Monday, October 3, 2016


Disability, Universal and Human Rights in the Global Context

Julie Ann Racino, October 2016

            In 2016, I sought to catch up with our Canadian colleagues and found Marcia Rioux, now of York University, and then of the Canadian Association for Community Living at work on human rights in Pakistan and India. Her book chapters include new contributions in Coercive Care: Rights, Law and Policy, Inclusive Education Across Cultures, and as co-editor of a reader titled: Critical Perspectives on Human Rights and Disability Law. By the titles, one might surmise that all has not been well in Canada, and indeed the North American continent as expected by students of history of disability throughout the ages.

            The context of two books (See, on Inclusive Education) and their analyses stem in part from a review of international treaties and nation-state agreements in conjunction with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN ENABLE, 2006). These critical documents include:
* the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948),
* International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights,
* UN Convention on the Rights of the Child,
* The Inter-American Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination,
* International Conventionon Economic, Social and Culural Rights,
* Principles for the Protection of Persons with Mental Illness and for the Improvement of Mental Health Care,
* African Commission on Human and People's Rights,
* European Committee for Prevention of Torture and Inhumane and Degrading Treatment of Punishment,
* World Programme of Action Concerning Pesons with Disabilities,
* Standard Rules of Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities,
* European Convention of Human Rights, and
* Convention on Eliminating All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, among others (e.g., World Bank Tribunals, Bulgarian Helsinki Committee,University of Chile Legal Programme on Disability).

           The books are known as Public Administration and the Law books and are involved with "jurisprudence" (e.g., legal capacity, consent to treatment, civil codes- "100 article changes", critical court cases, guardianship; legal concepts such as bodily integrity and reasonable accommodations) versus PA's "governance" (the frameworks of the treaties and their organization's within the governmental and societal sectors). The books are relevant to at least 650 million persons with disabilities worldwide, their families, friends and those involved in cities and communities. On the latter, excellent chapters are offerred the reader on:
*Inclusion, social inclusion and participation
*Involuntary treatment, human dignity and human rights
*Disabled women's sexual, reproductive and parenting rights
*Reasonable accommodation and substantive equality for persons with disabilities
*Rights of disabled prisoners in the UK
*Legal protections in Kenya for persons with disabilities
*Standards Rules of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities and the role of training, support services and auxiliary resources, among others.
These books bear resemblance to the 1970s Mental and Physical Disability Law Reporter magazine which dealt with similar cases and laws (e.g., "egregious human rights violations" such as psychosurgery). Throughout the books, the authors give insight into the "moment by moment" debates, for example, arguing that a person cannot be punished for a future action that they will "presumably do", arguing against newer laws (e.g., 1994) with mandatory psychiatric treatment in Columbia, against equation of disability with incapacity, and the changes from the former "best interest" and "substitute decisionmaking" standards due to "sluggish development" even of leading courts (e.g., European Courts of Human Rights).

     This author thanks Marcia Rioux and her colleagues for their contributions on updating areas such as sexual and reproductive rights to the 21st Century context, respect for individual autonomy of the latter half of the 20th Century, for warning that the courts are using the concepts of therapeutic treatment (provider-determined concept, e.g., "Snakepits to cash cows) to allow egregious human rights violations, describing the view of "children apprehended" (police and workers) and removed from a "deaf mother", on the changing views of equality of opportunity and related models ("allowing people with disabilities to be players"), genetic markers and the new selective abortion, and surprisingly on discussions in academia so longstanding that they are termed: RED (redistribution discourse), MUD, moral underclass discourse, and SID, social integrationist discourse.

This author recommends we often start where we began:

"Everyone has the right to respect for "his" private and family life, his home and his correspondence."
(Article 8.1 European Convention on Human Rights)

Right to reproductive health, including family planning and maternal health services, and Right to marry and found a family in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948).

Persons with disabilities should not be denied the opportunity to experience their sexuality, have sexual relationships and experience parenthood. (UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, 2006)

International rights to access public transport in Chile (see, also Steven E. Brown's chapter in new book, Public Administration and Disability at

The premise underlying equality of opportunity is that everyone regardless of race, gender, disability, or other relevant personal characteristics, should have an equal opportunity and access to participate and exercise politial, social, economic and cultural rights.  (compared to equal treatment)

However, one must always recall in courts and law that:
Aristotle: "treating equals equally and unequals unequally" undergirds the peer concept and structures in disability and education fields.

And that the depth of work in these fields and cases influences all people in the US and multinationally (e.g., National Councils on Disabilty as multisectoral organizations, and involvement with Ministries of Education, Labour and Social Provision, Women and Family, Housing, Transport and Planning, Finance and Economics, and Foreign Relations per Marie Soledad Cisternos).

McSherry, B. & Freckelton, I. (2013). Coercive Care: Rights, Law and Policy. London and New York: Routledge.

Racino, J.A. (2015). Public Administration and Disability: Community Services Administration in the US. London: CRC Press, Francis and Taylor.

Rioux, M., Basser, L.A., & Jones, M. (2011). Critical Perspectives on Human Rights and Disability Law. Leiden & Boston: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers.


No comments:

Post a Comment