Online Program

What a difference a ratification makes: The UN convention on the rights of persons with disabilities and its political and policy impact

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Ursula Naue, Department of Political Science, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria
Background: In 2008, Austria ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Since then, persons with intellectual disabilities (Austria: persons with learning disabilities) argue that they do not only have the expertise to participate in policymaking processes, but also have to be involved in policymaking (Art 4/3 CRPD).

Aim/Objective: To demonstrate (by focusing on persons with intellectual disabilities) that international policy documents – even if they are not completely transposed into national legal framework – have a concrete impact on policy formulation and the self-empowerment of persons concerned.

Method: Case study approach, four years (still ongoing) participant observation, qualitative interviews/informal conversations with stakeholders/persons concerned, policy document analysis, media analysis. Research question: What are the triggers for the evident and recent self-empowerment process of persons with intellectual disabilities?

Results: The CRPD functions as a political, legal, social, but also emotional basis for formulating socio-political claims. In the context of Austria's political will to implement the CRPD (National Action Plan 2012-2020), persons with intellectual disabilities explicitly claim the right to be included and to participate in society on an equal basis with others (Art 1 CRPD).

Conclusion: Human rights might be understood by some practitioners and scholars as non-implementable policy tools, but the Austrian case shows that respective policy documents have a concrete impact on self-empowerment and on claiming to be an equal part of society.

Learning Areas:

Diversity and culture
Ethics, professional and legal requirements
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related public policy
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Analyze the impact of an international human rights policy document on the national level. Assess the impact of the CRPD on the lives of persons with disabilities.

Keyword(s): Disability Policy, Human Rights

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a political scientist by training and I am a member of the Austrian Independent Monitoring Committee for the Implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (alternate member in the first term of office, member in the second term of office). Also, I am an alternate member of the monitoring group for the implementation of the Austrian National Action Plan on Disability 2012-2020.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.