Commission for Social Development
12-22 February 2002
Item 3 (b) of the provisional agenda*
Follow-up to the World Summit for Social Development and
the twenty-fourth special session of the General Assembly:
review of relevant United Nations plans and programmes of
action pertaining to the situation of social groups
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 on his third mandate, 2000-2002
Note by the Secretary-General
- The Mandate
- Activities during the period of the third mandate
- Issues for the future
- Summary and Recommendations
- At its forty-eighth session, the General Assembly adopted the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities, contained in the annex to its resolution 48/96 of 20 December 1993.1 These 22 Rules provide a framework to further implement the goals of “equality” and “full participation” of disabled persons in social life and development set forth in the World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons, adopted by the General Assembly in its resolution 37/52 of 3 December 1982.2
- In section IV, paragraph 2, of the Standard Rules, it is stipulated that the Rules shall be monitored within the framework of the sessions of the Commission for Social Development. The appointment of a Special Rapporteur to monitor their implementation within the framework of the Commission for Social Development was also envisaged in that paragraph.
- In March 1994, the Secretary-General appointed Bengt Lindqvist (Sweden) as Special Rapporteur on Disability of the Commission for Social Development. The Special Rapporteur prepared a report for the consideration of the Commission for Social Development at its thirty-fourth session in 1995.3 On the basis of that report and the findings of a working group established during the Commission, the Commission adopted resolution 34/2 entitled “Monitoring the implementation of the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities”.4 In that resolution, the Commission took note with appreciation of the report of the Special Rapporteur and of his recommendations and welcomed his general approach to monitoring, including the emphasis to be placed on advice and support to States in the implementation of the Rules.
- At its thirty-fifth session in 1997, the Commission for Social Development considered the report of the Special Rapporteur on monitoring the implementation of the Standard Rules for the period from 1994 to 1996.5The Commission took note with appreciation of the valuable work done by the Special Rapporteur, decided to renew his mandate for a further three years and requested the Special Rapporteur to prepare a report for submission to the Commission at its thirty-eighth session in 2000.6
- At its thirty-eighth session in 2000, the Commission for Social Development considered the report of the Special Rapporteur on monitoring the implementation of the Standard Rules for the period from 1997 to 2000.7 The Commission took note with appreciation of the valuable work done by the Special Rapporteur, decided to renew his mandate for a further period through the year 2002 and requested the Special Rapporteur to prepare a report for submission to the Commission at its fortieth session in 2002 in which he should, inter alia, present his views on further developing the proposals contained in his report on his second mission8 and on forms for complementing and developing the Standard Rules.9
- In section IV, paragraph 12 of the Rules, it is further stipulated that at its session following the end of the Special Rapporteur’s mandate, the Commission should examine the possibility of either renewing that mandate, appointing a new Special Rapporteur or considering another monitoring mechanism, and should make appropriate recommendations to the Economic and Social Council. The present mandate of the Special Rapporteur will come to an end in 2002. The Commission is requested to make its recommendations in that regard to the Economic and Social Council and the General Assembly.
- The Secretary-General has the honour to transmit to the Commission the report of the Special Rapporteur on monitoring the implementation of the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities during the period 2000-2002.
- The Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities.
- A/37/351/Add.1 and Add.1/Corr.1, sect VIII.
- A/50/374, annex.
- Official Records of the Economic and Social Council, 1995, Supplement No. 4 (E/1995/24), chap. I, sect. E.
- A/52/56, annex.
- Official Records of the Economic and Social Council, 1997, Supplement No. 6 (E/1997/26), chap. I, sect. A, subsequently adopted as Economic and Social Council resolution 1997/19 of 21 July1997.
- E/CN.5/2000/3, annex.
- Official Records of the Economic and Social Council, 2000, Supplement No. 6 (E/2000/26), chap. I, sect. A, subsequently adopted as Economic and Social Council resolution 2000/10 of 27 July 2000.
In all societies of the world there are still obstacles preventing persons with disabilities from exercising their rights and freedoms and making it difficult for them to participate fully in the activities of their societies.
