Petri Gábor:

Human rights and the disabled people’s movement - A critical analysis

2019/1 | DOI: 10.31287/

The disabled people’s movement has increasingly used the language of human rights. The adoption of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and consequent national laws have further enhanced this trend. Yet, we have little evidence to prove that human rights are widely accepted and used by disability advocates.
Although human rights have been repeatedly criticised by leading disability theorists and advocates, dialogue between promoters and critiques of human rights seems to be lacking.
The article provides a critical analysis of disability human rights, based on empirical data from two countries, the UK and Hungary. The analysis looks at how disability advocates see human rights instruments. Participants were people with solid experience in autism and learning disability advocacy, including professional advocates, parent-advocates and self-advocates on the autism spectrum and/or with a learning disability.
Results show that – consistently between the two countries – human rights are usually seen as vague and distant ideas that make minimal impact on everyday lives of disabled people. Most advocates rarely use human rights tools in their advocacy.
Knowledge about human rights laws and instruments are low across all participant groups, in both countries.
The article asserts that disability advocacy goes well beyond what is seen to be human rights advocacy or advocacy for the implementation of the CRPD. The article also claims that current literature often seeks to understand the global disability movement by employing theoretical models designed to understand disability advocacy movements in Western Europe and North America. These models are not universal. The article calls for further research with renewed scope, into the history and the present state of the disability movement in Hungary and Eastern Europe.
The article is based on a doctoral research supported by the Tizard Scholarship, University of Kent.