Promoting the human rights of all persons with disabilities

The central mission of the Harvard Law School Project on Disability (HPOD) is to support the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). This landmark human rights treaty mandates that persons with disabilities enjoy the same rights as all other persons. The United Nations adopted this agreement in December 2006, and it became binding international law in May 2008.  The CRPD commits countries to ensuring equality for persons with disabilities as well as to stopping discrimination against them. The CRPD offers an essential opportunity to improve the lives of the 650 million persons with disabilities worldwide.

Disability rights advocates are justifiably proud of the CRPD. Having a treaty, however, is only the first step. To convert legal rights on paper into real changes in the every day lives of persons with disabilities requires well informed advocacy by civil society. Disability rights advocates and their supporters need to ensure that all people understand the human rights contained in the CRPD, and that governments make these rights a reality by implementing the terms of the Convention.

Many people with disabilities do not yet know about their human rights or how to transform their communities to realize these rights. Likewise, many leaders of non-governmental organizations, governments, and the business community also do not yet understand about the rights of people with disabilities or how to champion them.

HPOD works to strengthen civil society and empower all people to make the changes needed in their communities to promote disability human rights. Much action is needed to ensure full equality for people with disabilities, including: raising awareness about these rights; promoting positive attitudes within and toward people with disabilities; writing and enforcing new national laws and policies; and undertaking inclusive development.

HPOD works to enable persons with disabilities to claim their full and equal human rights. HPOD endeavors to develop equitable societies that respect the equal autonomy and dignity of persons with disabilities. HPOD seeks to provide societies with a greater understanding of the capabilities of people with disabilities and how they contribute positively to their communities.

© 2008 The President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved.

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