO experts concerning the practical application of the various articles of the Convention. For the Special Rapporteur's analysis, six articles in the Convention were selected, which all have corresponding sections in Rule 7 on employment. For a summary of the results, see section V.D in the present report. In addition, beginning in 1997, ILO will carry out a general survey of the law and practice of Member States that have ratified Convention No. 159. The results of this extensive survey will be presented to the International Labour Conference in 1998.
Since 1980, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has collected information on practice in special education. The latest review, published in 1995, concerns 1993-1994. A great deal of the collected information is highly relevant to the monitoring of Rule 6 on education. According to UNESCO, that study is to be seen as a UNESCO contribution to the monitoring of the Standard Rules.
Moreover, UNESCO carried out a study on legislation pertaining to special needs education. The information, provided by 52 countries, was compiled in 1994 and published in 1996.
In 1994 UNESCO organized the World Conference on Special Needs Education at Salamanca, Spain. More than 90 countries were represented. The Conference adopted the Salamanca Statement and Framework for Action, which builds on and develops the guidelines in Rule 6 of the Standard Rules.
In 1995 the issue of special needs education was on the agenda of the UNESCO Conference. The Special Rapporteur had the opportunity to address the Conference in his official capacity. In his statement he emphasized the importance of implementing the guidelines presented in the Standard Rules and the Salamanca Statement, which are in harmony with each other in all essential areas.
As a World Health Organization (WHO) contribution to the monitoring of the Standard Rules, the Special Rapporteur and the members of the panel of experts from developing countries were invited to participate in the meeting of WHO regional advisers for rehabilitation, which took place at Geneva in January 1996. The role of WHO in the implementation of the Standard Rules was discussed. Among the recommendations made at the meeting were the following:
(a) WHO should promote the general spirit and direction regarding human rights as stated in the Standard Rules, taking responsibility for monitoring rules 2 and 3 and, partially, rule 4;
(b) WHO should promote a multi-sectoral approach to the analysis of the disability situation in developing countries so that appropriate national policies to guide programme planning can be developed;
(c) WHO should promote the inclusion of organizations of persons with disabilities in the development, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of country-based resources programmes;
(d) Collaboration at the national, regional and international levels should be increased to intensify the fight for and to end discrimination against, persons with disabilities;
(e) A media campaign about disability issues and the Standard Rules should be promoted with the collaboration of various public sectors, non-governmental organizations and organizations of persons with disabilities.