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Protection of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Under the Framework of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
July 12,2018   By:CSHRS

 Protection of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Under the Framework of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

ZHAO Mingxia* & ZHANG Xiaoling**

 

Abstract: The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is a manifesto for the rights of the disabled. It establishes the values and concepts, the guidelines for action, and the system of rules for the protection of the rights of persons with disabilities worldwide. As one of the main drafting countries and the first signatories of the Convention, China has been actively implementing the principles of the Convention and faithfully fulfilling the responsibilities of a signatory party, and has made great achievements in building up its legal system, policy and culture. However, compared with the goals of the Convention, there still exist some gaps in rights awareness, social environment and related systems. Guided by the spirit of the Convention, and taking into account China’s national conditions, the country will continue to cultivate its human rights culture, upgrade its capability to provide public services for people with disabilities, improve the construction of barrier-free environments, guarantee the full realization of the survival, development and participation rights of the disabled, and establish a new mode of protecting the human rights of persons with disabilities in China.

Keywords: Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities ♦ Rights Survival and Development Participation
 

The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (hereinafter referred to as the Convention) was adopted by consensus during the 61th General Assembly of the United Nations in December 2006. As the first legally binding international convention aimed at protecting the rights of persons with disabilities and promoting the development of the human rights cause of persons with disabilities passed in the history of the UN, it has been widely approved and implemented all around the world. China fully participated in the drafting of the Convention, and it was among the first signatories. It upholds the spirit of the Convention and strives to faithfully performs its duties as a signatory. In the past decade, great achievements have been made in protection of the rights of persons with disabilities and the institutional mode of protecting rights of persons with disabilities with Chinese characteristics has taken shape.

General Secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee Xi Jinping stressed during his meeting with representatives rewarded at the Fifth National Honoring Ceremony for Self-reliance Models and Collectives and Individuals Offering Assistance to the Disabled in May 2014, “Persons with disabilities are equal members of the social family as well as an important force for pushing forward the development of human civilization, adhering to and developing socialism with Chinese characteristics, and promoting reform, development, and stability”1. It is a scientific definition of the Party for the social value of persons with disabilities and a new interpretation of the human rights concept for persons with disabilities and guideline for development of the cause of persons with disabilities in modern times.

 

Ⅰ. The Convention Established the International Standard for Protection of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

As one of the important milestones in the development of international human rights protection in the 21st century, the Convention is committed to the promotion of persons with disabilities enjoying full and equal human rights and fundamental freedoms, so it provides value criteria and fundamental norms for the protection of the rights of persons with disabilities and shows important practical guiding significance.

A. The Convention establishes the fundamental values for protection of the rights of persons with disabilities

Prior to the Convention, the UN had already adopted a number of human rights conventions, yet those merely generally stipulated that all people have equal human rights or indirectly related to the rights of persons with disabilities. In addition, they consider the issue of persons with disabilities as something relevant to social health and welfare. With the development of human civilization and the value of human rights, it is realized that the universality of human rights not only means the wide enjoyment of economic, political, social, and cultural rights but also relates to the equality of all members of the society in enjoyment of human rights to guarantee that all members of society can enjoy the rights to participate in social development and share the achievements of development. Upholding the value on the universality of human rights, the Convention for the first time defines disability: “disability results from the interaction between persons with impairments and attitudinal and environmental barriers that hinders their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others”
2. Disability reflects the diversity of humanity, so there is merely society with disability not a group with disability, which establishes the modern concept of the human rights of persons with disabilities. Accordingly, the Convention clarifies that persons with disabilities are equal subjects of social life rather than the objects of medical treatment and social welfare and assistance and its purpose is “to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities, and to promote respect for their inherent dignity.”3 Meanwhile, the Convention further emphasizes that countries and society should actively create conditions to guarantee equal opportunities in social participation and development for persons with disabilities and avoid greater social inequity resulting from physical disability. Protecting the rights of persons with disabilities is not only an ethical responsibility that cannot be shirked by the society, but also an important responsibility of all countries and governments. It directly reflects the treatment of a country and nation to the dignity and value of its citizens.

B. The Convention establishes the guidelines for protection of the rights of persons with disabilities

Article 3 specifies eight general principles for state parties to follow, including respect for inherent dignity, individual autonomy; non-discrimination; full and effective participation and inclusion in society; respect for differences; equality of opportunity; accessibility; equality between men and women; respect for the abilities of children with disabilities to gradually develop and respect for the right of children with disabilities to preserve their identities. The details of the Convention are closely related to the eight interconnected general principles which constitute the guideline for protection of the rights of persons with disabilities together.

