The Convention requires that “persons with disabilities and their representative organizations, shall be involved and participate fully in the monitoring process” (Article 33). People with disabilities, their families, friends, and representative organizations need to ensure that governments respect, protect, and fulfill the human rights obligations contained in the CRPD. All of civil society should report human rights violations they experience or observe. Complaints can be made to courts, National Human Rights Institutions, equality commissions, or other independent bodies designated by their countries. For example, if children with disabilities are kept out of school, this should be reported.

Governments will have to report periodically to the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities about the changes they have made in their laws, policies, and societies to protect the human rights of people with disabilities. Persons with disabilities and their organizations should be involved in compiling these reports. Global disability advocates unhappy with governmental reports can also produce Shadow Reports on the status of people with disabilities to pressure governments to make positive changes.

Governments that have signed the Optional Protocol to the Convention have agreed to an additional monitoring procedure by the United Nations. Because more than 10 countries have ratified the Optional Protocol, the Committee that will monitor the Convention will also review individual and group communications alleging violations of the CRPD and have the authority to undertake inquiries in case of systemic violations.

Countries that consistently violate human rights are often successfully pressured to comply with their obligations by non-governmental organizations. Human rights violations against people with psychiatric disabilities or any person held within an institution are monitored by non-governmental organizations, including Mental Disability Rights International. Historically mainstream human rights monitoring organizations have not assisted people with disabilities. Hopefully this practice will change.

Currently many people with disabilities lack a voice and many human rights violations committed against them are unknown. This silence can be overcome by active political involvement in government, or in civil society. Participation of people with disabilities and their champions will be needed in all aspects of the implementation and monitoring processes of the Convention.

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

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