Monitoring the implementation of the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities : note / by the Secretary-General.
|UN Document Symbol||A/52/56|
|Convention||Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities|
|Document Type||Note by the Secretary-General|
|Subjects||Persons with Disabilities, Equal Opportunity, Non-Governmental Organizations, Education|
23 December 1996
SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT, INCLUDING QUESTIONS RELATING TO
THE WORLD SOCIAL SITUATION AND TO YOUTH, AGEING,
DISABLED PERSONS AND THE FAMILY
Monitoring the implementation of the Standard Rules
on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons
Note by the Secretary-General
1. At its forty-eighth session, the General Assembly adopted the Standard
Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities,
contained in the annex to its resolution 48/96 of 20 December 1993.
2. In section IV, paragraph 2, of the Rules, it is stipulated that the Rules
shall be monitored within the framework of the sessions of the Commission for
Social Development. The appointment of a Special Rapporteur to monitor their
implementation within the framework of the Commission for Social Development was
also envisaged in that paragraph.
3. In March 1994, the Secretary-General appointed Mr. Bengt Lindqvist (Sweden)
as Special Rapporteur. The Special Rapporteur prepared a report for the
consideration of the Commission for Social Development at its thirty-fourth
session. On the basis of that report and the findings of the Commission's
working group, the Commission adopted resolution 34/2, entitled "Monitoring the
implementation of the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for
Persons with Disabilities".1 In that resolution, the Commission took note with
appreciation of the report of the Special Rapporteur and of his recommendations,
and welcomed his general approach to monitoring, including the emphasis to be
placed on advice and support to States in the implementation of the Rules.
4. In section IV, paragraph 12, of the Rules, it is further stipulated that at
its session following the end of the Special Rapporteur's mandate, the
Commission should examine the possibility of either renewing that mandate,
96-37479 (E) 270197 /...
appointing a new Special Rapporteur or considering another monitoring mechanism,
and should make appropriate recommendations to the Economic and Social Council.
The present mandate of the Special Rapporteur will come to an end in 1997. The
Commission is requested to make its recommendations in that regard to the
Economic and Social Council and the General Assembly.
5. The final report of the Special Rapporteur on monitoring the implementation
of the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with
Disabilities, is annexed to the present note.
1 Official Records of the Economic and Social Council, 1995, Supplement
No. 4 (E/1995/24), chap. I, sect. E.
Final report of the Special Rapporteur of the Commission for
Social Development on monitoring the implementation of the
Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for
Persons with Disabilities
I. INTRODUCTION ........................................... 1 - 5 5
II. BACKGROUND AND FRAMEWORK FOR THE ACTIVITY .............. 6 - 22 5
A. Background ......................................... 6 - 10 5
B. The monitoring mechanism ........................... 11 - 14 6
C. Meetings of the panel of experts ................... 15 - 21 7
D. Guidelines issued by the Commission for Social
Development ........................................ 22 8
III. ACTIVITIES OF THE UNITED NATIONS SYSTEM ................ 23 - 33 9
A. Human rights and disability ........................ 24 9
B. Disability statistics programme of the Statistical
Division of the Department for Economic and Social
Information and Policy Analysis .................... 25 - 26 10
C. United Nations Children's Fund ..................... 27 10
D. International Labour Organization .................. 28 11
E. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural
Organization ....................................... 29 - 32 11
F. World Health Organization .......................... 33 12
IV. ACTIVITIES OF NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS ........... 34 - 41 12
V. ACTIVITIES OF THE SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR ................... 42 - 128 13
A. Promoting implementation of the Standard Rules ..... 42 - 49 13
1. Meetings with Governments ...................... 43 - 46 14
2. Conferences .................................... 47 - 48 14
3. Correspondence and communications .............. 49 15
B. Surveying progress ................................. 50 - 103 15
1. First survey ................................... 50 - 53 15
2. Second survey .................................. 54 - 59 16
(a) General policy ............................ 60 - 65 17
(b) Legislation: rule 15 ..................... 66 - 75 18
(c) Accessibility: rule 5 .................... 76 - 86 20
(d) Organizations of persons with disabilities:
rule 18 ................................... 87 - 95 22
(e) Coordination of work: rule 17 ............ 96 - 103 23
C. Related surveys - education: rule 6 ............... 104 - 116 24
1. Legal regulation of the right to special
education ...................................... 110 - 111 25
2. Parents' role .................................. 112 26
3. Education forms and the issue of integration ... 113 26
4. Special education legislation .................. 114 - 116 26
D. Related survey - employment: rule 7 ............... 117 - 128 27
1. Summary of rule 7 .............................. 117 - 128 27
2. ILO Convention No. 159 ......................... 121 - 128 28
VI. CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS ........................ 129 - 152 29
1. In his capacity as Special Rapporteur for monitoring the implementation of
the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with
Disabilities, the Special Rapporteur has the honour to deliver his final report
to the Commission for Social Development. It has been a privilege and a
stimulating task for him to act as Special Rapporteur in this area. He wishes
to express his sincere appreciation to the Secretary-General for showing
confidence in him by appointing him to this important task. He would also like
to thank all the Governments that have contributed financially to this project,
including the Swedish Government, which has provided him with office resources
throughout the entire exercise.
2. From the beginning, and during the whole monitoring activity, the Special
Rapporteur has enjoyed the full support of Under-Secretary-General Nitin Desai,
and excellent professional advice given by Mr. A. Krassowski and his group in
the Department of Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development. He also
wishes to express his appreciation for the excellent work performed by his
colleagues in his Swedish office.
3. One key element in the monitoring exercise was the panel of experts,
established by six major international non-governmental organizations in the
disability field. The panel members, five men and five women with different
experiences regarding disability, provided valuable guidance. They were also
very understanding when limited resources made it impossible to pursue all good
ideas and initiatives.
4. Finally the Special Rapporteur wishes to thank all those Governments and
non-governmental organizations that provided information for his work.
5. The Special Rapporteur has chosen to describe the entire monitoring
exercise. However, as he had delivered an interim report to the Commission for
Social Development at its thirty-fourth session, the first year's activities are
summarized in the present report. To illustrate how widespread the Standard
Rules have become, he has included brief information about activities undertaken
by specialized agencies of the United Nations and by non-governmental
organizations in the disability field. The main emphasis in the report is on
recent activities and on the second extensive survey, which was a main activity
during 1996. In the final section of the report - Conclusions and
recommendations - he has presented the observations he made during the work on
this most stimulating task.
II. BACKGROUND AND FRAMEWORK FOR THE ACTIVITY
6. To fully understand the importance of the Standard Rules it is necessary to
go back to the events that began with the proclamation of 1981 as the
International Year of Disabled Persons. Of particular importance in this
context was the adoption by the General Assembly of the theme of the Year -
"full participation and equality", which meant recognition at the highest
possible political level of the right to full participation of disabled people
in the societies to which they belong.
7. During the 15 years that have passed since the International Year, "full
participation and equality" has been widely accepted as the overall goal of all
development efforts in the disability field. The World Programme of Action
concerning Disabled Persons, adopted by the General Assembly in 1982, also made
significant contributions to the clarification and understanding of the
policies, programmes and measures necessary to obtain that goal. One such major
contribution is the new chapter on equalization of opportunities, which brings a
third dimension to the field of disability.
8. During the subsequent decade of disabled persons, 1983-1992, when the
policies and programmes outlined in the World Programme of Action were to be
implemented, some significant developments were made. Generally, however, too
little occurred. That was the major concern of the group of experts who in 1987
evaluated the outcome of the first half of the decade.
9. As a result, the international disability community requested that the
United Nations should assume a strong leadership role and give more concrete
guidelines for development. In response to that request, the Standard Rules
were elaborated and unanimously adopted by the General Assembly in its
resolution 48/96 of 20 December 1993.
10. There are mainly three things that distinguish the Standard Rules from the
World Programme of Action: the Rules are more concentrated and concrete in
form; they directly address the issue of Member States' responsibility; and they
include an independent and active monitoring mechanism.
B. The monitoring mechanism
11. One of the most significant features of the Standard Rules is that their
implementation should be actively monitored. In section IV of the Rules there
is a fairly detailed description of the monitoring mechanism. Its purpose, as
set forth in section IV, paragraph 1, is
"to further the effective implementation of the Rules. It will assist each
State in assessing its level of implementation of the Rules and in
measuring its progress. The monitoring should identify obstacles and
suggest suitable measures that would contribute to the successful
implementation of the Rules."
