- October 24, 2023

During its 29th session, held between August 14th and September 8th, the CRPD Committee held constructive dialogues and adopted Concluding Observations on the eight following countries Andorra, Austria, Germany, Israel, Malawi, Mauritania, Mongolia, and Paraguay, four of which were reviewed for the second time. The concerns and recommendations addressed in the States Concluding Observations reflect common mistakes and gaps in CRPD understanding and implementation. Below, you find a few highlights specific to each State under review.


Andorra: Pending points for harmonization with the CRPD and a need to strengthen OPDs for advocacy

The review process of this exceptionally small and high-income State was characterized by the lack of engagement of national organizations of persons with disabilities, which prompted Committee’s questions and the recommendation to “[s]trengthen measures and mechanisms for the close consultation with and active involvement of persons with disabilities, through their representative organizations, […], in public decision-making processes and ensure that meaningful consultations are held with the diverse groups of organizations of persons with disabilities, in the design, implementation, and monitoring of disability-related laws and policies.”

Other key elements include the still-pending reform of disability assessment. The Committee recommended to “[e]xpedite the adoption of a new set of regulations governing the National Evaluation Commission (CONAVA) and the criteria for assessing disability.” In connection to Article 12 CRPD, the Qualified Act on the Person and the Family 30/2022, still provides for “curatorship” (Articles 53 and 56). The Committee recommended reviewing this act “[t]o guarantee the right of all persons with disabilities, particularly persons with intellectual and/or psychosocial disabilities, to equal recognition before the law, and abolish provisions allowing restrictions of their legal capacity on the basis of impairment.” Finally, as Andorra had signed a collaboration agreement with the Our Lady of Meritxell Private Foundation (FPNSM) for the provision of residential care service for persons with disabilities (l'Albó residence), the Committee recommended its review and to “[r]edirect public funding from institutions towards support for living in the community.” 


Austria: No exception - the Convention is applicable to the Federal states, Landers, and Municipalities

The CRPD Committee noted the lack of implementation of the Convention at the Länder and municipal level and, thus, stressed: “[t]he provisions of the Convention should extend to all parts of federal states without any limitations or exceptions”. As a matter of urgency, the CRPD Committee urged Austria to address recommendations on independent living and education.

Regarding independent living (article 19 CRPD), the Committee recommended the establishment of a comprehensive, nationwide deinstitutionalization strategy, with benchmarks, timeframes, and funding and urged the government to “[r]efrain from any further investment in existing or new institutions for persons with disabilities and allocate appropriate financial, technical and educational resources to foster the right to independent living of all persons with disabilities”. Finally, the Committee urged the government to ensure close consultation with and active involvement of, organizations of persons with disabilities in all deinstitutionalization processes.

On inclusive education (Article 24 CRPD), the CRPD Committee noted, with concern, the regression and called for ending the expansion of the segregated school system and the transference of resources from segregated education to inclusive education. The CRPD Committee further recommended that the government develop a nationwide strategy for inclusive education that encompasses all education systems of all levels of education, including those of the Länder and the municipalities, and for “[i]nclusive education policies and guidelines, and harmonized inclusive education curricula which should be developed in close consultation with and the effective involvement of organizations of persons with disabilities”.


Germany: More and better tools for OPDs rights-based advocacy

The second Concluding Observation on Germany brought interesting elements to enhance, strengthen, and expand the advocacy of organizations of persons with disabilities, in line with the CRPD Committee’s general comment No. 7 (2018). Responsive to OPDs demands, the CRPD Committee recommended the State to “[d]evelop and implement institutionalized procedures for close consultation with, and active involvement of, organizations of persons with disabilities, including organizations of children with disabilities, in all matters affecting them, set the standards governing these procedures…”. Secondly, the Committee recommended to “[s]trengthen the capacity of organizations of persons with disabilities…and to ensure that funding is not solely project-based and may be accessed without undue administrative hurdles.”