General Assembly resolution 48/96 of 20 December 1993, annex paragraph 15)
- In my capacity as Special Rapporteur for monitoring of the implementation of the Standard Rules on Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities, I have the honour to deliver my final report on the third period of monitoring (2000-2002) to the Commission for Social Development. It has been a privilege and a stimulating task to act as Special Rapporteur in this area. I want to express my sincere appreciation to the Economic and Social Council for showing confidence in me by renewing my mandate for a third period. I also would like to thank all those Governments that have contributed financially to this project, including the Government of Sweden, which has provided me with office resources throughout the entire exercise.
- From the beginning and during the whole period of monitoring, I have enjoyed full support from the Under-Secretary-General of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Nitin Desai, and excellent professional advice from the Division for Social Policy and Development. I have benefited from the cooperation of a number of United Nations agencies, especially the World Health Organization (WHO), which in close collaboration with me has conducted a global survey on the implementation of a number of the Standard Rules. I would also like to express my appreciation for the excellent work performed by Eva Sagström in my Swedish office and by Anneli Joneken, who worked as a consultant concerning the supplement to the Standard Rules.
- One key element in this monitoring exercise has been the panel of experts, established in 1994 by six major international non-governmental organizations in the disability field. The panel members, five men and five women representing all regions and with different experiences of disability, have provided valuable guidance. They have also been very understanding when limited resources have made it impossible to pursue all good ideas and initiatives.
- Finally, I want to thank all those Governments and non-governmental organizations that have cooperated with me during my missions and who have provided information for my work.
- My report to the Commission for Social Development (E/CN.5/2000/3, annex) at its thirty-eighth session contained a number of recommendations for future action. Suggestions were made about a future monitoring system, areas to be developed in the present text version of the Standard Rules document, improved information exchange and the future development of the issue of human rights and disability.
- These topics were discussed within the open-ended working group during the Commission meeting. The outcome of the Commission deliberations are reflected in Economic and Social Council resolution 2000/10 of 27 July 2000. According to paragraph 7 of that resolution regarding the tasks to be carried out by the Special Rapporteur in the renewed, third mandate, the Council decided to renew the mandate of the Special Rapporteur for a further period through the year 2002 so that the results of his continued promotion and monitoring of the implementation of the Standard Rules, in accordance with section IV of the Standard Rules, would be available to the fourth quinquennial review and appraisal of the World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons,1 in accordance with General Assembly resolution 52/82, and to request the Special Rapporteur, assisted by the United Nations Secretariat and in consultation with his panel of experts, to prepare a report for submission to the Commission for Social Development at its fortieth session, in which he should, inter alia, present his views on further developing the proposals contained in his report on his second mission (E/CN.5/2000/3, annex) and on forms for complementing and developing the Standard Rules, and on how to enhance the involvement of the relevant bodies and organizations of the United Nations system and relevant intergovernmental regional organizations regarding the implementation of the Standard Rules.
- The resolution contains a number of specific tasks for the Special Rapporteur to carry out during the term of his third mandate:
- Promote and monitor the implementation of the Standard Rules, in accordance with section IV of the Rules. The work during this third period should mainly continue along the lines indicated in the Standard Rules document, which meant continuing to go on advisory and monitoring missions to countries, participate in conferences and seminars promoting the implementation of the Rules, and collect information on the further policy development in countries and regions;
- Present his views on forms for complementing and developing the Standard Rules. In the report on my second mandate (E/CN.5/2000/3, annex) I pointed out a number of dimensions that should be developed and strengthened in the light of experiences gained since the adoption of the Standard Rules in 1993 (annex to General Assembly resolution 48/96 of 20 December 1993). My interpretation of this instruction was that I should develop new texts on the basis of my observations in the report and suggest forms for their treatment and possible adoption by the Commission;
- Present his views on how to involve the relevant bodies and organizations of the United Nations system and relevant intergovernmental regional organizations regarding the implementation of the Standard Rules. In my previous reports to the Commission I pointed out the need for improved and more systematic information exchange and joint planning in the disability field among United Nations organizations and agencies. The obvious vehicle for this would be the re-establishment of an inter-agency mechanism. However, with regard to financial constraints, in the present report I have presented a simple mechanism for information exchange through the use of modern information and communication technologies, particularly Internet-based technologies;
- Present his views on further developing the proposals contained in his report on his second mandate. In addition to the three areas mentioned above, my report to the Commission at its thirty-eighth session considered a number of options for a future monitoring mechanism. The present report reviews this subject. In that report, I also made an analysis and some observations concerning the issue of human rights and disability. I continue that analysis below.