12. There are three actors involved in the monitoring task. The monitoring
should take place within the framework of the sessions of the Commission for
Social Development. A Special Rapporteur should do the actual monitoring work
and report to the Commission. Finally, the non-governmental organizations in
the disability field should be invited to establish among themselves a panel of
experts, to be consulted by the Special Rapporteur.
13. In March 1994 the Secretary-General appointed Mr. Bengt Lindqvist (Sweden)
as Special Rapporteur. In September 1994 a panel of ten experts, five men and
five women, all with personal experience of various disabilities, from different
parts of the world, was established by the following six international
organizations: Disabled Peoples' International; Inclusion International;
Rehabilitation International; World Blind Union; World Federation of the Deaf;
and World Federation of Psychiatric Users.
14. A precondition for the entire monitoring exercise was that extrabudgetary
funding could be raised for most of the activities. Eleven Governments
altogether have contributed financially to the project. The total amount of
those contributions is estimated at $650,000. A special service agreement
between the Secretariat and the Special Rapporteur was signed in August 1994 for
the period 1994-1997. It was agreed that the Special Rapporteur should carry
out his work from a small office in Sweden and that the Secretariat would assist
with advice and administrative services.
C. Meetings of the panel of experts
15. The panel of experts has held two meetings at United Nations Headquarters
in New York, the first in February 1995 and the second in June 1996. Through
correspondence, members of the panel have continuously been informed and
consulted by the Special Rapporteur.
16. All members of the panel attended the first meeting, in February 1995. The
main purpose of the meeting was to give general advice concerning the monitoring
task during the remaining two years. The panel agreed on a set of concrete
recommendations, which have been very useful for the Special Rapporteur.
17. Among the recommendations, the following are of a more general importance:
(a) The relationship between existing United Nations documents in the
disability field should be clarified: In the global effort to implement the
overall goal of full participation and equality, the panel of experts considers
the implementation of the Standard Rules to be the most important task during
the next few years. The panel considers that the World Programme of Action
concerning Disabled Persons is providing an important framework for action in
the fields of prevention, rehabilitation and equalization of opportunities for
persons with disabilities. The long-term strategy, adopted by the General
Assembly in 1994, should be regarded as a useful tool in the implementation of
the Standard Rules;
(b) The monitoring of the Standard Rules should be carried out in the
spirit of cooperation and partnership on the international level between the
United Nations and the international non-governmental organizations
participating in the panel of experts, and on the national level between
Governments, the national non-governmental organizations and the United Nations;
(c) Although the overall goal of the monitoring activity is to implement
fully all of the 22 rules, the monitoring efforts should be concentrated on the
following six areas: legislation (Rule 15); coordination of work (Rule 17);
organizations of persons with disabilities (Rule 18); accessibility (Rule 5);
education (Rule 6); employment (Rule 7);
(d) Efforts should be made by the Secretariat and the Special Rapporteur
to involve the specialized agencies and the regional commissions in the
implementation of the Rules;
(e) Further action should be taken to increase awareness in Governments,
non-governmental organizations and the United Nations system.
18. The second meeting of the panel was held in June 1996. Nine panel members
were present. During the preceding months the Special Rapporteur had
distributed a comprehensive questionnaire to all Member States and to national
non-governmental organizations in the disability field. One major task for the
panel at the second meeting was therefore to discuss the outcome of that survey.
Despite the fact that the final date for submissions had expired ten weeks
earlier, replies were still coming in at the time of the meeting. A broad
analysis of the results had therefore not yet been started.
19. The panel gave advice on issues of special interest for the analysis and on
the structure of the report. It noted with great satisfaction the high response
rate to the questionnaire, which should provide the United Nations with
extensive information in essential policy areas.
20. In view of the fact that only one year remained of the monitoring period,
the panel started to discuss what should follow after 1997. Panel members were
of the opinion that three years was a very short time for the worldwide
monitoring of the implementation of such extensive policy guidelines as the
Standard Rules. The panel therefore decided to recommend to its organizations
that they should advocate a prolongation of the monitoring task.
21. The panel of experts also discussed how the disability component could be
integrated into the implementation of the five-year follow-up plan for the World
Summit for Social Development, recommended by the Commission for Social
Development to the Economic and Social Council. In that context it is urgent to
raise the issue of how disability measures can be included into such programmes.
Following the adoption of resolution 34/2 of the Commission for Social
Development, the panel decided to make the following statement:
"The panel noted with some alarm the tendency to disregard the
specific needs of individuals with disabilities within Governments, the
United Nations and professional groups. This signifies the continued low
priority status assigned to the individuals with disabilities on the ladder
of progress. It is necessary to build the disability dimension into the
existing models of Government and the United Nations in order to make laws
and policies specific to the needs of individuals with disabilities."
D. Guidelines issued by the Commission for Social Development
22. At its thirty-fourth session, in April 1995, the Commission for Social
Development received the first report of the Special Rapporteur. In its
resolution 34/2 the Commission expressed its support for the approach to
monitoring taken by the Special Rapporteur, which is to place emphasis on advice
and support to States concerning implementation of the Standard Rules.
Moreover, the Commission:
(a) Encouraged the Special Rapporteur to focus his monitoring efforts in
the forthcoming two years on an appropriate number of priority areas, bearing in
mind that the overall goal of the monitoring activity is to implement the Rules
in their entirety;
(b) Called upon the Department for Policy Coordination and Sustainable
Development, as the United Nations focal point on disability issues, the United
Nations Development Programme and other entities of the United Nations system,
such as the regional commissions, the specialized agencies and inter-agency
mechanisms, to cooperate with the Special Rapporteur in the implementation and
monitoring of the Rules;
(c) Strongly urged States and intergovernmental and non-governmental
organizations to continue to cooperate closely with the Special Rapporteur and
respond to his second questionnaire on implementation of the Rules;
(d) Called upon States to participate actively in international
cooperation efforts concerning policies for equalization of opportunities and
for improvement of living conditions of persons with disabilities in developing
III. ACTIVITIES OF THE UNITED NATIONS SYSTEM
23. In section IV, paragraph 7, of the Standard Rules, the specialized agencies
and other United Nations entities are requested to cooperate with the Special
Rapporteur in implementing the Rules. The following have responded positively
to that request and have taken special initiatives in connection with the
monitoring of the Rules.
A. Human rights and disability
24. Since the publication in 1992 of the report by Special Rapporteur
Leandro Despouy, entitled Human Rights and Disabled Persons, several activities
have been initiated, including the following:
(a) In paragraph 22 of its Vienna Declaration and Program of Action the
World Conference on Human Rights, held at Vienna in 1994, stated that
"Special attention needs to be paid to ensuring non-discrimination,
and the equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by
disabled persons, including their active participation in all aspects of
(b) The Subcommission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of
Minorities, in paragraph 1 of its resolution 1995/17 of 18 August 1995,
requested the Secretary-General to report in 1996 to the Subcommission regarding
coordination endeavours that affect persons with disabilities, with emphasis on
activities of the other United Nations organizations and bodies that deal with
alleged violations of human rights;
(c) In May 1996 the following three Committees reported activities in the
field of human rights and disability: Committee on the Rights of the Child;
Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; and Committee on the
Elimination of Discrimination against Women;
(d) In all these areas the analysis concerning the protection of the human
rights of persons with disabilities has been started. Of particular interest is
General Comment No. 5 (1994), issued by the Committee on Economic, Social and
Cultural Rights. In its analysis the Committee also related the situation of
disabled persons to the general trends of development and discussed necessary
means for the protection of the rights of persons with disabilities;
(e) Finally, the Commission on Human Rights, in paragraph 5 of its
resolution 1996/27 of 19 April 1996, entitled "Human Rights of persons with
disabilities", urged all Governments to implement, with the cooperation and
assistance of organizations, the Standard Rules on the Equalization of
Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities.
B. Disability statistics programme of the Statistical
Division of the Department for Economic and Social
Information and Policy Analysis
25. The Standard Rules draw attention to the importance of statistical data on
the living conditions of persons with disabilities and to the fact that the
collection of such data should be undertaken at regular intervals as part of the
official statistical system of countries.
