August 19, 2003 --
This year, 2003, is the European Year of People with Disabilities. And there have been a number of initiatives undertaken concerning disability rights internationally this year. Earlier this summer, the Mental Disability Advocacy Center submitted a report to the European Parliament on the use of locked cage beds in psychiatric institutions and social care homes in countries across Europe. The MDAC "promotes and protects human rights of people with mental health problems and/or intellectual disabilities in 28 countries of central and eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union and Mongolia," according to its website; Read the Cage Beds report is online.
That same month, Ralph Boyd, U.S. assistant attorney general for civil rights, told a United Nations committee drafting a treaty on world-wide disability rights that the U. S. would support the panel in its work, but would not sign the final document; that the administration believed such rights should be covered by national measures (such as the Americans with Disabilities Act. ) Boyd's statement was a disappointment to those involved in international disability right issues. "The administration seems to have chosen to overlook the difference between human rights and civil rights," said activist Marta Russell. Read Russell's report from Ragged Edge online. Visit the U.N.'s Persons with Disabilities website.
The Center for International Rehabilitation and Disabled Peoples' International have released a first-ever report that provided a comparative analysis of the living conditions and legal protections for people with disabilities in 52 countries around the world.This is the first publication of the International Disability Rights Monitor, which plans to "observe and report on the human rights of people with disabilities worldwide." More about the Monitor.
Other resources for international networking:
Disability Networking Across Borders, an initiative created by the National Clearinghouse on Disability and Exchange (NCDE), is a forum for disability organizations and individuals working in the disability field to discover and network with counterparts around the world. The project features an international online bulletin board .
U.S. International Council on Disability (originally established as the U.S. member organization of Rehabilitation International).