Monitoring implementation of the Convention: Practice tips for NHRIs
Graphic: Boy in a wheelchair writing on a blackboard
- Article 33(2) of the Convention establishes a monitoring function that NHRIs are commonly designated to undertake.
- Monitoring provides a ‘reality check’ on progress to promote and protect the rights of people with disabilities.
- NHRIs must involve persons with disabilities as full partners in their monitoring activities.
National human rights institutions (NHRIs) have a vital role to play in helping realise the rights set out in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).
Article 33(2) requires a national approach to implementation and monitoring be established once a State has ratified the Convention. This includes providing a "framework, including one or more independent mechanisms, as appropriate" to "promote, protect and monitor implementation of the present Convention".
Membership of the framework can be wider than just NHRIs. However, the reference to an "independent mechanism" is widely understood as referring to NHRIs.
Monitoring provides a 'reality check'
Promoting the rights of people with disabilities can and should lead to better compliance with international standards. Protecting these rights can provide redress for individuals who have experienced violations, as well as address the systemic failures that affect too many people with disabilities.
Monitoring provides a 'reality check' on the progress to promote and protect the rights of people with disabilities over time.
Monitoring can perform a number of important roles. For example, it can provide the basis for developing an effective national action plan on disability. It can also help to identify human rights risks and violations to guide strategic planning and prioritisation.
Once benchmarks have been set, especially in a national action plan, they can be used to assess progress and identify obstacles to realising the rights of persons with disabilities. This also helps with the regular review and adjustment of priorities.
Monitoring can utilise a range of methodologies with which NHRIs are familiar, including developing evaluating laws and policies; conducting qualitative and quantitative research; undertaking inspections, investigations and inquiries; and conducting public consultations.
NHRIs must involve persons with disabilities or their representative organisations as full partners in their monitoring activities.
As part of its monitoring activities, NHRIs should gather evidence regarding alleged violations or denial of the human rights of persons with disabilities.
Developing indicators and gathering evidence
The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has produced general guidance on human rights monitoring  that identifies three key focus areas: structural indicators (the laws and policies in place), process indicators (how the system actually works) and outcome indicators (how individuals experience their rights on a day-to-day basis).
In gathering evidence in relation to these indicators, OHCHR recommends that monitoring bodies should collect:
- Evidence regarding alleged violations or denial of the human rights of persons with disabilities. For example, this evidence of instances of inhuman or degrading treatment in psychiatric institutions.
- Statistical data regarding the situation of persons with disabilities. For example, data regarding enrolment of children with disabilities in schools or the employment rate of persons with disabilities.
- The perceptions and opinions of persons with disabilities. For example, polling a representative sample of persons with disabilities regarding their views on the accessibility of public transportation.
- The combined assessments of the human rights situation of persons with disabilities conducted with the assistance of 'informed experts', where 'informed experts' include persons with disabilities.
In many countries, there is a lack of official data concerning the rights of persons with disabilities. Developing indicators to measure implementation of the Convention provides a powerful way to identify 'evidence gaps' and then work with government agencies, such as national statistical authorities, to begin to plug them.
 Human Rights Indicators: A Guide to Measurement and Implementation, 2012; available at www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Indicators/Pages/HRIndicatorsIndex.aspx.
The results of an NHRI's monitoring activities can be used to promote action to realise the rights of people with disabilities.
Using evidence to inform action
Many NHRIs have extensive research programs and can make a valuable contribution towards effective monitoring of the situation of persons with disabilities in their respective countries.
The results of this monitoring can be used in a variety of way to promote action to realise the rights of people with disabilities including:
- To inform advocacy for changes to laws, policies and practices
- To inform human rights education for government officials, service providers, civil society, people with disabilities and their representative organisations
- To inform legal interventions, such as amicus curiae submissions by NHRIs to assist courts or tribunals
- To inform reporting to government, including through thematic report and annual reports 
- To inform reporting to regional and international human rights mechanisms, including UN human rights treaty monitoring bodies and the Universal Periodic Review.
 The South African Human Rights Commission and the Ugandan Human Rights Commission include a specific section regarding the human rights situation of persons with disabilities in their annual reports.
Find out more
Chapter 11, Human Rights and Disability: A Manual for National Human Rights Institutions (APF, 2017)
Human Rights Indicators: A Guide to Measurement and Implementation (OHCHR, 2012)
- Boy in a wheelchair writing on a blackboard - UNICEF/UN Enable
- Person sits on the ground in a place of detention - APF
- Cover of a monitoring report by the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia - Human Rights Commission of Malaysia