26. The work is concentrated on three main issues:
(a) Together with States and other participants, improve the methodology
for the collection of data by standardizing concepts of disability and
establishing new and more effective procedures for the collection of data;
(b) Compile existing data into a database (Distat);
(c) Cooperate with the growing numbers of users of data on disability,
such as planning agencies, research institutes and non-governmental
C. United Nations Children's Fund
27. The headquarters of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) took an
active role in disseminating copies of the Standard Rules in English and other
languages to over 150 UNICEF regional and country offices. In addition to the
Convention on the Rights of the Child and the UNICEF policy paper on children in
need of special protection measures, UNICEF officials have also used the
Standard Rules in their promotion of human rights and improved conditions for
the children of the world.
D. International Labour Organization
28. As the Special Rapporteur, in consultation with the panel of experts, had
decided to study employment policies as one of six selected Rule areas, and as
it was considered important to bring up the issue of employment in the final
report of the monitoring, the International Labour Organization (ILO) offered to
make available data on the monitoring of ILO Convention No. 159, ratified by 56
countries. The material contains Government reports and communication between
Governments and ILO experts concerning the practical application of the various
articles of the Convention. For the Special Rapporteur's analysis, six articles
in the Convention were selected, which all have corresponding sections in Rule 7
on employment. For a summary of the results, see section V.D in the present
report. In addition, beginning in 1997, ILO will carry out a general survey of
the law and practice of Member States that have ratified Convention No. 159.
The results of this extensive survey will be presented to the International
Labour Conference in 1998.
E. United Nations Educational, Scientific and
29. Since 1980, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural
Organization (UNESCO) has collected information on practice in special
education. The latest review, published in 1995, concerns 1993-1994. A great
deal of the collected information is highly relevant to the monitoring of Rule 6
on education. According to UNESCO, that study is to be seen as a UNESCO
contribution to the monitoring of the Standard Rules.
30. Moreover, UNESCO carried out a study on legislation pertaining to special
needs education. The information, provided by 52 countries, was compiled in
1994 and published in 1996.
31. In 1994 UNESCO organized the World Conference on Special Needs Education at
Salamanca, Spain. More than 90 countries were represented. The Conference
adopted the Salamanca Statement and Framework for Action, which builds on and
develops the guidelines in Rule 6 of the Standard Rules.
32. In 1995 the issue of special needs education was on the agenda of the
UNESCO Conference. The Special Rapporteur had the opportunity to address the
Conference in his official capacity. In his statement he emphasized the
importance of implementing the guidelines presented in the Standard Rules and
the Salamanca Statement, which are in harmony with each other in all essential
F. World Health Organization
33. As a World Health Organization (WHO) contribution to the monitoring of the
Standard Rules, the Special Rapporteur and the members of the panel of experts
from developing countries were invited to participate in the meeting of WHO
regional advisers for rehabilitation, which took place at Geneva in
January 1996. The role of WHO in the implementation of the Standard Rules was
discussed. Among the recommendations made at the meeting were the following:
(a) WHO should promote the general spirit and direction regarding human
rights as stated in the Standard Rules, taking responsibility for monitoring
rules 2 and 3 and, partially, rule 4;
(b) WHO should promote a multi-sectoral approach to the analysis of the
disability situation in developing countries so that appropriate national
policies to guide programme planning can be developed;
(c) WHO should promote the inclusion of organizations of persons with
disabilities in the development, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of
country-based resources programmes;
(d) Collaboration at the national, regional and international levels
should be increased to intensify the fight for and to end discrimination
against, persons with disabilities;
(e) A media campaign about disability issues and the Standard Rules should
be promoted with the collaboration of various public sectors, non-governmental
organizations and organizations of persons with disabilities.
IV. ACTIVITIES OF NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS
34. The major international non-governmental organizations in the disability
field were, from the very beginning, actively involved in the elaboration of the
Standard Rules. Even though some parts of the Rules were agreed upon through
compromise, it is important to note that the international non-governmental
organizations fully supported the adoption of the Rules.
35. The unique form of cooperation, where non-governmental organizations, upon
the invitation of the United Nations, established a panel of experts to serve as
part of the monitoring exercise, meant a direct involvement of those
organizations in the actual monitoring process.
36. The six international non-governmental organizations represented in the
panel and a considerable number of other organizations have organized many
different activities to support the implementation of the Rules. Several
organizations have assembled users' guides and information kits to assist member
organizations in the utilization of the Rules. Those materials are being
extensively used both on national and regional levels.
37. The Rules have been presented in articles in many of the organization
magazines. In some cases series of articles have been published.
38. At practically all important events organized by the major non-governmental
organizations, the issue of implementing the Standard Rules has been part of the
39. The major non-governmental organizations have worked together at all the
recent world conferences organized by the United Nations, including the Social
Summit, to ensure that the implementation of the Standard Rules was included in
declarations and reports issued by those conferences.
40. The following quotation from subparagraph 75 (k) of the report of the World
Summit for Social Development may serve as an example of what was obtained
through those activities:
"75. Governmental responses to special needs of social groups should
"(k) Promoting the United Nations Standard Rules on the Equalization
of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities and developing strategies
for implementing the Rules. Governments, in collaboration with
organizations of people with disabilities and the private sector, should
work towards the equalization of opportunities so that people with
disabilities can contribute to and benefit from full participation in
society. Policies concerning people with disabilities should focus on
their abilities rather than their disabilities and should ensure their
dignity as citizens".1
41. The non-governmental organizations have brought up the issue of integrating
the disability component, built on the Standard Rules, into the mainstream
activities of the various United Nations agencies.
V. ACTIVITIES OF THE SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR
A. Promoting implementation of the Standard Rules
42. In accordance with the purpose of the monitoring - to further the effective
implementation of the Rules - the Special Rapporteur has endeavoured to use all
available opportunities to present the Rules, their background, message and
function. During the 30 months since he began monitoring in August 1994, he has
had discussions with 20 individual Governments, of which 15 were of developing
countries or countries in transition. On all those occasions he has also
involved the national organizations of disabled people. He has participated in
about 35 international conferences and has held meetings with all the major
United Nations agencies with responsibilities in the disability field. During
the entire monitoring exercise he has had extensive correspondence and
communication with numerous individuals, who in different ways have been
involved in the monitoring task.
1. Meetings with Governments
43. Meetings with individual Governments have been initiated mainly in two
ways. In many cases the Special Rapporteur has been invited directly by
Governments interested in discussing various aspects of the implementation of
the Rules. In some cases the Special Rapporteur has suggested to Governments
that a meeting should be held, as he was attending a conference in the country
or in a neighbouring one.
44. The character of the talks has varied, owing to the situation in the
particular country. In some cases Governments wished to present their new
initiatives in the disability field to the Special Rapporteur and discuss
various aspects of implementation (Japan, China, Mexico, India). Other visits
have been made to countries in transition, where Governments wished to discuss
how the disability issue could be integrated into the reconstruction or
reorientation of governmental policy (South Africa, the Palestinian Authority,
Estonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the Czech Republic).
45. In some cases the Special Rapporteur's visit has resulted in written
recommendations for future measures (the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia,
the Czech Republic).
46. During all these visits, the Special Rapporteur has established contacts
with existing organizations of disabled people and tried to involve other
organizations and agencies in the disability field. The representatives of
organizations of disabled persons have, in some cases, been invited by their
Governments to participate in his deliberations with various ministries. The
general impression of the Special Rapporteur is that his visits have often
vitalized the dialogue between Governments and organizations. In some cases he
has been able to suggest new initiatives to the organizations. In a few cases
he has functioned as a mediator, suggesting a compromise. Such mediation has
often concerned the establishment of a coordinating council, the composition and
function of such a body.
47. In view of the great importance of the non-governmental organizations in
the disability field in advocating the implementation of the Standard Rules, the
Special Rapporteur has given high priority to his participation in major events
organized by such organizations. In fact, he has attended almost all world
congresses and assemblies arranged by the six organizations constituting the
panel of experts. He has also attended numerous other international
conferences. Some of those conferences have been jointly organized by
Governments, specialized agencies and non-governmental organizations. A very
useful type of conference for promoting the implementation of the Standard Rules
has been the regional conference, with the participation of Governments and
organizations. One such regional conference, held at Abidjan was of particular
interest, as it was organized jointly by the three specialized agencies, ILO,
UNESCO and WHO, in collaboration with UNDP. Participants came from Governments,
organizations and the agencies referred to.
