Chapter Seven: Creating national institutions to implement and monitor the Convention – Focal points

Implementing the Convention does not only require appropriate legislation and policies; it also requires financial resources and institutions that have the capacity to both implement and monitor those laws and policies. Indeed, article 33 of the Convention requires States parties to establish specific mechanisms to strengthen implementation and monitoring of the rights of women, men and children with disabilities at the national level. The Convention requires States to:

  • Designate a focal point or focal points within government for implementation; 
  • Consider establishing or designating a coordination mechanism within government to facilitate related action in different sectors and at different levels; and
  • Establish an independent framework, such as a national human rights institution, to promote and monitor implementation of the Convention.

The Convention stipulates that civil society, particularly persons with disabilities and their representative organizations, should participate fully in all aspects of this monitoring process, just as they are to be involved in the development and implementation of policies, programmes and legislation to implement the Convention.

Meanwhile, national courts and tribunals will play a key role in ensuring that the rights enumerated in the Convention are protected under the law.



The key to the Convention’s success will, of course, be effective implementation…The Convention itself is quite specific with regard to the actions that need to be taken by Governments to implement it.

Ambassador Don MacKay, Chairman of the Ad Hoc Drafting Committee (New Zealand)




While the Convention requires States parties to designate one or more focal points within government to address matters relating to implementation and to consider establishing a coordination mechanism within government, the Convention does not prescribe either the form or the function of these entities. However, since some other international instruments, including the World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons and the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities, have also called for the establishment of similar entities, many countries have already established or designated disability focal points or coordinating mechanisms.

Focal points could be a section or a person within a ministry or cluster of ministries, an institution, such as a disability commission, or a particular ministry, such as a ministry for human rights or a ministry for persons with disabilities, or a combination of the three. Even if these bodies or mechanisms already exist, they will need to be revised to oversee the implementation of the Convention and to coordinate efforts among various sectors at the local, regional and national/federal level. 

Whatever its designated form, the focal point should not act in isolation, but play a leading role in coordinating the implementation of the Convention. It should be equipped with adequate human and financial resources; be established through legislative, administrative or other legal measures; be permanently appointed; and be located at the highest possible level of government.




  • Advise the Head of State/Government, policymakers and programme planners on the development of policies, legislation, programmes and projects with respect to their impact on people with disabilities;
  • Coordinate the activities of various ministries and departments on human rights and disability;
  • Coordinate activities on human rights and disability at federal, national, regional, state, provincial and local levels of government;
  • Revise strategies and policies to ensure that the rights of persons with disabilities are respected;
  • Draft, revise or amend relevant legislation;
  • Raise awareness about the Convention and Optional Protocol within the Government;
  • Ensure that the Convention and Optional Protocol are translated into local languages and issued in accessible formats;
  • Establish an action plan for ratification of the Convention;
  • Establish an action plan for implementation of the Convention;
  • Monitor the implementation of the action plan on human rights and disabilities;
  • Coordinate the preparation of the State’s periodic reports;
  • Raise awareness on disability-related issues and the rights of persons with disabilities among the public;
  • Build capacity within the Government on disability-related issues;
  • Ensure and coordinate the collection of data and statistics for effective policy programming and evaluation of implementation;
  • Ensure that persons with disabilities participate in the development of policies and laws that affect them;
  • Encourage persons with disabilities to participate in organizations and civil society, and encourage the creation of organizations of persons with disabilities.