To expand OPDs and NGOs’ possibilities, the Committee requested Germany to “[r]eview the statutory bases of the right of associations to take legal action, to enforce the rights under the Convention, at the Federal and Länder levels, to enact a generally applicable right of associations to take legal action, provide effective remedies beyond merely declaratory judgments, and remove undue burdens such as the risk of prohibitive litigation costs and excessive admissibility requirements”. Such elements gain in potential when the Committee also recommended to Germany, “[i]n particular its courts, to determine the justiciability of the provisions of the Convention, including rights subject to progressive realization based on article 4 para. 2 of the Convention...”.

During the dialogue, it was made clear that the reliance on sheltered workshops for persons with disabilities remained unchanged since the first review of the State. The Committee had to insist on its recommendation to develop an action plan to promote the transition of persons with disabilities in sheltered workshops to the open labor market across the Länder.

Israel: The Convention must underpin the mandate of the Shapira Committee in education

At Israel’s first review, while the CRPD acknowledged reforms taken since the ratification of the Convention, it also raised many gaps in terms of CRPD implementation. In connection to Article 4(3) of the CRPD, concerned with the exclusion of organizations of persons with disabilities, the Committee recommended to “[e]stablish criteria for close consultation and active involvement of persons with disabilities through their representative organizations providing for accessible information and methodologies of engagement, including information of discussions at the Knesset”. The Committee stressed adequate timeframes and ensuring due weight and genuine consideration of the views of persons with disabilities, including at discussions of the Shapira Committee at the Ministry of Education.

Regarding the right to liberty (Article 14 of the CRPD), the CRPD committee recommended the “[w]ithdraw of the provisions in the Criminal Procedure Law 5742-1982, the Treatment of Persons with Mental Disabilities Law and the Youth Care and Supervision Law (5720-1969) that provide for institutionalization on the basis of impairment”. The Committee also urged the government to “[d]evelop a system of support in the community for children and adults, including children and adults with intellectual disabilities and persons with psychosocial disabilities”.

In line with OPDs’ demand in written contributions, the need for accessing inclusive education (article 24 CRPD) was identified by the Committee as requiring urgent action. The Committee urged the State to develop a strategy for the transition from special education to quality inclusive education for all children with disabilities, including by ensuring that the Convention underpins the mandate of the Shapira Committee.


Malawi: Review of the Disability Act 2012 and harmonization of laws with the Convention a priority for the country

Malawi’s first interaction with the Committee included a call for an enabling legal framework that would facilitate the implementation of the rights of persons with disabilities. Thus, the Committee recommended the State to review several laws including the 2012 Disability Act and the 1971 Handicapped Persons Act of 1971, and enact a new disability bill, with the involvement of organizations of persons with disabilities.

The CRPD Committee recommended a range of measures addressing policy and legal reforms related to women with disabilities. Specifically, the government was urged to “[m]ainstream the rights of women and girls with disabilities into the new Persons with Disabilities Bill 2023, the 2013 Gender Equity Act, the 2011 Deceased Estates (Wills, Inheritance, and Protection) Act, and policies to combat gender-based violence.”Also, concerned about the high prevalence of violence against children with disabilities, the CRPD Committee recommended that the government “[e]xpeditiously investigates cases of sexual abuse against children with disabilities in special schools and in other settings, hold perpetrators accountable and raise awareness among parents, school personnel and the community about the gravity of these conducts”. The Committee further called for reparations for children affected by acts of violence, immediate closure of special education settings, and periodic monitoring of all facilities designed for persons with disabilities, including special schools.

As a matter of priority, the Committee recommended that the government address recommendations on the enactment of the new disability Act, the implementation of the rights of women, the establishment of a focal point for CRPD implementation, and the strengthening of independent mechanisms.