48. The participation of the Special Rapporteur has usually consisted in a
general presentation of the Standard Rules, often followed by a workshop or a
seminar where various aspects of the implementation work have been discussed.
Through his participation at so many international meetings, the Special
Rapporteur has reached numerous persons with different functions from a large
number of countries with his message. At some of the world congresses organized
by the international non-governmental organizations, more than 100 countries
have been represented. Finally, he has also been invited to speak at
universities, county councils, research seminars and seminars on development
3. Correspondence and communications
49. The correspondence in connection with the Special Rapporteur's various
activities has been extensive. He has been asked to send written statements,
which have been used in various texts. He has written a number of articles for
magazines for the international non-governmental organizations, WHO and the
European Union. He has provided advice concerning various implementation
aspects, and in some cases people have raised individual issues with him. Owing
to the extensive network of contacts he has developed during the monitoring
task, the Special Rapporteur has often handled requests for speakers on the
Standard Rules for various meetings and conferences.
B. Surveying progress
1. First survey
50. In November 1994 a first letter from the Special Rapporteur to Governments
was distributed to Member States. The letter contained four general questions
concerning the reception of the Rules by Governments and other interested
entities in the countries.
51. A country-by-country summary of all the replies was made and attached to
the first report to the Commission. The following highlights might be noted:
(a) Most Governments indicated either that they had already acted in the
spirit of the Rules or that they were drafting new policies in accordance with
(b) Many countries had translated the Rules into their native language,
even in countries with more than one language;
(c) Many countries already had national coordination committees. In
others, such bodies were being created. Throughout the replies, there was
strong emphasis on the active participation by organizations of disabled persons
in developing policies and programmes in the disability field;
(d) Many countries expressed the wish to receive more information,
especially about the activities in the disability field in other countries;
(e) Some countries had already adopted, or were drafting, legislation or
other documents using the principles of the Rules;
(f) In some countries the Rules were used in awareness-raising campaigns;
(g) One country was planning to develop an e-mail forum for the Rules;
(h) Several new bodies or institutions were created with various functions
but with the common purpose of supporting the implementation of the Rules, for
example, a High Commissioner on Disability (Morocco), a Disability Ombudsman
(Sweden), an Equal Opportunities Centre (Denmark), a Special Committee of State
Secretaries (Norway) and a Foundation to promote development in the disability
field, with income from taxation on gambling (Estonia).
52. The first letter was distributed through regular United Nations channels.
Member States were asked to reply before 15 February 1995. A reminder to
Governments was sent out by the Secretariat shortly before the deadline for
submissions. In addition, the international non-governmental organizations
constituting the panel of experts were asked by the Special Rapporteur to
distribute the letter to their national members. A total of 38 replies was
received from Governments. Only four replies were transmitted by
53. Thirty-eight submissions only is, of course, a very disappointing result.
The questions were of such a nature that it would not have taken much time to
formulate a reply. Such a low response rate seems, however, to correspond well
with earlier experience within the Secretariat concerning questionnaires sent to
Member States on disability matters. Bearing that experience in mind, it was
decided to extend the efforts to encourage Governments and non-governmental
organizations to reply by sending reminders to all concerned and by using the
contacts already made. As it can be seen from the response rate in connection
with the second survey, the efforts were successful.
2. Second survey
54. In order to make a more accurate assessment of the worldwide implementation
of the Standard Rules, the Special Rapporteur decided, in consultation with the
panel of experts, to carry out a second survey among the Member States and
national non-governmental organizations in the disability field. The purpose of
the survey was threefold: (a) to assess the level of implementation; (b) to
identify main changes and accomplishments in the field of disability; (c) to
identify major problems and obstacles encountered during the implementation
55. The preparations began in August 1995, and the report on the survey was
completed in December 1996. A questionnaire was elaborated, which requested
information on five areas: general policy, legislation (rule 15); accessibility
(rule 5); organizations of persons with disabilities (rule 18); and coordination
of work (rule 17). Given the variations in economic, political and cultural
conditions that exist among Member States, it was a rather complicated task to
draft the questionnaire, and it is hardly surprising that certain questions
required a broad interpretation.
56. The questionnaire was transmitted in December 1995 to all Governments and
to the approximately 600 national member organizations of the six international
organizations constituting the panel of experts. Information was enclosed
stating that the objective was to identify the official policy of the country.
It was pointed out that the questionnaire focused specifically on the nature and
scope of the implementation of the Rules undertaken principally through
legislative action, administrative rules or regulatory measures.
57. By August 1996 the survey had generated 83 responses from Governments,
which might be considered as a considerable number of replies.
Replies Number Response rate (percentage)
Governments 83 45
NGOs - Organizations 163 27
NGOs - Countries 96 ..
58. It may be noted that replies were received from the Governments of 30
countries from which there was no response from non-governmental organizations.
Conversely, replies from non-governmental organizations were received from 43
countries whose Governments did not reply. In total, 126 countries were covered
by the survey.
59. It is encouraging to note that the survey has resulted in extensive and
essential disability data, which will be of great importance in understanding
the progress achieved in the area of disability policy. In the following
paragraphs some selected findings are presented from the analysis of Government
replies. Because of a constant flow of incoming replies, analyses of the data
could not be started until late August 1996. Therefore, time has not made it
possible to analyse the material in its entirety. It is intended to continue
the work and to publish a report including both Government replies and replies
from non-governmental organizations, as well as comparative studies of the
(a) General policy
60. An officially recognized disability policy is essential for the attainment
of equality of opportunity. One aim of the questionnaire was to identify the
existence of such a policy and the effect given it. The existence of a
disability policy can be measured, inter alia, by the extent to which relevant
legislation has been enacted and information campaigns have been undertaken.
61. In question 1 the respondents were asked to indicate whether there is an
officially recognized disability policy. In the majority of countries, that is,
70 of the 82 countries providing information on that issue, there is such an
officially recognized policy. Only 11 Governments, ten of which are of
developing countries, reported that they do not have such a policy.
62. In 10 countries the officially recognized disability policy is not
expressed in law, but in guidelines and/or in different policy documents.
63. In question 2 the respondents were asked to indicate where the emphasis in
the national disability policy lies. The aim was to find out whether disability
policy focuses on a welfare approach, on accessibility or on anti-discrimination
measures. When individual support is given more emphasis, the Special
Rapporteur's interpretation is that the disability policy is of a more
traditional welfare-oriented type. When accessibility or anti-discrimination
law gets the main emphasis, the Special Rapporteur considers the disability
policy to be more human-rights oriented. As the survey indicates, countries
place the highest importance on rehabilitation and prevention (that is, a
welfare approach), while less emphasis is given to accessibility measures and
anti-discrimination law. This could be considered an indication that many
countries have not yet implemented the Standard Rules. It could also be
explained by greater difficulty to organize and finance this kind of measure.
Unquestionably, the more traditional welfare approach to disability is still
64. In question 3, on general policy, respondents were asked to indicate
whether, since the adoption of the Rules, the Government has done anything to
initiate and support information campaigns, conveying the message of full
participation for persons with disabilities. Sixty-four of the 79 Governments
providing information reported that they had conveyed that message through
65. Of course, the actions taken by the Governments vary. The most frequent
measures mentioned are translation of the Rules, translation and publication
into a large print version, development of educational materials in order to
raise the awareness of the public, television and radio programmes conveying the
message of full participation, support to research projects, support to
non-governmental organizations advocating the message of full participation,
advertisements in newspapers and donations to support the work of the Special
Rapporteur. As many as 15 Governments reported that they have not done anything
in this area since the adoption of the Rules, a fact that is rather astonishing,
as three years have passed since they were adopted. To make the Rules known is
after all the easiest and the least costly measure of all.
(b) Legislation: rule 15
66. In order to present a broad picture of national legislation concerning the
rights of persons with disabilities, the second survey reviewed general aspects
of legislation. Question 4 aimed at finding out whether the Government had
enacted rights legislation to protect individuals and groups from discrimination
on the basis of disability. Such action can be carried out by general
legislation, special legislation or a combination of the two. The provisions in
general legislation are intended to apply equally to all persons, regardless of
disability. Special legislation draws attention to the particular needs of
persons with disabilities and creates specific protections. Special legislation
is often advocated when general legislation fails to provide sufficient
protection. It can be maintained that special legislation is stronger, since it
specifically refers to the needs and rights of persons with disabilities.
