Disability, Right Monitoring and Social Change: Building Power out of Evidence

By Haley, Dr Tobin LeBlanc | Canadian Review of Social Policy, Fall 2016 | Go to article overview

Disability, Right Monitoring and Social Change: Building Power out of Evidence


Haley, Dr Tobin LeBlanc, Canadian Review of Social Policy


Disability, right monitoring and social change: Building power out of evidence Edited by Marcia H. Rioux, Paula C. Pinto and Gillian Parekh, Canadian Scholars' Press, 2015. ISBN: 9781551307411

Disability, Rights Monitoring and Social Change: Building Power out of Evidence (2015) is both a study in best practices for disability rights monitoring and an act of rights monitoring in itself. The backdrop of this volume is the adoption of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) in 2006 and the consequent monitoring requirements for the now 165 state parties/ Specifically, all state parties are required to gather information to facilitate compliance with the CRPD, provide reports to the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities about their efforts to comply with the CRPD, and to include people with disabilities and disabled persons organizations (DPOs) in these monitoring processes.

In her introduction, Marcia Rioux asserts that participation in knowledge production is fundamental to social justice, drawing links between who is able to fully exercise their rights and participate in society and how disability is conceptualized and addressed. In the context of rights monitoring, participatory monitoring, such as that done by Disability Rights Promotion International (DRPI), breaks down traditional researcher-researched and north-south dichotomies by engaging in a process of data gathering and analysis about systemic and individual discrimination experienced by people with disabilities. At the fore of this holistic approach are people with disabilities as researchers. The eighteen chapters that follow Rioux's introduction consider rights monitoring processes and associated challenges in countries or regions on all five continents, with many chapters also recording the situations of people with disabilities on the ground.

The volume is divided into four sections. Section one considers different approaches to and challenges that arise with disability rights monitoring, including an evaluation of concurrent and consecutive multinational monitoring approaches through the case study of the European Union (Chapter 1, Lawson and Priestly) and the successes of, and challenges faced by, the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in its first working period (Chapter 3, Reyes). Of special note are the chapters by Lauro L. Purcil Jr. and Annie Bunting. Purcil Jr. (Chapter 2) examines the preparation of an alternative report for the Human Rights Council and the International Committee to the CRPD by the Philippine Coalition on the CRPD. The Coalition recognized the need for people with disabilities to be involved in monitoring the state's budget processes to ensure that appropriate funding is allocated to effect proposed policy changes. The importance of monitoring funding in a time when economic arguments are used to deny social change (Introduction, Rioux) is a key insight for all people seeking to effect change at the level of the state. Bunting (Chapter 3) examines issues of gender equality and violence, speaking primarily of her monitoring work in African countries. While not primarily about disability, of central importance to the volume is her contention that countries without substantial financial resources, and the NGOs operating in these countries, may not be able to effectively engage in the monitoring processes. This raises important questions about who has access to the knowledge production that Rioux asserts is central to social justice generally, and disability rights specifically.

The second section of the volume explores the establishment of new methods of rights monitoring. First is a discussion of the DRPI holistic model applied to questions of independent living and community inclusion in the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec (Chapter 5, Dinca-Panaitescu). Second is a discussion of the emerging role of Human Rights Legal Clinics in Latin America in supporting the disability rights movement by monitoring violations, advocating for appropriate reforms, litigating, providing education and aiding activists in self-advocacy (Chapter 6, Natalia Angel-Cabo). …

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