Report on awareness raising under article 8 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
17 December 2019
To the HRC at its 43rd session, 6 March 2020
In its Resolution 37/22, the Human Rights Council requested the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to submit its annual thematic study on the rights of persons with disabilities prior to its forty-third session focusing on article 8 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
For the first time in the international legal framework, awareness raising is considered in a stand-alone provision. The prominence given to awareness raising is a consequence of the experience gained over the years in human rights implementation that shows that legal frameworks on their own are insufficient to bring about the changes in culture and attitudes that are necessary for the enjoyment of rights. In addition, awareness raising is key to combat stereotypes that lead to discrimination against persons with disabilities.
Awareness raising has different dimensions that need to be properly identified to achieve effective changes in society. According to existing research awareness raising programmes need to reflect this multidimensional perspective in connection to the objective behind each action. In order to achieve this, people working on awareness raising need to understand the stigma, stereotypes and prejudice that usually operate on persons with disabilities and define the purpose of the programme and the target audience. Empowerment of persons with disabilities through guaranteeing their access to information on their rights is key, and this could be achieved through different communication strategies, including massive campaigns. Nevertheless, societal change requires attitude-changing programmes that have their particularities when it comes to persons with disabilities. In addition, media has an important role to play both to communicate from a human rights perspective and to portray persons with disabilities in their real dimension.
The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities recognizes the importance of awareness raising and promotes an approach to it that provides for raising awareness throughout society, including at the family level, regarding persons with disabilities, and to foster respect for their rights and dignity; combating stereotypes, prejudices and harmful practices relating to persons with disabilities, including those based on sex and age, in all areas of life; and promoting awareness of the capabilities and contributions of persons with disabilities.
In order to implement article 8 of the Convention, States should undertake steps and implement measures aiming at initiating and maintaining effective public awareness campaigns designed to nurture receptiveness to the rights of persons with disabilities, positive perceptions and greater social awareness towards them; promote recognition of the skills, merits and abilities of persons with disabilities, and of their contributions to the workplace and the labour market; fostering at all levels of the education system, including in all children from an early age, an attitude of respect for the rights of persons with disabilities; encouraging all organs of the media to portray persons with disabilities in a manner consistent with the purpose of the Convention; and promoting awareness-training programmes regarding persons with disabilities and the rights of persons with disabilities.
In preparation of the study, OHCHR invited States and relevant stakeholders to present submissions by transmitting a set of questions related to existing legislation and policies regarding awareness raising concerning persons with disabilities. As a result, OHCHR received the responses listed below.
National Human Rights Institutions
NGOs and Civil Society Organizations