67. As the results indicate, the most common procedure is to use both special
and general legislation or a combination of the two. Fifty-six Governments
replied that there are specific amendments referring to disabled persons' rights
within general legislation. Ten Governments reported that the rights of persons
with disabilities are protected only by special legislation, and 17 Governments
reported that those rights are protected only by general legislation. The great
diversity among these countries indicates that the level of social and economic
development or legal tradition cannot play an essential role in the choice of
68. In question 5 the aim was to determine whether there are mechanisms to
protect the citizenship rights of disabled persons. Judicial mechanisms, as
well as administrative and other non-judicial bodies, are the institutional
arrangements through which citizenship is protected. The protection of the
rights of disabled persons depends to a large extent on the enforcement
mechanism built into the legislation. Unless objections can be raised through
judicial mechanisms or non-judicial bodies, laws remain ineffective. As the
results showed, the status of persons with disabilities in relation to the
enforcement mechanisms is not always clear.
69. In the majority of the 81 countries providing information, mechanisms have
been adopted to protect the rights of persons with disabilities. The most
common judicial mechanism is legal remedy through the courts, while the most
common non-judicial mechanism is a governmental body (administrative). Sixteen
Governments reported that they do not have any judicial mechanism. In two
countries there are neither judicial nor non-judicial mechanisms/arrangements to
protect the rights of disabled persons, which is a serious infringement of their
human rights (see the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,
article 2, paragraph 3, and articles 16 and 26).
70. In question 6 the aim was to ascertain whether general legislation applies
to persons with disabilities and their right to equal protection under the law,
or whether disability is a cause for differential treatment. The results showed
that in 27 of the 80 countries providing information, persons with disabilities
are not considered to be full-fledged citizens in a number of areas within the
general legislation, including the right to vote, the right to property, the
right to privacy. In 55 countries disability is not used as a basis for
71. The results indicated that disabled persons in 10 of the 80 countries
providing information are not guaranteed by law the right to education and the
right to employment. In 17 countries the right to marriage is not guaranteed by
law; in 16 countries the rights to parenthood/family, access to court of law,
privacy and property are not guaranteed by law, and in 14 countries persons with
disabilities have no political rights. As regards exclusion from the right to
marriage, parenthood/family, access to court of law, property and political
rights, they are all examples of the discrimination that occurs through
legislation and regulations. Legislation may actually prevent disabled persons,
in particular, those with mental disabilities, from exercising those rights.
For instance, in some countries the laws governing property exclude disabled
persons from owning property. There may also be legal provisions that prevent
disabled persons from entering into contracts in their own names. This seems to
be legally sanctioned discrimination, which those Governments have established
in their legislation (see the International Covenant on Civil and Political
Rights, articles 17, 23 and 25 and the International Covenant on Economic,
Social and Cultural Rights, article 12).
72. In question 7 the aim was to study the existence of legislation concerning
a number of benefits, such as health services, social security, rehabilitation
and employment. In 4 of the 82 countries providing information, no benefits at
all are guaranteed by law to persons with disabilities. In 33 countries all of
the aforementioned benefits are guaranteed by law, while in the remaining 49
countries one or more of those benefits are not guaranteed by law. In 10
countries the right to health/medical care is not guaranteed. In 14 countries
the right to training, rehabilitation and counselling is not guaranteed by law.
In 24 countries the right to financial security, in 27 countries the right to
employment and in 34 countries the right to independent living and the right to
participation in decision-making are not guaranteed by law. Thus, in most
countries one or more of those social security and welfare services are not
within the legal framework guaranteed to all citizens.
73. When comparing the information in questions 6 and 7, it can be noted that
Governments are more advanced in establishing laws that guarantee civil and
political rights than they are in establishing laws that guarantee the social
and economic rights. Persons with disabilities are significantly disadvantaged
in many societies. Many of the social and economic conditions they experience
reflect a basic lack of equality that can be traced back to a weak legal basis.
74. When comparing questions 6 and 7 with question 4, it can be concluded that
a correlation exists between general legislation and a weaker protection of
citizenship rights for persons with disabilities. When the rights of persons
with disabilities are protected only by general legislation, there are several
citizenship rights (political rights, the right to marriage, the right to
parenthood/family), as well as several social and economic rights (financial
security, employment, independent living) that are not guaranteed by law. This
trend could be found in 13 of 17 countries reporting only general legislation.
Only in four countries could exceptions be noticed to the trend that general
legislation is sufficient to protect the citizenship rights of persons with
75. In question 8 the aim was to ascertain whether new legislation concerning
disability has been enacted since the adoption of the Rules. In the majority of
the countries (44 of 83 countries providing information) no new legislation
concerning disability has been enacted since the adoption of the Rules.
However, several Governments (47 per cent) have recently adopted legislation
that protects persons with disabilities against discrimination and other forms
of unjust treatment.
(c) Accessibility: rule 5
76. In the area of accessibility, two major aspects must be considered - access
to the physical environment and access to information and communication.
Accessibility is taken for granted by the general population in such areas as
housing, transportation, education, work and culture. Without an accessible
physical environment and access to information, it becomes difficult to exercise
both political and social rights. Accessibility is therefore a prerequisite for
achieving the goal of full participation for persons with disabilities.
77. Questions 9 and 10 aimed at finding out whether there are laws and/or
regulations concerning the built environment. Twenty-three of the 83
Governments providing information reported that there are no standards which
require accessibility to the built environment.
78. In most countries there are standards that ensure accessibility to public
places. But in 42 per cent of the countries only are there public means of
transportation accessible to persons with disabilities. Thus, accessibility to
public places is in practice much lower, since without transportation it is
difficult to have access to buildings.
79. In question 12 the aim was to determine what measures have been promoted by
Governments in order to facilitate accessibility in the built environment. As
the study shows, providing special parking lots and installing automatic doors,
lifts and accessible toilets for persons with physical disabilities are the most
frequently promoted measures. The least frequent measures are the use of
special lighting and contrasting colours for the visually impaired. Eighteen of
the 81 Governments providing information reported no measures at all to
facilitate accessibility to the built environment.
80. In question 13 the aim was to determine whether any special transport
arrangements exist for persons with disabilities and for what purposes special
transport is available. In 26 of the 82 countries providing information there
are no special transport arrangements, not even reduced prices on public
transport in urban areas. Special transport arrangements vary to a great
extent. The survey indicated that special transport, when available, is most
often provided for the purpose of education and less frequently for recreational
81. Question 14 aimed at determining impediments when planning to build
accessible environments. A number of obstacles were listed and Governments were
asked to rate the most difficult ones. The results indicated that the three
main obstacles to adaptation of the built environment to the needs of disabled
persons are economic/budgetary factors, attitudinal factors and the lack of
enforcement mechanisms. Surprisingly, attitudinal factors are considered by
many as a major obstacle to accessibility measures.
82. Question 15 aimed at determining whether there is a disability awareness
component incorporated into the training of planners, architects and/or
construction engineers. The findings indicated that in the majority of the
countries (42 of the 78 countries providing information) there is no such
awareness component in training programmes.
83. The information and communication rights of persons with disabilities were
addressed specifically in questions 16, 17 and 19. Of particular importance is
to create measures that make information and communication accessible to deaf,
deaf-blind and visually impaired persons.
84. In question 16 the aim was to ascertain the status of sign language in
Member States. Our survey indicated that in 26 of the 80 countries providing
information, sign language is not used in the education of the deaf and is not
the main means of communication between deaf persons and others. In 15
countries it is used as the first language in the education of the deaf, and in
15 countries it is used as the main means of communication between deaf persons
and others, but not as the first language in the education of the deaf.
85. Questions 17 and 18 concerned measures taken by Governments to encourage
media and other public information providers to make their services accessible
to persons with disabilities. Such services include text on television, news in
sign language, interpretation in sign language of other programmes, large-print
editions of newspapers, text telephones for the deaf and interpretation of
theatre plays in sign language. The findings indicated that about 50 per cent
of the countries providing information had not taken any measures to encourage
the media to make their services accessible. Likewise about 50 per cent of the
countries reported that no measures had been taken to encourage other public
information providers to make their services accessible.
