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"Let the World Know"

Report of a Seminar on Human Rights and Disability
Almåsa Conference Centre (Stockholm, November 5-9, 2000)

Published by the Office of the Special Rapporteur on Disability
of the United Nations Commission for Social Development © 2001


Preface and Acknowledgements *

I Introduction *

II Background to the Seminar *

III Timing of the Seminar: An Opportune Moment *

IV Purpose of the International Seminar: From Rhetoric to Reality *

V Organization of the Seminar *

VI General Directions for Mainstreaming the Human Right of Persons with Disabilities *

VII Developing an Overall Structure for Reporting Violations of the Human Rights of Persons with Disabilities *

VIII Understanding What Amounts to an Infringement of Human Rights *

IX Building a System for Dealing with Infringements of Human Rights *

X Making it work: Developing Instruments for Documenting Infringements of Human Rights: The Five Working Groups Report *

  1. Documenting Individual Cases *
  2. Documenting Legal Cases/Jurisprudence *
  3. Documenting the Media *
  4. Documenting legislation *
  5. Documenting Programmes, Services and Practices *

XI. Additional General Recommendations to Strengthen the Use of International Instruments on Human Rights of Persons with Disabilities

XII Concluding Remarks: From little acorns great oaks grow *

ANNEX A: List of Participants (including observers, and support staff)

V. Organization of the Seminar

The seminar used as its starting point for its work, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the United Nations Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities. Recognition also was given to the six main binding human rights instruments: the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment; the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination; the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women; and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The mode of operation of the seminar was to provide as much time as possible for discussion, thereby precluding the presentation of papers during the actual seminar. However, seven pre-conference papers were prepared and sent in advance to participants. The papers represent an important part of the background for the discussions.*

To enable the Seminar participants to develop guidelines for collecting information that would give real effect to human right instruments, the work was organized around the following approaches to documentation.

  • documenting individual reports of infringements,
  • documenting of legal cases/jurisprudence,
  • documenting of media,
  • documenting of policy, services and practices,
  • documenting of legislation.

Further to developing guidelines within each approach for the information to be collected criteria and methodology were proposed for the collection of the information including:

  • setting guidelines for the practical frameworks for reporting, and how to ensure that the information is systematic when collected;
  • determining how the collection of information could happen following the expert seminar; and
  • providing guidance on how to use the data and its interpretation most effectively, taking into account that there are a number of different audiences for the results of the seminar.

The diversity of knowledge and expertise of the participants in both methodology and content related to infringements of human rights provided a cross-fertilization of ideas. It was agreed by participants that the guidelines had to be on the one hand coherent, consistent, reliable and valid and on the other hand concrete, practical, straightforward, and educative. Effective monitoring and advocacy to enforce international human rights covenants ultimately depends on action at the local and national level by persons with disabilities and their allies. In most countries of the world, advocacy organizations are limited by a lack of recognition, funding, and political support.

It was also clear that whatever was developed had to be understandable and useable by those in the disability community worldwide and by the human rights and legal communities. Whatever guidelines were designed also had to be a bridge between the knowledge bases and the two communities of interests.

There was not time within the framework of the seminar to consider how the various approaches and different suggestions for structures and procedures could be coordinated and developed into one entity. This report, however, does attempt to synthesize the five perspectives and, hopefully, provides a coherence that enables further refinement and field-testing of the instruments and the proposed directions.

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