Transposing the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Africa: The Role of Disabled People’s Organizations

(August 2019)

Mahomed, F., Lord, L. & Stein, MA. African Journal of International and Comparative Law, 27(3): 335-358.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) was adopted and ratified with unprecedented support from states, including those on the African continent. In large measure this was precipitated by the remarkable work of disabled peoples’ organisations (DPOs). However, CRPD ratification is only the first step in a long process which African states parties must undertake to manifest the treaty’s provisions in the lived experiences of persons with disabilities. This article examines opportune avenues for advocacy by African DPOs to engage with constitutional and statutory reform processes, disability-specific policies and their implementation, strategic litigation and national-level development planning. In doing so, we draw on the rich experiences and best practices already evidenced by many of these civil society organisations in domesticating provisions of the CRPD into legal, social, political, economic and institutional frameworks across Africa. We also examine the CRPD’s intended role for DPOs and consider the manner in which their further empowerment would advance the treaty’s objectives. Finally, we consider the relationship between DPOs and national human rights institutions, and articulate areas for collaboration. We conclude that the experiences of African DPOs in translating the CRPD into meaningful social change can be replicated, thereby more effectively actualising the rights of persons with disabilities on the continent. Read more