National legislation is fundamental to ensure that persons with disabilities fully and effectively enjoy human rights on an equal basis with others. The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and the Arab Decade for Persons with Disabilities 2004-2013 require States to develop legislation that guarantees the rights of persons with disabilities on equal basis with others. The Convention specifically imposes an obligation on States parties to take all appropriate legislative and administrative measures to implement the rights recognized in the Convention, and to modify and abolish all laws, regulations, customs and practices that constitute discrimination against persons with disabilities.
This report is an exploratory study into the development of indicators for assessing the compliance of national legal frameworks in Arab countries with the CRPD requirements. It falls under larger ongoing efforts to support national and regional monitoring the progress of countries’ implementation of the CRPD in their legislative frameworks. This study proposes a set of compliance indicators to measure the compliance of laws to the CRPD and applies these indicators to the legal frameworks of four selected Arab countries. These indicators aim to measure the extent to which countries’ legal frameworks have been adjusted according to the word and spirit of the Convention, but do not examine how or whether these legal texts are implemented. Instead, the indicators are intended to reveal States’ commitment and intent to respect, protect and fulfill the rights of persons with disabilities as recognized in the Convention. Given that many countries adopted disability-related legal texts prior to the ratification of the Convention, indicators aim to allow for the identification of legal gaps that are not in compliance with the CRPD.
The report develops a limited set of indicators for three policy areas that are some of the most fundamental sectors for ensuring the full participation in society of persons with disabilities on equal basis with others, i.e. education, work and employment, and accessibility. Four countries representing the different Arab sub-regions and levels of development were selected to test the application of the compliance indicators, namely Lebanon, the Sudan, Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates. With the exception of Lebanon, all of the selected countries have ratified the Convention.
The study starts by providing a general overview of the legal frameworks related to disability in the selected countries. The report then develops a set of qualitative indicators that aim at measuring the compliance of national legal frameworks with the CRPD in the areas of education, employment and accessibility. It then continues to apply these indicators to the legal framework of the selected countries.
The proposed indicators in this study are qualitative structural indicators that are formulated in accordance with the SMART characteristic and measure the quality of national laws and regulations. They aim to measure the existence of constitutional and legal provisions that reflect compliance with the main CRPD’s requirements in the three selected areas without addressing public policies and institutional frameworks related to the implementation of the relevant rights. The indicators were formulated after identifying the main attributes of the right to education, the right to work and employment and the principle of accessibility as formulated by the Convention.
The right to education, as framed by Article 24 of the Convention translates a clear commitment to the principles of inclusive education and quality education. Indicators were developed to measure the compliance of the national legal frameworks with the CRPD requirements to ensure the right of access to education and the right to quality education for persons with disabilities and to guarantee accessibility in education and the respect for rights within education for persons with disabilities.
The right to work and employment, as framed by Article 27 of the Convention, guarantees the right to the opportunity to gain a living by work freely chosen or accepted in a labor market and a work environment that is open, inclusive and accessible to persons with disabilities. Indicators were developed to measure the compliance of the national legal framework with the CRPD’s requirements to prohibit discrimination in the access to employment, to guarantee accessibility in employment, to provide reasonable accommodation in employment and to promote the employment of persons with disabilities through positive measures.
Accessibility, as framed in Article 9 of the Convention, is viewed as a fundamental right for the enjoyment of all other rights guaranteed in the Convention, including the right to education and the right to employment. It requires the removal of all barriers to the physical and social environment that prevent persons with disabilities to participate fully in society. Indicators were developed to measure the compliance of the national legal frameworks with the CRPD requirements to recognize accessibility as a right for persons with disabilities and to guarantee accessibility to the physical environment, to transport, to other facilities and services open or provided to the public and to information and communications.
The application of these compliance indicators to the legal frameworks of the selected Arab countries revealed that none of these legal frameworks were in full compliance with the requirements of the CRPD in the three selected areas. Upon application of the indicators to the legal framework of the selected countries, a compliance value was assigned to each legal framework measuring the extent of its compliance with the CRPD’s requirements. The legal framework of the United Arab Emirates reached the highest overall compliance value while the legal framework of the Sudan reached the lowest value. In the sector of education, the legal frameworks of the United Arab Emirates and of Lebanon reached the highest compliance value while the framework of Tunisia obtained the lowest value. In the area of employment and accessibility, the legal framework of Tunisia reached the highest compliance value while the frameworks of Lebanon and the Sudan reached the lowest value.
Even though many of the requirements of the CRPD may be implemented in practice, the examination of the legal frameworks of the selected countries reflected the complex challenges posed by the Convention. The several legal gaps identified in this study highlight the continued efforts required by State Parties in order to achieve compliance with the CRPD.
The formulation of the indicators was facilitated by the fact that the CRPD contains detailed and specific provisions that aim to guarantee the rights of persons with disabilities. Care was given to formulate indicators that would be measurable though a review of the legal framework, without the need to dig deeper into administrative instructions and regulation that rules the implementation of laws. This required to disregard the CRPD provisions that require States to take practical measures that are more likely to be included in administrative instructions and would therefore be better measured through process or outcome indicators. The application of the indicators also revealed some difficulties that mainly resulted from the need to interpret relevant legal clauses in order to conclude whether or not they were in compliance with the Convention.
On the basis of these findings, the report recommends the selected Arab countries to review their national legal frameworks to ensure compliance with the Convention and to adopt necessary legislative and administrative measures guaranteeing the standards of the Convention in the area of education, work and employment and accessibility.