The theme of the Convention is to respect and protect the rights of persons with disabilities as equal social subjects and eliminate obstacles to their participation into social development. The value of equality and freedom is highlighted from the beginning to the end. The first principle stresses the respect for individual autonomy of persons with disabilities as the premise for persons with disabilities to own their rights in social or legal life.4 “Non-discrimination” emphasizes “no discrimination on the basis of disability,”5 which is the basic requirement to guarantee that all human rights and fundamental freedom of persons with disabilities can be recognized, enjoyed, and exercised. “Full and effective participation and inclusion in society” of persons with disabilities means that persons with disabilities, both as a group and individuals, should widely participate in social production and life, which is the practical objective for realizing the rights of persons with disabilities. Respecting differences and providing “accessible” environment and “reasonable and convenient” conditions for the employment, life and study of persons with disabilities is the primary responsibility of state parties. The seventh and eighth principles re-emphasize equality between men and women while respecting the abilities of children with disabilities to gradually develop and the provision of special protection.

C. The Convention establishes the rule system for protection of the rights of persons with disabilities

The Convention not only specifies the basic rights of persons with disabilities but also elaborates on the expectation and requirements for governments and society, which constitutes the rule system for protection of the rights of persons with disabilities. On one hand, the Convention confirms the rights of persons with disabilities to enjoy social, economic and cultural rights, civil rights, political rights, and barrier-free development in detail. The civil and political rights include: enjoyment of right to life by persons with disabilities on an equal basis with others (article 10); enjoyment of legal capacity and capacity for action, including property rights, equal recognition before the law (article 12); the enjoyment of liberty and security (article 13, 14); the enjoyment of liberty of movement and nationality, freedom of expression and opinion, respect for privacy, and the right and opportunity to vote and be elected (articles 18, 21, 22, and 29). The social, economic, and cultural rights include :independent living and integration into the community (article 19); freedom of expression and opinion, and access to information (article 21); respect for home and the family (article 23); education (article 24); health (article 25); habilitation and rehabilitation (article 26); work and employment (article 27); adequate standards of living and social protection (article 28). Barrier-free development rights include accessibility (article 9); participation in political and public life (article 29); and participation in cultural life, entertainment, leisure and sport activities (article 30).

On the other hand, the Convention clarifies the obligations of state parties, including general obligations (article 4) and specific measures which are demonstrated in the realization of different rights. The general obligations include: to adopt all appropriate legislative, administrative and other measures for the full realization of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all persons with disabilities and their economic, social and cultural rights; to adopt appropriate measures to ensure that persons with disabilities can equally use public transportation, information, communications technologies and systems, and other facilities and services; to adopt appropriate measures to ensure that persons with disabilities can equally enjoy rights to life, access to justice, freedom from torture and abuse, liberty of movement and nationality, and participation in political and public life; to adopt appropriate measures to protect and promote the rights of persons with disabilities to education, health, rehabilitation, employment, social security, and participation in cultural life and sport. The Convention also specifies the protection of women and children with disabilities (article 6 and 7).

Ⅱ. Significance of the Convention to the Protection of Rights of Persons with Disabilities

The Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress of China officially adopted the Convention in June 2008. The implementation of the Convention has greatly promoted the efforts to update the concepts of protection of rights of persons with disabilities and perfect laws and policies.

A. Further improvement of the regulation system and practice mode for protection of rights of persons with disabilities in China under the guidance of the Convention

The Convention requires all state parties to adopt all appropriate legislative, administrative and other measures to ensure human rights and fundamental freedoms for all persons with disabilities and the realization of their political, economic, social, and cultural rights. Being active in the implementation of the Convention, China has enriched and perfected the regulation system and practice mode for the protection of rights of persons with disabilities from law revision, policymaking, and concept popularization.

1. Gradual perfection of the legal system for protection of rights of persons with disabilities in China

China has focused closely on people's livelihoods and done a lot in developing the cause of persons with disabilities since reform and opening up. In 1991, China adopted the Law of the People's Republic of China on the Protection of Persons with Disabilities as the first legislation on the protection of persons with disabilities in the country, which was followed by the enforcement of Regulation on the Education of Persons with Disabilities and Regulation on the Employment of Persons with Disabilities. In addition, articles relevant to protection of persons with disabilities were added into a dozens of laws and regulations during their revision, including Electoral Law, Education Law, and Labor Law. The legal basis for protection of rights of persons with disabilities in China was preliminarily established. Later, “Respect and protect human rights” was included in the Constitution of the People's Republic of China in 2004 and the Convention was signed and adopted by China in 2007 and 2008 respectively, providing new momentum for promoting the rule of law relevant to the protection of rights of persons with disabilities.