- Beginning early in 2000, I continued to promote the implementation of the Standard Rules by visiting countries on the invitation of Governments. In accordance with my mandate I concentrated my missions in countries in transition and those in developing regions. Visits to discuss and promote disability policy were made to Belarus, Bulgaria, China, Malawi, Mauritania and Uganda.
- During these visits, meetings were organized with ministers, representatives of ministries, organizations and often international organizations, such as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). National policies, programmes and legislation were presented and discussed from a Standard Rules perspective. One common issue was how to integrate disability measures into general plans and programmes. Other frequently discussed subjects included the collection of data on living conditions and disability statistics and how to develop cooperation between the Government and organizations in the disability field.
- I was invited to deliver speeches and lectures at a number of conferences. I visited Brazil for the XIX Rehabilitation International World Congress (Rio de Janeiro, 25-29 August 2000). In Canada, I participated in the Sixth International Congress on Including Children with Disabilities in the Community (Edmonton, Alberta, 22-24 October 2000), which attracted three hundred participants from over 50 nations and a number of non-governmental organizations. In Hungary, I took part in a seminar on the implementation of the Standard Rules with participants from 14 countries from Eastern and Central Europe (Budapest, 11-13 October 2000). In the Russian Federation, a national conference on equal opportunities for the disabled (Moscow, 2-3 October 2000) was organized jointly by the Duma (parliament), concerned government offices and disability organizations, with participants from 60 of the 89 regions in the Russian Federation. The conference considered, among other topics, the application of the Standard Rules principles in a regional setting. During my mission to Mauritania, from 13-15 February 2001, I had the opportunity to participate in a subregional seminar on the implementation of the Standard Rules in which 60 delegates participated, representing governmental and non-governmental organizations from several Maghreb countries.
- In February and April 2001 I participated in and chaired two consultations on disability and human rights, organized by the United Nations Secretariat in New York (9 February 2001) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva (17 April 2001).
B. Panel of experts
- The panel of experts, established in 1994 by six major international non-governmental disability organizations as part of the monitoring mechanism, met in New York from 9 to 11 February 2000. The meeting coincided with the thirty-eighth session of the Commission for Social Development, which made it possible for panel members to follow the deliberations of the Commission. One important issue discussed by the panel was the future options for United Nations involvement in disability policy development. The panel emphasized the importance of developing the human rights dimension and of obtaining greater involvement in this issue by the United Nations human rights monitoring bodies. At the same time, disability should remain an important commitment in the field of social development. In both of these areas the Standard Rules should continue to be a main tool for policy development.
- The panel met again in New York from 4 to 6 September 2001. The main purpose of that meeting was to consult with me as Special Rapporteur on the issues to be brought before the fortieth session of the Commission for Social Development in February 2002.
- I had prepared an extensive text presenting a considerable number of additions and changes to the text of the Standard Rules. Based on our interpretation of the mandate in this respect, we agreed on the contents of what should be put forward to the Commission. However, it was left to me as Special Rapporteur to find the most suitable ways to present the recommendations to the Commission for its consideration.
- The panel also discussed at length options for future monitoring. Two main alternatives were identified: (a) appointment of a new Rapporteur and (b) integration of the monitoring mechanism into the United Nations Secretariat. The discussion took place under the assumption that it would be difficult to find funding for continuing the monitoring with a new Rapporteur. The main discussion therefore was about ways of integrating the different functions of the monitoring mechanism into the work of the United Nations Secretariat.
