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THE 2017 CHINA-EUROPE HUMAN RIGHTS SEMINAR
July 25,2017   By:chinahumanrights.org
VRIJE UNIVERSITTEIT AMSTERDAM
 
THE 2017 CHINA-EUROPE HUMAN RIGHTS SEMINAR
 
Sen. Alessandro Maran
 
The first ever World report on disability, produced jointly by WHO and the World Bank, suggests that more than a billion people in the world today experience disability. 
 
People with disabilities are among the most marginalised groups in the world. People with disabilities have poorer health outcomes, lower education achievements, less economic participation and higher rates of poverty than people without disabilities. People with disabilities are also often deprived of their right to live independently, as many are locked up in institutions, shackled, or cycled through the criminal justice system. Many of these human rights abuses are a result of entrenched stigma and a lack of community-based services essential to ensuring their rights, including under the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Our goal is to help change that, working closely together with disabled persons’ organisations and other partners.
 
Disability is now understood to be a human rights issue. People are disabled by society, not just by their bodies. These barriers can be overcome, if governments, nongovernmental organisations, professionals and people with disabilities and their families work together.
 
In 2006, the Convention on the rights of person with disabilities marks the development from the medical model, centred on the medical aspects of disability, to the social model, which focuses on human rights, on the needs of each individual, and places the 《problem》 of disability not anymore in the person but into the society. The state and civil society have the duty of taking into consideration the different abilities and needs derived from physical, psychological, mental or sensory deficiencies. The debate on the rights of persons with disabilities has become a wider debate on the place that difference occupies in society and the role of the state in the integration of this difference. The ultimate objective of this social perspective of human rights is to make societies ready for integration, valuing difference and respecting the values of human dignity and equality. 
 
From a regulatory perspective, disability in Italy has been the subject of a number of reforms and measures of great importance starting in the late 1970s. Over the years there have been recognised and were agreed a number of basic rights for people with disabilities, from the right to education (and that is the inclusion in the regular school) to the integration into work of disadvantaged and disabled workers. 
 
Today, in view of the European demographic trend with a population that is, on average, growing increasingly older, an increase in the number of elderly people who are not self-sufficient can be also envisaged. At the same time, advances in scientific and technical knowledge, now offer new and better diagnostic tools and treatments. These developments constitute a growing need for real care and services. 
 
I shall refer briefly to the experiences of Italy with a couple (if needed) of case studies.
 
Disability involves also a question of justice touching the very foundation of the social bond: why do we have any special responsibilities towards disadvantaged people? Liberal-contractarian theories, focused on the citizens’ autonomy, do not consider handicap as a priority of justice, while the capability approach, the ethics of care and disability studies have paid attention to the problem. There is, however, a deeper anthropological issue underlying the political one. Any progress in favor of disabled people concerns our understanding of humanity. To answer the call for justice coming from disability, we have to rethink the way we see human condition, highlighting vulnerability as a common feature of all human beings.