Mainstreaming Disability in the United Nations Treaty Bodies

Journal of Human Rights, Forthcoming

44 Pages Posted: 15 Aug 2016

See all articles by Kjersti Skarstad

Kjersti Skarstad

University of Oslo, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Political Science

Michael Ashley Stein

Visiting Professor, Harvard Law School; University of Pretoria Faculty of Law, Centre for Human Rights

Date Written: August 12, 2016

Abstract

As of the beginning of this century, the United Nations (UN) human rights system had comprehensively elided persons with disabilities from its purview. The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) responded to this lacuna in 2006. The CRPD obligates States parties to mainstream disability by protecting and promoting the human rights of persons with disabilities in all policies and programs, and intersects disability with other discriminated-against populations. This Article investigates the success of the UN in mainstreaming disability throughout its human rights treaty bodies over the period 2000-2014 by comparing the seven years before and the eight years after the CRPD’s adoption for six core UN treaty bodies. In doing so, the Article provides initial and unique insight into how well the UN implements human rights norms into treaty bodies, and provides a template for future research on the inclusion of vulnerable group-based rights in the UN and beyond. Despite some significant variations between treaty bodies, we find an overall dramatic increase in the quantitative incidence of disability rights being referenced. Nevertheless, a closer look into the practices of two treaty bodies shows that the human rights of persons with disabilities, while noted by those bodies, are included fully only on occasion. For the UN to truly mainstream disability (or other) human rights, those rights must go beyond mere formal references and also be substantively integrated.

Keywords: disability, UN, treaty bodies, human rights

Suggested Citation

Skarstad, Kjersti and Stein, Michael Ashley, Mainstreaming Disability in the United Nations Treaty Bodies (August 12, 2016). Journal of Human Rights, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2822264

Kjersti Skarstad (Contact Author)

University of Oslo, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Political Science ( email )

Moltke Moesvei 31
Oslo
Norway

Michael Ashley Stein

Visiting Professor, Harvard Law School ( email )

1585 Massachussetts Avenue
Austin Hall 305
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-495-1726 (Phone)

University of Pretoria Faculty of Law, Centre for Human Rights ( email )

Private Bag X20
Hatfield 0028
Pretoria
South Africa

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