The Law of the People's Republic of China on the Protection of Persons with Disabilities revised in April 2008 fully absorbed the spirit and requirements of the Convention. Highlighting the concept “for the rights of persons with disabilities”, the law established the principle that “it shall be prohibited to discriminate against persons with disabilities”, added and perfected articles on rehabilitation, education, employment, cultural life, social security, and a barrier-free environment for persons with disabilities, and enhanced legal liability for infringements upon the lawful rights and interests of persons with disabilities. Meanwhile, supporting laws and regulations such as the Regulation on the Education of Persons with Disabilities and Regulation on the Employment of Persons with Disabilities were revised and Regulation on the Construction of Barrier-Free Environments and Regulations on Disability Prevention and Recovery of the Disabled were issued to actually ensure the realization of the rights to education and employment of persons with disabilities and provide institutional guarantees for their equal and full participation into social life. Furthermore, new concepts on the rights of persons with disabilities have been gradually integrated into such laws as General Principles of the Civil Law of the People's Republic of China, Criminal Law of the People's Republic of China, Criminal Procedure Law of the People's Republic of China, Civil Procedure Law of the People's Republic of China, Labor Law of the People's Republic of China, Compulsory Education Law of the People's Republic of China, Employment Promotion Law of the People's Republic of China, Law of the People's Republic of China on the Protection of Women's Rights and Interests, Road Traffic Safety Law of the People's Republic of China, and Administrative License Law of the People's Republic of China in their amendments. Over 20 administrative regulations including Interim Measures for Social Assistance, Regulation on National Fitness, Measures on the Payment of Litigation Costs, Regulation on the Implementation of the Road Traffic Safety Law of the People's Republic of China, and Regulation on Public Cultural and Sports Facilities have gradually perfected articles on the protection of the rights of persons with disabilities. Such departmental rules as Measures of the General Administration of Customs of the People's Republic of China on the Implementation of Interim Measures for Exemption from the Import Duties on the Special-purpose Articles for the Disabled, Provisions on Employment Services and Employment Management (2015 Revision), Provisions on the Administration of Taxi Business Operations and Services, Rules on Waterway Passenger Transport (2014 Amendment), Measures for the Administration of Air Transport for the Disabled, and Measures for the Management of License for the Disabled have been revised. Accordingly, China has established a system of laws and regulations for the protection of the rights of persons with disabilities and development of the cause of persons with disabilities based on the Constitution which takes the Law of the People's Republic of China on the Protection of Persons with Disabilities as the fundamental law and covers laws, regulations, rules, and supporting measures. There are laws to abide by in the protection of rights of persons with disabilities. Meanwhile, the perfection of the legal system has effectively corrected society's outdated opinions on persons with disabilities and provided powerful measures to promote the protection of the rights of persons with disabilities.


2. Gradual establishment of a government-led implementation mechanism for protection of the rights of persons with disabilities

Governments are the major facilitators with principle responsibility in protection of the rights of persons with disabilities. China has included the cause of persons with disabilities into the plans for national and social development and issued relevant policies since 1980s. These plans and policies have played a major role in implementation of laws and regulations on the protection of the rights of persons with disabilities and keeping up with the times to promote the development of the cause of persons with disabilities in a planned way. So far, the Chinese government has formulated and implemented seven “Five-year Plans” for promoting the cause of persons with disabilities. It is worth mentioning that the 13th Five-year Plan (2016-20) includes the intensive introduction of policies promoting the development of the cause of persons with disabilities, including Opinions of the State Council on Establishing a Full Scale System of Living Subsidies for Persons with Disabilities with Financial Difficulties and Nursing Subsidies for Severe Persons with Disabilities, Notice on Preferential Taxation Policy to Promote Employment of Persons with Disabilities, Opinions on Accelerating the Development of Rehabilitation Aids Industry for the Disabled, Notice on Implementation of the Plan for Promoting Career Skills of Persons with Disabilities(2016-2020), Outline for Accelerating the Well-off of Persons with Disabilities during the 13th Five-year Plan Period, Opinions on Supporting Independent Employment and Entrepreneurship of Persons with Disabilities, and other regulatory documents.

