The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the Disability Rights Tribunal for Asia and the Pacific, and the Future of Online Legal Education in Chinese Schools as a Means of Training Lawyers to Represent Persons with Disabilities
39 Pages Posted: 19 Jan 2011
Date Written: January 19, 2011
Regional human rights tribunals are an essential element in the enforcement of international human rights in each continental region, especially in the context of mental disability law. In Asia and the Pacific region, however, there is no such body. Without a regional tribunal, we cannot be overly optimistic about the real life impact of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) on the rights of persons with disabilities in this region. The author - director of the International Mental Disability Law Reform Project at New York Law School - is working with colleagues to create a Disability Rights Tribunal for Asia and the Pacific (DR-TAP). The creation of this Tribunal would be a bold, innovative, progressive and important step on the path towards realization of the rights of persons with disabilities, an especially timely venture in light of the recent ratification of the CRPD. It is expected that, at first, this will be a voluntary tribunal and that eventually it will become state-sponsored.
This paper will (1) explain the proposed need for and structure of the DR-TAP (focusing specifically on, inter alia, issues related to the appointment of counsel, remedies, and sanctions) in the context of the historical background of such regional tribunals in Asia, (2) discuss the steps that have been taken so far to create this Tribunal, (3) explore the relationship between the DR-TAP and the CRPD, (4) explain why it is critical that China become a part of the DR-TAP, (5) discuss the role of online, distance learning courses in training counsel to represent individuals at such a Tribunal, and (6) offer strategies to enhance the possibilities that China would choose to participate in the Tribunal.
Keywords: China, international human rights law, mental disability law, Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Disability Rights Tribunal for Asia and the Pacific, right to counsel, anti-discrimination law, “Asian values”, cultural relativism, distance learning, law school pedagogy
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