Creating a 'Building a Disability Rights Information Center for Asia and the Pacific' Clinic: Of Pedagogy and Social Justice
47 Pages Posted: 18 Nov 2014
Date Written: November 10, 2014
The lead author (MLP) and colleagues (especially Yoshikazu Ikehara, Esq., director of the Tokyo Advocacy Law Office) have been working for several years to create a Disability Rights Tribunal for Asia and the Pacific (DRTAP). One aspect of the DRTAP is the creation of a Disability Rights Information Center for Asia and the Pacific (DRICAP), a website collecting statutes, regulations, scholarly articles, advocacy news, and case law from selected Asian and Pacific nations.
As part of the DRTAP efforts, the author created a clinic – Building a Disability Rights Information Center for Asia and the Pacific – that he taught as a two-semester course at New York Law School in academic year 2013-14. Students in the course (1) studied recent developments in the relationship between international human rights and mental disability law (focusing on the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities), (2) learned about the DRTAP initiative (seen as the only realistic way that disability rights will ever be enforced in that region of the world, and (3) participated in the “building” of the DRICAP website, by researching and analyzing all disability rights law-based developments in specified Asia/Pacific nations, and preparing them for website posting and distribution. About 2/3 of the way through the semester, four of the students (including three of the co-authors of this paper) participated with the lead author at Faculty-Student Presentation Day, in which we presented our work-in-progress to faculty and other students.
We have chosen to write this article both to share with others the work that we have done through this clinic so as to serve as a tool for social change and to improve access to justice on behalf of persons with disabilities, and, we hope, to inspire other clinicians and students to engage in similar projects on behalf of persons with disabilities in other parts of the world. In Part I, the lead author will explain how he structured the course, what work was assigned, how the classroom sessions operated, how the included nations were chosen, how “key players” in the nations in question were chosen as contacts, and how – for about half of the second semester – the class was broken up into overlapping groups of 2-3 for intensive work with the professor. In Part II, the five participating students will explain separately how they went about their work, the pitfalls, the challenges, and the breakthroughs. In Part III, the lead author will retrospectively reconsider the work that was done and its expected value for advocates in the region in question and for persons with disabilities in the included nations.
Keywords: international human rights, mental disability law, clinical law, regional tribunals, information law, comparative law
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