Mauritania: The need to enhance the capacity of stakeholders and the participation of OPDs to motorize CRPD implementation

As is the case for most of the first States’ reviews, despite some recent developments (e.g., Decree No.169 on accessibility and the Strategy on Persons with Disabilities 2022–2030), the CRPD Committee identified many gaps and challenges ahead for CRPD implementation in Mauritania. A major one is the “[l]ack of awareness among policymakers, judges, prosecutors, teachers, and medical, health and other professionals working with persons with disabilities, about the rights recognized in the Convention,” which led the Committee to recommend to strengthen their capacities “[o]n the rights of persons with disabilities and the obligations of the State party under the Convention, and involve organizations of persons with disabilities in the design and implementation of training for public officials.”

The strong need for swift legal harmonization with the CRPD has been a salient point of the dialogue and of the Concluding Observations. The Committee recommended Mauritania to “[h]armonize its Constitution, as well as its legal and policy framework on disability, with the provisions of the Convention, by integrating the human rights model of disability in its laws, regulations and practices” as well as to “[r]epeal all sections in the legislation, policies, and regulations that use derogatory terms, and ensure that they conform with the human rights model of disability.”

Access to subsidized health care depends on holding a Disability Card, but only 13% of persons with disabilities have the card. That is why, under Article 25 of the CRPD, the Committee recommended Mauritania to “[s]implify the administrative measures for obtaining the Disability Card and for becoming affiliated with the social security system, while also establishing regional and local bodies to facilitate the application and issuance of the Disability Card”.


Mongolia: strengthen and implement mechanisms for the effective involvement of organizations of persons with disabilities in decision-making processes

At this second review of Mongolia, the CRPD Committee verified that most of the previous recommendations had not been implemented. As one structural element to motorize national implementation, they stressed the importance of strengthening and implementing “[m]echanisms for the effective involvement of persons with disabilities, through their representative organizations, in public decision-making processes”, in all their diversity.

On awareness raising, an issue that had consistently been raised by the OPDs, the Committee recommended a range of measures including “[r]egular training and awareness-raising modules about the human rights model of disability and the rights of persons with disabilities at all levels of education, for policymakers, the judiciary, law enforcement officials, the media, the politicians, educators, professionals working with and for persons with disabilities, as well as for the general public, in all accessible formats.” Recognizing the vital role of persons with disabilities in awareness raising, the Committee recommended that such initiatives should include the active involvement of persons with disabilities.

Regarding women with disabilities, the Committee called for legislative reforms and mainstreaming of disability in gender policies and programs. Specifically, the Committee recommended that the government mainstream the rights of women and girls with disabilities in the Law on Gender Equality. Additionally, the Committee recommended that women and girls with disabilities be at the center of these reforms and that they get actively involved, through their representative organizations, in the design and implementation of gender- and disability-related policies and programs.


Paraguay: A focal point with a broad mandate but limited operations and delayed legal reforms

The second review of Paraguay took place just two weeks after a change of national administration. Nevertheless, the State delegation was composed of public officials working on disability issues for years at the National Secretary of Disability (SENADIS).

Brought by the OPDs alternative report, a major point discussed was the role of SENADIS which, while on paper is mandated to promote and protect the rights of persons with disabilities generally, in practice it focuses on rehabilitation and benefits with an outdated approach. Indeed, the Committee recommended the State to “[p]rovide SENADIS with sufficient resources to effectively fulfill its role of mainstreaming the human rights approach to disability in the design and implementation of public policies, through monitoring, supervision and technical assistance to the relevant sectors, and that the welfare functions be transferred to the Ministry of Social Development.”

As was the case in 2013 at the first review, there is still no legislation in force protecting persons with disabilities from discrimination in line with the CRPD. Despite this point being included in point 6.3 of the National Disability Action Plan, congress has still not approved any anti-discrimination legal framework. That is why the CRPD Committee recommended Paraguay to “[a]dopt, as soon as possible, the law against all forms of discrimination that incorporates multiple and intersectional forms of discrimination, including discrimination against indigenous persons with disabilities, the concept of reasonable accommodation in different settings, and recognizes the denial of reasonable accommodation as discrimination on the basis of disability.”