Inclusion is a human right – around the world

The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) was adopted at the end of 2006 by the United Nations General Assembly and took effect in 2008. But what is the situation like after seven years? What countries are implementing inclusion, which is requested in the CRPD and anchored as a human right and in what form? Here is an overview.


Graphic: People with disabilities around a globe

Approximately one billion people in the world live with a disability; ©

Whether it’s Afghanistan, Brazil or Senegal – currently 159 countries around the world avowed themselves to the UN Convention. Just like Germany, all of these countries have committed to also implement it by signing the CRPD.

Leading a self-determined life

Article 19 of the CRPD addresses "Iindependent living and being included in the community". According to the article, persons with disabilities should be able to freely choose their place of residence, where they live and have access to a range of in-home, residential and other community support services such as personal assistance for instance. They are also entitled to an equal right to live in the community.

Around the world, many organizations and initiatives take this article with its principles of self-determination as the motive for their activities. In December of 2014 for instance, the "i-Living – Independent Living Organization of Greece" was founded in Greece. Aside from aspects like accessibility, the organization‘s future work also intends to focus on personal assistance, which is currently not yet implemented in Greece. At the start of 2015, the so-called ILNET Project started in Turkey, which intends to promote the right of leading a self-determined life for people with disabilities in the country.

The topic of personal assistance is also on top of Italy’s agenda. After the ratification of the CRPD in 2009, an action plan was introduced in 2013. It was however implemented very differently in the individual regions of the country. In 2015, the Ministry of Social Affairs plans to introduce uniform guidelines and is going to support this project financially with 3.2 million Euros.
Photo: Three students in class, one of them in a wheelchair

Also an unrestricted and appropriate access to education is demanded in the UN Convention; © Media Ltd.

Access to education

Article 24 of the CRPD involves education. The province of New Brunswick in Canada is deemed an exemplar of inclusive education of children with and without disabilities. Sweden also ranks high when it comes to educational inclusion. In countries like Belgium, Latvia or Switzerland, implementation still leaves a lot to be desired.

To support children with typically war-caused physical disabilities in Palestine, the American Maysoon Zayid founded Maysoon’s Kids Class. "I wanted to give children in Palestine the opportunity my parents gave me," she explains in an interview at Seven students are being instructed at the moment and Zayid hopes to be able to integrate two of the students into the public school system in the fall of 2015. 90 percent of children with disabilities in developing countries do not receive an education.

Making auxiliary means available

Approximately one billion people in the world live with a disability. That’s about 15 percent of the world‘s population. This makes them the world‘s largest minority group; 80 percent of them live in developing countries.

In Senegal for example, people with disabilities generally are fairly well integrated into family structures. "Yet depending on the family and surroundings, disabled family members might be hidden or even sent to beg on the street," knows Buki Akomolafe. "Especially in rural communities, people are more hidden away. They make no money and are therefore a burden on their families. The family is also often embarrassed in front of the neighbors."

Akomolafe has observed this – among other things - thanks to her commitment to Rollis für Afrika e.V. (English: Wheelchairs for Africa). The association ships discarded wheelchairs and walkers from Germany to Africa to provide disabled people with at least a certain amount of basic medical equipment. After all, the right to have access to mobility aids and assistive technologies is also anchored in Article 20 of the CRPD titled "Personal Mobility". The government of Senegal has already avowed itself to the UN Convention and its implementation in 2010.

Inclusion per the UN Convention

Whether it’s education, accessibility or mobility – the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has drafted measures and guidelines for all kinds of areas of life, which provide the countries of this world with a comprehensive guide. Now it is up to them to make sure people with disabilities are able to live equal and self-determined lives in an inclusive world in the future.
Photo: Nadine Lormis; Copyright: B. Frommann

© B. Frommann

Nadine Lormis
(translated by Elena O'Meara)