86. In question 19, the aim was to determine which services are provided in
order to facilitate information and communication between persons with
disabilities and others. The results showed that 71 of the 81 countries
providing information provide literature in Braille or tape and 45 countries
provide news magazines on tape or Braille. Thirty-four countries provide sign
language interpretation for any purpose and 25 countries provide large-print
readers. It is apparent that services to different groups of persons with
disabilities vary considerably. Services to blind and visually impaired persons
receive the most attention, while services to the deaf and to persons with
mental disabilities are more limited.
(d) Organizations of persons with disabilities: rule 18
87. According to rule 18, the activities concerning the implementation of the
Standard Rules should be carried out in cooperation between national authorities
and organizations of persons with disabilities. It is an important principle of
democracy that individuals should be involved in decision-making concerning
themselves. In this context, organizations of persons with disabilities
represent the experiences and aspirations of their members. Such organizations
can provide decision-makers with insight into, and knowledge of, the problems,
needs and requirements of persons with disabilities.
88. Question 20 concerned the existence of an umbrella organization, that is, a
joint organization of different organizations of persons with disabilities.
Sixty-three of the 81 countries providing information reported that a national
umbrella organization existed. Eighteen countries reported that there is no
umbrella organization. In the countries where the umbrella exists, most
organizations of persons with disabilities are represented.
89. Regarding the existence of legal provisions that mandate the
representatives of these organizations to participate in policy-making and to
work with governmental institutions (question 21), the results were as follows:
In 31 of the 80 countries providing information (39 per cent), there are no
legal provisions. In 49 countries (61 per cent) there are such legal
90. Question 22 aimed to determine if and how often the views of organizations
of persons with disabilities are taken into account. In 37 of the 80 countries
providing information, organizations are always consulted when preparing laws,
regulations and/or guidelines with a disability aspect. In 24 countries their
views are often taken into account. In 18 countries their views are sometimes
taken into account, and in one country the views of the organizations are never
taken into account.
91. As the results of question 23 showed, consultations take place most often
at the national level, less often at the local level and least often at the
92. Question 24 aimed to ascertain whether the Government gives any support and
what kind of support is given. In 65 of the 80 countries providing information,
organizations of persons with disabilities receive financial support from their
Governments. In nine countries organizations receive only organizational/
logistic support, while in five countries organizations do not receive any
support at all.
93. Question 25 tried to measure the extent to which persons with disabilities
participate in political and public life. Respondents were asked to evaluate on
a scale of one to five the extent to which persons with disabilities participate
in five different areas of public life: Government; legislatures; judicial
authorities; political parties; and non-governmental organizations. The level
of participation could be evaluated on a scale ranging from very limited to
94. The results showed that persons with disabilities participate to a very
limited extent in Government, legislatures and judicial authorities, but to a
great extent in non-governmental organizations. It is interesting to note that
participation in political parties scored next after non-governmental
95. Question 26 aimed at pointing out the role played by organizations of
persons with disabilities. The organizations most often help to raise public
awareness, to mobilize persons with disabilities and to advocate for rights and
improved services. Least often their role is to promote/organize incomegenerating
(e) Coordination of work: rule 17
96. Disability is a multidisciplinary and multidimensional issue that concerns
all spheres of society. There is therefore a constant need for coordination
between all parties concerned in developing disability policy and programmes.
97. In questions 27 and 28 the aim was to find out whether there is a national
coordinating committee or similar body and to whom it reports. Sixty-two of the
84 countries providing information reported that a coordinating committee or
similar body had been established, while 22 countries (26 per cent) reported
that they did not have a national coordinating committee or a similar body.
98. Regarding the authority to which the coordinating committee reports, in 39
of the 57 countries providing information, the coordinating committee reports to
the Ministry of Social Affairs or some other Ministry. In 12 countries the
coordinating committee reports to the Prime Minister's Office, while in six
countries the coordinating committee reports to other authorities.
99. In question 29 the aim was to determine what organizations and/or
authorities are represented in coordinating committees. Organizations of
persons with disabilities are represented in the coordinating committees in a
majority of the countries. It is less common for representatives of the private
sector to be included in the coordinating committees.
100. With questions 30 and 31 the aim was to ascertain whether the coordinating
committee is expected by the Government to participate in policy development and
to perform other tasks, for instance, evaluation and provision of services. In
51 of the 55 countries providing information, the coordinating committee is
expected to participate in policy development. In 42 of the 53 countries
providing information, the coordinating committee is expected to perform other
tasks. In only 11 of the 53 countries providing information is the coordinating
committee not expected to perform other tasks.
101. Question 32 concerned the effects of the establishment of the coordinating
committee. It has been very effective in improving coordination of
measures/programmes and in improving dialogue. The establishment of a
coordinating committee has not, according to the results, led to more accurate
planning or more effective use of resources. Eight of the 59 countries
providing information on this issue reported that it is too early for
102. The last question asked for the effects of the Rules on the approach to
disability policy. Fifty of the 59 Governments providing information (that is,
85 per cent) reported that the adoption of the Rules has lead to rethinking in
disability policy. Nine Governments reported that the adoption of the Rules had
not led to any rethinking. Twenty-three Governments did not answer the question
and three countries reported that it was too early for an assessment of the
effects of the Standard Rules.
103. When a Government answers that the adoption of the Rules has not led to
rethinking, it does not necessarily mean that the approach to disability is in
conflict with the philosophy expressed in the Rules. It can also mean that the
guidelines in the Standard Rules are very similar to the guidelines in the
country's disability policy.
C. Related survey - education: rule 6
104. The fact that persons with disabilities live a more or less segregated life
depends to a major extent on the shortcomings of social systems. One of the
most important of these is the educational system. There is a close
relationship between the level of education and integration into society.
Education lightens the burden of various forms of social disadvantage and opens
the door to better living conditions. Education of persons with disabilities is
consequently one of the most essential target areas of the Standard Rules.
105. To understand the contents of the Rule on education it is necessary to
consider it in the context of three other important documents that preceded the
Standard Rules and one document that followed their adoption. These other
documents are the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989),
the World Programme of Action Concerning Disabled Persons (1982), the World
Declaration on Education for All (1990) and the Salamanca Statement and
Framework for Action on Special Needs Education (1994).
106. The Salamanca Statement, the most recent of those documents, builds upon
and develops further the ideas formulated in rule 6 and makes them more precise.
It is a powerful instrument proclaiming inclusive education as the leading
principle in special needs education. It states that those with special
educational needs must have access to regular schools that should accommodate
them within a child-centred pedagogy capable of meeting these needs. Inclusive
education is regarded as the most effective means of combating discriminatory
attitudes and is believed to provide an effective education to the majority of
children and improve the efficiency and ultimately the cost effectiveness of the
entire educational system.
107. Many countries are now taking steps to implement the guidelines in the
Standard Rules. One major problem is the maintenance of a segregated system of
education - one "regular" educational system for the non-disabled and one
separate system of special education for persons with disabilities.
108. Since 1980, UNESCO has collected global information on practice in the
field of special education. In 1993-1994 the latest UNESCO review was
presented, entitled "Review of the Present Situation of Special Education",
which covers issues on policies, legislation, administration, organization,
teacher training, financing and provisions for special needs education. The
material is very useful in measuring the implementation of rule 6 on education
in the Standard Rules. In monitoring rule 6 the Special Rapporteur has studied
the findings of the review. He has also had access to a previous UNESCO review
on special education legislation (1991). In the following paragraphs, he has
selected some results and observations based on those two reviews, which are
important for understanding the situation in the field of education.
109. The 1993-1994 review is based on information collected through a
questionnaire that was sent to 90 Governments. Sixty-three Governments
responded. (In the case of Australia and Canada, two separate replies were
received, which explains the total of 65 replies).
1. Legal regulation of the right to special education
110. The right to education is denied millions of children with special
educational needs, who either receive inadequate and inappropriate public
education or are excluded from the public school systems. Although many
developing countries have recognized the right to education, it has in many
cases not been applied to persons with special educational needs.
