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New APF manual on human rights and disability

Graphic: NHRI consultation with people with disabilities, Malaysia

The manual includes practical suggestions and case studies to support the work of NHRIs to promote and protect the rights of persons with disabilities

Asia Pacific Forum LogoAsia Pacific Forum

Hundreds of millions of people in the Asia Pacific region have a disability. Many live in poverty and suffer prejudice, discrimination and exclusion.

People with disabilities are routinely denied opportunities for work and education and they commonly face barriers accessing places and services others in the community take for granted.

Too often, they are victims of violence, sexual abuse, forced sterilisation and institutionalisation.

In 2008, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities came into force. While the Convention doesn't create "new" rights for people with disabilities, it does reflect, endorse and embed a major shift in how they are to be included in the community.

The APF's latest publication – Human Rights and Disability: A Manual for National Human Rights Institutions – notes that "in the past, people with disabilities were seen as 'objects' to be managed or cared for.

"Thanks to the human rights framing of disability, persons with disabilities are now seen as full and equal human 'subjects' who enjoy all the rights and privileges of other citizens."

The challenge for national human rights institutions (NHRIs) is to make the rights set out in the Convention a reality in the day-to-day lives of people with disabilities.

NHRIs also have a very important role – set out in article 33 of the Convention – to promote, protect and monitor the rights of people with disabilities, in partnership with disabled peoples' organisations.


Gathering stories and insights of people with disabilities, Samoa

"Because of their unique role and position, NHRIs can be key agents to bring about positive change in their countries for persons with disabilities. Through their work, NHRIs help 'translate' the majestic generalities of international law into a practical agenda for reform at home, where it matters most."


The APF manual is designed to provide guidance for NHRIs that are actively working to advance the human rights of persons with disabilities, as well as those NHRIs seeking to strengthen their efforts in this area.

It includes practical suggestions about the ways in which NHRIs can better promote and protect the rights of persons with disabilities, as well as monitor the progress made and the obstacles encountered in advancing their rights.

Building genuine partnerships with people with disabilities and their representative organisations is a key theme of the Manual.

It includes numerous case studies from NHRIs around the globe who have worked with people with disabilities to address systemic barriers.

It also describes the ways in which NHRIs can engage with the international human rights system to highlight pressing issues facing people with disabilities and to build the momentum for genuine reform.

The manual was written by Professor Gerard Quinn and Abigail Rekas (National University of Ireland, Galway) and Neil Crowther, an independent expert on equality and human rights.

Date: 3 April 2017


Cover of APF manual

The APF manual will form part of a blended learning course on human rights and disability for staff and Commissioners of NHRIs in the Asia Pacific region.


Image credits

  1. NHRI consultation with people with disabilities, Malaysia - Human Rights Commission of Malaysia
  2. Gathering stories and insights of people with disabilities, Samoa - Office of the Ombudsman of Samoa
  3. Cover of APF manual - APF