Conference hosted by Centre for Human Rights highlights challenges regarding the rights of persons with disabilities in Africa

Posted on November 07, 2013

She noted that there are many challenges that inhibit the implementation of the CRPD in African countries. These include conflict, political instability, rapid population growth and limited governmental capacity to give effect to the rights of persons with disabilities. Political will and the strengthening of both formal and non-formal institutions are key to overcoming these challenges.

McClain-Nhlapo identified three triggers that may contribute to the more effective implementation of the CRPD. First, there should be enforcement mechanisms at the national level to ensure follow-up of favourable decisions; second, data about actual implementation should be collected, which indicates a need for research that goes beyond the textual analysis of the CRPD; and third, there is a need for increased and equitable spending to enable the implementation of the CRPD.

Speakers from as far afield as Germany and the United Kingdom, and from across Africa, addressed four main topics: disability and awareness-raising; education and disability; equal recognition before the law; and access to justice for persons with disabilities. The effect of the CRPD in Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Zambia, Uganda, South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya was reviewed and discussed. Some of these countries, such as Kenya and Uganda, have adopted legislation to domesticate the CRPD.  In others, for example Nigeria, such attempts have been floundering.

Access to education for learners with disabilities was one of the themes that were discussed by delegates. More specifically, inclusive education and the impact of the CRPD came under the spotlight. There was consensus that inclusive education is a human right that has yet to be effectively implemented on the ground. Disabled learners are still an excluded minority.

This conference was hosted by the Centre for Human Rights at the University of Pretoria and benefited from the support of the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA).  For a full programme, visit the website http://www1.chr.up.ac.za/index.php/disability-rights-in-africa/conference-programme.html.

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