111. Sixty-five countries provided information on legislation. Forty-four
countries reported that general legislation applied to the children with special
educational needs. Thirty-four countries reported that children with severe
disabilities were excluded from education. In 18 of the 34 countries reporting
exclusion, those children were excluded by law from the public educational
system. In 16 countries the exclusion was the result of other, non-legal
factors. The most common reason given for excluding some children from the
public education system was the severity of the disability, lack of facilities
and trained staff, long distances to schools and the fact that regular schools
do not accept pupils with special educational needs. Ten countries reported
that no legislation on special education exists.
2. Parents' role
112. One question in the UNESCO questionnaire tried to ascertain what formal
rights parents have in assessment procedures and decision-making with respect to
placement of children with special educational needs. In 22 of the 53 countries
providing information, the parents' role is fully recognized in decision-making
concerning placement. In seven countries parents only have the right to appeal
decisions concerning their child's placement. In 24 countries, however,
parents' involvement in decision-making and their right to choose placement in
special education is severely limited.
3. Education forms and the issue of integration
113. From the information presented in the 1993-1994 review, it may be
tentatively concluded that schooling for the children with special educational
needs is still predominantly provided in a segregated educational system and
that the rates of attendance in schools of persons with special educational
needs is very low in numerous countries. It was found, for instance, that in 33
of the 48 countries providing information, fewer than one per cent of pupils are
enrolled in special educational programmes. Thus, in most countries integration
represents an aspiration for the future. The UNESCO review indicates, when
compared to a review concerning the period 1986-1987, that some progress towards
the goal of integration into regular education has been achieved.
4. Special education legislation
114. In 1991 UNESCO requested Governments to report on the position of their law
concerning special education. The request for information for that study was
sent to 70 countries, of which 52 responded.
115. The aim was to identify the type of existing special education legislation
and what it covers. A few important findings from that study are as follows:
(a) In sixteen out of fifty-two countries providing information, special
education is financed totally by the State and/or local authorities;
(b) Only in ten of fifty-two countries are disabled children in regular
schools expected to follow the regular school curriculum, using the learning
methods suitable for their individual needs;
(c) In the majority of countries, the Ministry of Education is responsible
for the organization of special education services.
116. In an increasing number of countries, the Ministry of Education is
responsible for the organization of special education, while the responsibility
for the implementation and evaluation of such education is borne by federal
States or local authorities. In some countries the responsibility for
organization is shared among several Ministries. In one country there is a
division of responsibility between the Ministry of Education, for children with
moderate disabilities, and the Ministry of Welfare, for those with severe
D. Related survey - employment: rule 7
1. Summary of rule 7
117. One of the most important fields for action in disability policy concerns
the creation of equal job opportunities. Without success in that area, it will
not be possible to achieve the overall goal of full participation. The essence
of rule 7 on employment is that persons with disabilities should be empowered to
exercise their right to gainful employment, and that it is the responsibility of
States to remove all remaining obstacles to employment. The aim should always
be for persons with disabilities to obtain employment in the open labour market.
For persons with disabilities whose needs cannot be met in open employment,
small units of sheltered or supported employment may be an alternative.
118. The following quotations further illustrate the contents of rule 7:
(a) "Laws and regulations in the employment field must not discriminate
against persons with disabilities and must not raise obstacles to their
employment" (para. 1);
(b) "States should actively support the integration of persons with
disabilities into open employment" (para. 2);
(c) "States, workers' organizations and employers should cooperate with
organizations of persons with disabilities concerning all measures to create
training and employment opportunities ..." (para. 9).
119. The text also contains several examples of various technical measures that
could be taken by Governments in order to achieve those objectives.
120. Equal opportunities and the integration of disabled persons into the
community are also the objectives of Convention No. 159, adopted by ILO in 1983,
which is in conformity with the provisions of rule 7 on employment in the
Standard Rules. In fact, rule 7 was formulated on the basis of that Convention.
2. ILO Convention No. 159
121. Convention No. 159 provides for vocational rehabilitation measures for all
categories of disabled persons and for promotion of employment opportunities and
equal treatment of disabled men and women. The Convention also requires that
member countries, when formulating and implementing policies, should consult
organizations of disabled persons.
122. When the survey was made at the beginning of 1996, 54 countries had
ratified the Convention.
123. The distribution of those countries is as follows:
(a) Industrialized countries - 14;
(b) Countries in the Middle East and North Africa - 5;
(c) Countries in transition - 11;
(d) Countries in Latin America and the Caribbean region - 13;
(e) Countries in sub-Saharan Africa - 8;
(f) Countries in South Asia, East Asia and the Pacific - 3.
124. In accordance with article 22 of the ILO Constitution ratifying member
States must submit an annual report to the International Labour Office. In the
report member States must give information about all the measures taken for the
purpose of giving effect to the Convention.
125. A Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and
Recommendations is appointed by the Governing Body of ILO. The Committee's main
task consists of examining the reports submitted by Governments. ILO may write
to Governments and request them to provide additional information.
126. In order to assist the Special Rapporteur in monitoring rule 7 on
employment, ILO made country reports and communications between Governments and
the Committee of Experts available for his analysis. He has studied six
articles of the Convention that are close to the contents of rule 7 on
employment. Following are a few general observations concerning the compliance
by ratifying countries with requirements under some of the articles:
(a) Eleven of the 54 countries have not yet supplied any Government
(b) Eleven countries, mainly industrialized countries, have given effect
to the Convention through various measures based on legislation. In those
countries the Convention is considered by the ILO to be applied in its entirety;
(c) In seven countries measures concerning consultations and cooperation
with representative organizations of disabled persons have not been ensured;
(d) In three countries there are no measures to enable disabled persons to
gain and maintain employment;
(e) In 10 countries measures concerning vocational rehabilitation and
employment services in rural areas and remote communities have not been ensured;
(f) In eight countries measures to provide qualified vocational
rehabilitation staff have not yet been taken;
(g) In 16 countries the legislation is insufficient to guarantee full
application of the Convention, or the Convention is deemed to be applied to a
very limited extent. In one country the Convention is deemed not to be applied.
In one country the information supplied is insufficient to assess the compliance
of national policy and practice with the requirements of the Convention. In one
country the existing legislation is insufficient to serve as a framework for
127. To summarize, the measures that are least implemented concern vocational
rehabilitation in rural areas, cooperation with organizations of persons with
disabilities and availability of qualified staff. That implies that a
considerable number of disabled persons do not receive appropriate training.
The role played by organizations of persons with disabilities in representing
their groups in an advisory capacity has not yet been recognized in many
countries. The lack of training of staff in vocational rehabilitation is a
serious shortcoming in many countries, which leads to lower quality in training
128. The measure that is implemented in almost every country concerns
anti-discrimination provisions in the employment field, that is, the same
principles should apply to the treatment of disabled workers and of workers
VI. CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
129. The purpose of the United Nations Standard Rules is to provide guidance to
Member States concerning policies and measures to achieve the goal of "full
participation and equality". That goal brought a new dimension to disability
policy when it was launched 15 years ago. It drew attention to the surrounding
society and inevitably brought up the human rights aspect of disability policy.
130. The recommendations in the Standard Rules are very progressive and, in the
opinion of the Special Rapporteur, no country, not even among the most advanced
countries, has fully implemented the Rules. Nonetheless, there is no doubt that
the rules, in the short time since their adoption, have been widely accepted and
are being used as the main policy guidelines in the disability field both by
Governments and non-governmental organizations.
131. The Rules have been used by Governments in three main ways: as a basis for
new legislation; as guidelines for national plans of action; and as a basis for
evaluating policies and programmes. One important and encouraging signal
concerning the use of the Rules is the fact that so many Governments (83) and
non-governmental organizations (163) replied to the Special Rapporteur's second
132. The survey shows that a majority of Governments (85 per cent of those
providing information) indicate that the Rules have led to a rethinking of
policies. It must not be forgotten that the majority of Governments of Member
States, as far as it is known, may not yet have started to use the Rules. Among
the international non-governmental organizations the Rules are widely being used
for advocacy, for new initiatives and in training programmes. On the national
level the use of the Rules varies to a great extent among organizations.
133. In summary, the foregoing indicates that measures to make the Rules known
must continue and be strengthened on both the national and international levels.