The content of relevant plans and outlines show two features in the promotion of the development of the cause of persons with disabilities by the government according to laws and regulations. The first is that all plans and policy objectives meet the national economic and social development level and the practical demands of persons with disabilities and aim at creating positive conditions for them to participating in production and life. These measures are relevant to different aspects of the production and life of the country and society. Macro-measures include promotion of the employment and income increase of persons with disabilities and their families, improvement of the basic public service for persons with disabilities, and acceleration of service industry of persons with disabilities through giving full play to the social force and market mechanism. Detailed measures include providing active assistance in rehabilitation of persons with disabilities, encouraging them to receive vocational skills education through tuition exemption and establishment of special education schools, promoting the employment of persons with disabilities via unified arrangements, proportional employment, public welfare projects, individual employment, and so on, and the guarantee of the basic necessity of persons with disabilities through subsistence allowances, social insurance, social relief, and other measures. The second is that the policies and plans jointly constitute the coordination mechanism with multi-party participation to fully promote the development of the cause of persons with disabilities. The multiple subjects for the development of the cause of persons with disabilities include government departments, China Disabled Persons’ Federations, NGOs, media, and so on. They participate in the development of the cause of persons with disabilities together and promote the continuous improvement of social service system for persons with disabilities. For example, the Ministry of Education launched Provisions on Participation of Persons with Disabilities in the National College Entrance Examination (Interim) in April 2017 to provide reasonable convenience for persons with disabilities in college entrance examination. In June the same year, Tsinghua University actively responded to the demand to provide “reasonable convenience” to students with disabilities, which aroused wide attention. In July, seven ministries, including the Ministry of Education, issued the Plan for the Second Phase of Special Education Promotion (2017-2020) to make specific arrangements for the continuous improvement of the development level of special education.

3. Preliminary establishment of the modern value and purpose of the protection of the rights of persons with disabilities

There have been three stages for realizing the social value of persons with disabilities in China, namely the handicapped, the objects of relief and assistance, and those enjoying “equality, participation, and sharing”. Before the founding of the People's Republic of China, persons with disabilities had been considered as outcasts left to their fate under the influence of the feudal ideas. After the founding of the People's Republic of China, the government took measures to assist persons with disabilities on humanitarian grounds and the people were sympathetic and compassionate toward them, so the cause of persons with disabilities was considered as an important part of charity. In 1988, China Disabled Persons’ Federation was founded and the State Council promulgated the Outline for the Cause of the Disable Persons, which played a positive role in physical and psychological rehabilitation of persons with disabilities, yet they were still considered as a marginalized group. In 1991, the Law of the People's Republic of China on the Protection of Persons with Disabilities with “assistance, participation, and sharing” as the purpose was promulgated, marking an important period for China to transfer its emphasis from welfare and relief to protection of rights in the system for protection of the rights of persons with disabilities. The signing of the Convention in 2007 signaled the integration of the protection of rights of persons with disabilities in China into the international mechanism, which not only provided an appropriate beginning for the cultivation of modern human rights concepts but also accelerated the establishment of human rights concepts for persons with disabilities in China. In the 2008 revision of the Law of the People's Republic of China on the Protection of Persons with Disabilities, the civil rights of persons with disabilities are combined with their political, economic, social, and cultural rights, as well as the construction of a barrier-free environment, symbolizing the establishment of modern human rights and value concepts for persons with disabilities. Taking modern human civilization and human rights protection as the yardstick and “equality, participation, and sharing” as the core, the new value on persons with disabilities is of far-reaching significance for the elimination of prejudice and bias towards persons with disabilities in the traditional decadent ideas, establishment of the human rights spirits of freedom,equality, and fraternity, and construction of a harmonious society.

B. Practical problems to be overcome in the protection of right of persons with disabilities for realizing the objectives of the Convention

The Convention provides a complete framework for the protection of persons with disabilities and points out the direction for the development of the human rights cause of persons with disabilities in China. Nevertheless, limited by the national economic and social development situation, there are still many problems to be solved gradually for realizing the requirements and objectives of the Convention.

1. Existence of prejudice and discrimination against persons with disabilities among the public and limited recognition of the Convention and the law in the society

Prejudice and discrimination are direct barriers to persons with disabilities enjoying and exercising their rights equally as social subjects in employment, education, and daily life. The social progress and development, the discrimination against persons with disabilities has declined, yet recognition of the necessity to confirm and support the rights of persons with disabilities as equal social subjects should be improved. The prejudice and discrimination against persons with disabilities hasn't been instantly corrected with progress in establishing the rule of law.

Discrimination against persons with disabilities is rooted in the cognitive biases of the public over them and the absence of the awareness of rights of equal social subjects. Currently, there are still two attitudes towards persons with disabilities in the society. For some people, disabilities are considered as personal misfortune and the society belongs only to able-bodied people. They believe that persons with disabilities cannot adapt to society's demands and the competition environment. Since people holding this view think persons with disabilities should merely receive medical care and relief, they consider disabilities as diseases. In this case, persons with disabilities are passive in a society full of arrogance and compassion, so they become an isolated group in society. This concept denies their equal status, so it is a prejudice against persons with disabilities.

