International Disability Rights

Staff meet and work regularly with international visitors to the United States, and have conducted civil rights workshops, trainings and consultation in Japan, Vietnam, Guam, Palau, Russia, Germany, Bosnia, Wales, Israel, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. We have developed workshops and provided consultation in these countries in collaboration with disability, governmental and relief organizations in the United States, including Mobility International USA (MIUSA), the World Institute on Disability (WID), the former President’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities (PCPD), the U.S. State Department, and the International Rescue Committee (IRC). DREDF staff have also provided training and consultation at the direct request of leaders with disabilities from various countries.

DREDF specializes in working with emerging leaders with disabilities and parents who are developing strategies for social change in their countries and locales. Workshops, training and consultation topics and content are tailored to meet the needs these leaders identify. Topics can include coalition building, issues and goals identification, leadership development, use of media, role of the rule of law, strategies for self empowerment, and potential approaches to legal reforms in light of local and regional circumstances.

International Disability Rights Laws

snippet of disability laws mapSince 2000, we have collected country-based laws that protect the rights of individuals with disabilities. DREDF is providing this collection of laws in order to foster sharing of information and encourage the international dialogue on disability anti-discrimination. We have made every effort to collect up-to-date and accurate information based on existing written and Internet sources, but we make no guarantee, undertaking or warranty regarding the accuracy, completeness or currency of the materials published herein. In all cases, users are referred to official legislative and parliamentary publications for the original legal texts and language.

International Disability Rights News

DREDF Deeply Disappointed by US Senate Opposition to Global Disability Rights Treaty (February 19, 2013)

From Principles to Practice

From Principles to practice logo

An International Disability Law and Policy Symposium
October 22-26 2000

Papers conceived and Commissioned by the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund

United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (CRPD)

Responding to increasing pressure from the international disability community, the U.N. General Assembly adopted on December 19, 2001 a resolution to create an Ad Hoc Committee “to consider proposals for a comprehensive and integral international convention to protect and promote the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities,” a resolution that was first passed by the General Assembly’s Third Committee on November 28, 2001.

Momentum towards achieving a convention built with the passage of a Resolution on a comprehensive and integral international Convention to promote and protect the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities by the Commission for Social Development. The Resolution recommended the adoption of the convention by the U.N.’s high–level Economic and Social Council, including the convention’s requirement for ECOSOC to remain apprised of the matter.

At its Eighth session, held on August 14 – 25, 2006, the Ad Hoc Committee adopted the draft text of the Convention including an optional protocol, as a whole, without a vote. The Ad Hoc Committee decided to establish an open-ended drafting group tasked with ensuring uniformity of terminology throughout the text of the draft convention and harmonizing the versions in the official languages of the United Nations. The drafting group reported on the results of its work to a resume session of the Ad Hoc Committee held during the sixty-first session of the General Assembly in order to enable the Ad Hoc Committee to forward the finalized text of the convention to Assembly for final adoption. The Plenary of the General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) on December 13, 2006.

Advocates have maintained that while existing U.N. human rights treaties, which increasingly have been interpreted as encompassing disability, offer significant potential to advance the rights of individuals with disabilities, these general treaties have been widely underutilized in the area of disability discrimination. The process of recasting disability policy internationally from the charity or medical model to the social model unquestionably would accelerate if human rights instruments were employed more frequently on behalf of people with disabilities. The Disability Convention, however, will unequivocally establish and elevate disability to its rightful place as an internationally recognized and enforceable human rights concern.

Professor Gerard Quinn of the Law Faculty at NUI, Galway has been elected to two prestigious committees in recognition of his work on international disability law.

Professor Quinn, who is a member of the Irish Human Rights Commission, has been made the ‘focal point’ for the work of National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) on disability. NHRIs are composed of human rights commissions or similar bodies from around the world and are co–ordinated by an International Coordinating Committee based in the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva.

Costa Rica

Training Program for the Social, Economic, Political, and Cultural Strengthening of People with Disabilities in Costa Rica

With funding from the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs DREDF and El Foro por Los Derechos Humanos de las Personas con Discapacitad (“El Foro”), an umbrella disability organization based in San Jose, Costa Rica, collaborated on The Training Program for the Social, Economic, Political, and Cultural Strengthening of People with Disabilities in Costa Rica or “Taller para el fortalecimiento social, económic, politico y cultural de las personas con discapacidad”, December 2-7, 2001 in San José, Costa Rica.