134. On the international level it is obvious that United Nations specialized
agencies with involvement in the disability field are familiar with the Standard
Rules. ILO, UNESCO and WHO have cooperated with the Special Rapporteur in his
monitoring task. Those specialized agencies, however, have their own guidelines
in the disability field, which, of course, play a more visible role in their
development work. Generally, it can be said that there are no conflicting ideas
or approaches between the Standard Rules and those other documents. The role of
the Secretariat as focal point in support of the implementation of the Standard
Rules should be further developed. The cooperation between the Secretariat and
the specialized agencies in efforts to guide Member States in their policy
development should be better coordinated. A form of inter-agency mechanism
should be established, which could improve coordination and identify areas for
cooperation and joint action.
135. In the area of development cooperation the Special Rapporteur finds the
situation less satisfactory. He has not found any serious effort, either in
UNDP or in inter-governmental institutions for development cooperation, to
integrate disability measures into their mainstream activities. That is also
true concerning such international financial institutions as the World Bank and
regional development banks, among others. Owing to this lack of commitment,
there is a great risk that disability measures ones again will be left out or
marginalized in those development programmes launched in response to the United
Nations follow-up plan to the World Summit for Social Development. It would,
for instance, be extremely discouraging if programmes for poverty eradication
were to be launched without measures to support persons with disabilities. To
strengthen and integrate disability measures into the mainstream of technical
cooperation, including UNDP, the World Bank and other financial institutions, is
one of the most urgent measures of all in the future implementation of the
136. From the talks he held with Governments and organizations of persons with
disabilities, his participation in international conferences and the extensive
information received through the second survey, the Special Rapporteur can make
a number of observations concerning how far the implementation of the Rules has
advanced. According to the second survey, 85 per cent of Governments providing
information state that they have an officially recognized policy. A majority of
countries put the main emphasis on rehabilitation and prevention. That seems to
indicate that in most countries with an officially recognized policy, the
Standard Rules have not yet led to a broadening of their policies to include
accessibility and participation measures also. Advisory services and support to
Governments in their efforts to develop disability policies based on the
Standard Rules should be strengthened. That action should be carried out
through the specialized agencies within their mandate and the Secretariat.
137. One striking result is the weak protection of the human rights of persons
with disabilities in many countries. The results of the survey indicate that
violations of those rights on account of disability occur in a number of human
rights areas. The situation seems somewhat better in the area of civil and
political rights than in the area of economic, social and cultural rights.
Therefore, the activities initiated by different entities within the United
Nations human rights sector and the cooperation between them and the
non-governmental organizations in the disability field should be continued and
138. In the field of education, UNESCO adopted the Salamanca Statement and
Framework for Action after the adoption of the Standard Rules. That document,
together with rule 6 on education, provides excellent guidance for educational
policies in the disability field. One main reason for the marginalization of
persons with disabilities is lack of or inappropriate education. UNESCO studies
show that in many countries less than one per cent of children with special
educational needs receive education. In nearly 50 per cent of countries
providing information, those children are excluded from education, either by law
or for such other reasons as severity of disability, lack of facilities, long
distances and refusal by the regular schools to accept children with special
139. When children with special educational needs receive education, most often
it is through a separate system of special education. An integrated approach,
providing adequate support and accessibility in regular schools, seems far away
in many countries. As the right to education is a fundamental human right, it
is necessary for all Governments to provide appropriate education for children
and adults with special educational needs. Conditions should be created for
UNESCO to give more vigorous support to Governments in this area.
140. The most telling confirmation of success in disability policy would be the
achievement of employment rates similar to those for the general population.
That does not occur in any country in the world. On the contrary, States with
advanced welfare systems also report employment rates for persons with
disabilities far below those for the labour force generally.
141. Rule 7 on employment and ILO Convention No. 159, adopted in 1983, give
clear guidance for measures to create job opportunities. It is a disheartening
fact that, at the end of 1996, only 56 countries had ratified the ILO
Convention, adopted 13 years ago. Unfortunately, the Special Rapporteur's study
also shows that many Governments, having ratified the Convention, fail to comply
with important parts of the requirements. Governments that have not yet
ratified the ILO Convention should do so in order to strengthen their policies
and get professional assistance from ILO. Governments that have ratified the
Convention should make further efforts to reflect the provisions of the
Convention in their national law and practice.
142. In 1996-1997 ILO is dedicating its biennial general survey to disability
and labour market policies. The results will be reported in 1998. The survey
could provide a basis for a new and more effective labour market policy in the
disability field. The situation in employment indicates that the present
policies throughout the world fail to create equal job opportunities. ILO, in
cooperation with Governments and such inter-governmental bodies as the
Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development and the European Union
should take the lead in assisting Member States to formulate national policies
and strategies that could lead to equal job opportunities.
143. One important dimension of disability policy, which cuts right across all
spheres of society, is accessibility. In the second survey the Special
Rapporteur studied this aspect. Most countries have adopted some standards for
access to the physical environment. Twenty-three per cent of the countries
providing information have no such standards at all. In 32 per cent of the
countries there is no type of special transport arrangements. Only about
54 per cent of countries providing information have included a disability
component in the training of architects and building engineers.
144. In the area of access to information and communication much remains to be
done. The most established procedure here is obviously to provide Braille and
talking books to visually impaired persons. Sign language for the deaf is
gaining ground. In 19 per cent of the countries providing information, sign
language is the first language in education. In an equal number of countries
sign language is the main language used in communication between the deaf.
145. In order to achieve the goal of full participation it is necessary for all
Governments to continue to develop all kinds of accessibility measures. As some
industrialized countries have considerable experience in that area,
international exchange of information and concrete cooperation should be
146. The Standard Rules clearly recognize the advisory role of organizations of
persons with disabilities. A strong, cooperative movement of persons with
disabilities is probably the best possible guarantee of progress. In the second
survey the Special Rapporteur found that 78 per cent of countries providing
information have so-called umbrella organizations of persons with disabilities
through which the various disability groups cooperate. In 62 per cent of the
countries those organizations have a legal mandate to cooperate with
147. In 74 per cent of the countries providing information there are national
coordinating committees or councils through which Governments, organizations of
persons with disabilities and often others, cooperate. In almost all cases
those coordinating bodies are expected to participate in policy-making.
148. In many countries there is a pattern of cooperation between Governments and
organizations, which is of great importance for development in the disability
field. Governments should develop further that pattern of cooperation at all
levels. They should also strengthen their support to the work of organizations
of persons with disabilities.
149. One obvious weakness in Government handling of disability matters is the
common lack of monitoring and evaluation procedures (rule 20). That is also the
situation in many industrialized countries. The United Nations should, as part
of the follow-up activities to this monitoring exercise, take measures to assist
Governments to build their own monitoring and evaluation mechanisms. That could
be done as a task for the national coordinating councils or through separate
bodies. It is important, however, that such measures be taken in cooperation
with the organizations of persons with disabilities.
150. Finally, the following are some general observations about the Standard
Rules as an instrument for development and change. There is no doubt that the
United Nations Standard Rules have proved to be a useful tool in international
efforts to achieve full participation and equality. It is true that the Rules
are not legally binding, but the way in which they were elaborated in close
cooperation between numerous Governments and the community of major
international non-governmental organizations, should foster a strong commitment
on the part of all parties concerned to promote their implementation. One great
advantage is that the Rules maintain a sensible balance between suggesting firm
principles and providing space for adjusting measures to varying conditions in
countries. It is also important that the Rules form a part of a continuing
process, started in 1981 with the observation of the International Year for
Disabled Persons. All of these characteristics make the Rules a strong and
useful instrument. The Standard Rules should play a significant role in policy
development in years to come, as well.
151. However, there are also shortcomings. Governments have no obligation to
provide information to the United Nations for monitoring activity. Because of
that, very little is known about a considerable number of countries. During
recent years there has been a rapid development of information and knowledge
concerning the situation in the area of human rights for persons with
disabilities. The human rights perspective should be more developed in the
context of the Standard Rules.
152. Both the child aspect and the gender perspective are vague in the texts of
the Rules. Both the needs of the child and the gender perspective should
receive more attention in future implementation efforts. The Special Rapporteur
also wishes to point out that there is no rule in the important area of housing
and shelter, which, of course, is a shortcoming that could be redressed.
1 Report of the World Summit for Social Development, Copenhagen,
6-12 March 1995 (United Nations publication, Sales No. 96.IV.8), chap. 4,
sect. D, para. 75 (k)).