- The panel of experts attached to the Standard Rules monitoring mechanism represents a unique form for cooperation between the non-governmental community and the United Nations. During the seven years it has served as a consultative body in this monitoring exercise, it has proved to be very useful for both the United Nations and the organizations concerned. The panel has also been involved in consultations with other international organizations and such agencies as the World Health Organization, the International Labour Organization (ILO), the World Bank and UNESCO. In connection with the global surveys, the more than 600 national affiliates of the six organizations represented on the panel were invited to reply to the same questionnaires as those submitted to their Governments. These national disability organizations also greatly contributed to the unusually high response rates from Governments.
C. Rights for disabled children
- In January 2000 four international non-governmental disability organizations together with Save the Children International Alliance decided to establish a project entitled “Rights for disabled children”. Funding was received for a three-year period from the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida). The Rights for Disabled Children project entered into an agreement with Disability Awareness in Action (a non-governmental organization) in the United Kingdom to coordinate and administer project activities.
- The purpose of the project is to assist the Committee on the Rights of the Child, which monitors the Convention on the Rights of the Child, in developing the disability dimension of its monitoring.
- Among the activities run by the Rights for Disabled Children project the following can be specifically mentioned:
- Three times per year, nine Governments are requested by the Committee to report on their achievements. The project decided to analyse these reports by Governments from a disability perspective and to present the results at “pre-sessional” meetings before the Committee session. The three rounds of 2001 were completed, which means that 27 country reports were analysed from a disability perspective, and the findings presented to the Committee. The Rights for Disabled Children project reports were well received. The information collected in this way will later on constitute an interesting body of material for analysis concerning the ways in which States deal with disability within the framework of the Convention on the Rights of the Child;
- Another important Rights for Disabled Children project activity is to conduct in-depth studies in four selected countries. The purpose is to study the situation of children with disabilities, to collect information about violations of the rights of disabled children and to identify and describe good examples. In the second half of 2001 the first study was initiated in South Africa.
- The project is trying to increase the visibility of children with disabilities, both in the documents related to the planned special session of the General Assembly on children and at the actual meeting. The Rights for Disabled Children project has issued a special report on the situation of disabled children, entitled “It is our world, too”, which includes cartoons, pictures and quotations by disabled children.
D. Third survey on selected Standard Rules in collaboration with the World Health Organization
- The first four Rules in the Standard Rules document state the preconditions for the equal participation of persons with disabilities. Three of these Rules – Rules 2-4, comprising medical care, rehabilitation and support services respectively – are within the mandate of the World Health Organization.
- In 1999, WHO conducted a global survey to collect information about these three areas as well as selected information on personnel training (Rule 19). In cooperation with me and the panel of experts, a questionnaire was constructed and circulated to all 189 WHO member States, two associate member States and more than 600 national non-governmental organizations in the field of disability.
- In my report to the thirty-eighth session of the Commission for Social Development (E/CN.5/2000/3, annex), I included a summary of the main results of replies received from the 104 Governments responding to the questionnaire. The final report, The UN Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities: Government Responses to the Implementation of the Rules on Medical Care, Rehabilitation, Support Services and Personnel Training, is now available from the World Health Organization.2 Six regional reports (Africa – AFRO, Americas – AMRO, Eastern Mediterranean – EMRO, Europe – EURO, South East Asia – SEARO and Western Pacific – WPRO) based on the same set of data are also available from WHO.3
- The geographical distribution of government replies to the questionnaire is as follows: 27 from AFRO, 17 from AMRO, 4 from SEARO, 25 from EURO, 11 from EMRO and 20 from WPRO.
- Similar reports are under preparation based on the replies received from 115 non-governmental organizations. The total number of countries covered by the responses from Governments or non-governmental organizations is 130.
- The distribution of responses from non-governmental organizations by region is as follows: 22 NGO responses from AFRO; 21 from AMRO; 6 from SEARO; 42 from EURO; 10 from EMRO; and 14 from WPRO.
- WHO will also conduct a complementary study to compare and interpret the differences between the governmental and NGO responses in each country.
- The result of the WHO survey on the selected Standard Rules can be used in several ways. It will first of all provide information concerning the degree of implementation of the various provisions in the four different Rules. The most useful comparative analysis is probably the one based on regions, since this would provide a more similar social, economic and cultural context. Replies from the Government and NGOs in the same country can often provide valuable information on the situation of persons with disabilities.