For the program, thirty grassroots activists with disabilities from all regions of Costa Rica met in San José with trainers from DREDF for a six-day workshop on legal rights, media relations, advocacy, and independent living. This was the first time in the history of Costa Rica that disability advocates from various regions joined together to plan a model for further integration and participation in society.

The meeting was hosted by El Foro, perhaps the first cross-disability, rights-oriented organization to form in Costa Rica. Representing many disability NGOs, virtually all regions of the country, and a diversity of disability constituencies, the delegates developed strategies for implementing Ley 7600, a sweeping but inadequately-enforced disability nondiscrimination law that was enacted in Costa Rica in 1996. Ley 7600 takes its inspiration from both the 1990 ADA and the 1993 U.N. Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities. The priority issue for the growing movement of people with disabilities in Costa Rica is to enforce Ley 7600’s prohibition on disability discrimination in transportation, education, employment, housing, and architectural access.

The workshop played an important role in strengthening the network of Costa Ricans dedicated to human rights for people with disabilities. The impromptu theme of the historic gathering was Si, Se Puede! or Yes, it is possible! reflecting the can-do attitude of all who attended. The meeting of leaders set the stage for ongoing collaboration involving the development of training materials on Ley 7600 for activists and legal professionals, a parent training curriculum, and further international meetings and exchanges among disability rights advocates.

Costa Rican Women with Disabilities Leadership Project

With funding from the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs DREDF conducted the Costa Rican Women with Disabilities Leadership Project held September 4-14, 2002 in Berkeley, California and December 3-8, 2002 in San José, Costa Rica. The meetings marked the first time in Costa Rican history that women with disabilities have established an agenda to advocate actively on behalf of their issues.

Working closely with colleagues from DREDF, the 2002 Costa Rican Women with Disabilities Leadership Project undertook activities in two parts. The first was a week long visit to the San Francisco Bay Area by four women leaders of El Foro por Los Derechos Humanos de las Personas con Discapacidad (El Foro) to explore the work of the many disability rights NGOs in Berkeley, Oakland, and San Francisco. The second part was a five-day meeting that took place in San José, Costa Rica in December 2002 and included twenty Costa Rican women leaders with disabilities from throughout the country and three U.S. women with disabilities. The focus was on developing and refining leadership skills, and included segments on legal rights and advocacy, movement-building strategies, fund-raising, and media communications. Gender and disability issues such as violence, family rights, overprotection, and sexuality were also addressed.

Building upon the success of the December 2001 project, The Training Program for the Social, Economic, Political, and Cultural Strengthening of People with Disabilities in Costa Rica, disabled women came together to organize themselves as leaders to promote their individual and collective rights.

Both parts of the project served many important functions and yielded important outcomes, including solidifying the relationship between DREDF and El Foro. This ongoing collaboration will be strengthened as an emerging network of international grassroots organizations continues to exchange strategies, tools and techniques with the goal of full integration of people with disabilities into all of our communities.

South Africa

At the invitation of South African leaders with disabilities and policy makers, DREDF staff provided on-site consultation to assist in the development of regulations requiring accessible public transportation pursuant to constitutional provisions barring discrimination against people with disabilities.


At the invitation of the U.S. State Department and other U.S. government organizations, DREDF staff worked with community leaders and policy makers in Vietnam to discuss implementation and enforcement of the country’s disability civil rights law.


At the invitation of Japanese leaders with disabilities, DREDF staff consulted with and trained representatives from disability organizations in five Japanese cities on topics ranging from coalition building and individual empowerment to strategies for creating and implementing national disability rights laws and regulations.


At the invitation of the International Rescue Committee, and in collaboration with Mobility International, USA (MIUSA), DREDF staff organized a civil rights strategy workshop in Tuzla, Bosnia for forty advocates with disabilities and parents from the Republic of Serpska and the Bosnian Federation.

More Resources!

More International Disability Rights Resources