For some others, the issue of persons with disabilities is not about individuals but a social problem.6They believe that to a certain extent, it is such social factors as the prejudice of the public, backward technology, and imperfect system that result in the exclusion and isolation of persons with disabilities. However, as consciousness goes beyond practice and is limited by practice, the process from the new concept on persons with disabilities to the realization of their rights is always limited by the economic and material conditions and the level of scientific and technological development. With limited material conditions, the enlightenment of the public and the change of social atmosphere require not only to abandon narrow individualism but also greater efforts of the government and social organization to reform the system. As we all known, the discrimination against persons with disabilities in society has resulted in many negative consequences and risks. On the one hand, discrimination often causes depression and anxiety in persons with disabilities which could easily be shown in a hostile mentality and take revenge on the society as well as radical behavior that may endanger social stability. On the other hand, the survival and development of persons with disabilities has become one of the decisive factors in the process of building a harmonious and moderately well-off society. Discrimination against persons with disabilities causes social morbidity and undermines social justice.

2. Growing concern on the survival and development of persons with disabilities and demand for further implementation of the Convention and relevant laws

Realization of rights should be guaranteed by adaptable economic, social, and cultural condition. It is an arduous task to implement the rights stipulated in the Convention and laws to solve the problem of the livelihoods of persons with disabilities.

For the basic livelihoods of persons with disabilities, according to the analysis on current situation in Opinions of the State Council on Accelerating the Well-off Process of Persons with Disabilities, “among 85 million persons with disabilities in China, 12.30 million rural people are to be lifted out of poverty and 2.6 million urban people are facing great difficulties in life. There is still a great gap between the capital incomes of families of persons with disabilities and the average of society”.7Meanwhile, the special investigation into the basic service conditions and needs for persons with disabilities in the country, organized by the Disabled Persons Working Committee of the State Council in 2015,8showed that the greatest needs of persons with disabilities is still such basic living conditions as poverty relief, medical services, aid devices, rehabilitation training, while the need for accessibility to information was considered to be a “luxury”, especially in rural areas. Although China has established a preliminary social security and service system for persons with disabilities, it is still insufficient to get to the root of numerous problems concerning the livelihoods and development for persons with disabilities. The activities to support persons with disabilities in the past years are limited in coverage and there is still no effective mechanism for supporting and aiding persons with disabilities in the society. Meanwhile, as for the participation of persons with disabilities into social development, the “barriers” facing persons with disabilities include not only material ones in the traditional sense but also invisible barriers in information exchange and community service. These “barriers” limit the realization of the rights of persons with disabilities and their potential. Although such laws and regulations as the Law of the People’s Republic of China on the Protection of Persons with Disabilities and Regulation on the Construction of Barrier-Free Environments stipulate that “barrier-free environments” and “reasonable convenience” should be provided for the development of persons with disabilities, there are still many practical problems. For example, there is no barrier-free facilities for new roads and buildings or the construction of barrier-free facilities are not standard or systematic; the existing barrier-free facilities are not functional for absence of proper management, so that persons with disabilities could not enter buildings or take buses, trains, or planes; the blind tracks are occupied; those with hearing impairment could not communicate with others; those with visual impairment could not read books; the switches are too high to be reached; the sanitary equipment could not be used; and so on. In 2017, those with visual impairment were rejected by the national judicial examination again because there was no examination papers in braille. Relevant departments should actively examine these detailed problems according to corresponding laws and regulations and solve them one by one.

3. Insufficient supporting policies for protection of rights of persons with disabilities and demand for optimization and follow-up measures for implementation of the Convention and laws

Within the established legal framework, the innovation and perfection of a specific policy is restricted by objective factors like actual condition, timing, and so on, so it could hardly be systematic, perfect, or detailed in a short time, which is a prominent feature of the transition period. The absence of supply mechanism for supporting policies seriously influences the integrity of an equal policy system for persons with disabilities.

From the macro view, realization of the rights of persons with disabilities is relevant to different aspects of social production and life in the country, so the policy construction should be closely linked to other laws and regulations. However, there is still insufficient connection between the laws and regulations for protection of rights of persons with disabilities and other laws and regulations in the current situation. As a result, the legal rights of persons with disabilities are not given due attention, let alone realized. Meanwhile, there is a great gap between the implementation of laws relevant to persons with disabilities and specific institutional construction in the east
and the west and in rural areas and urban areas and regional development differences. Especially in western rural areas with large populations of persons with disabilities, high poverty indexes, and low satisfaction of the demands of persons with disabilities for work and social life, the effects of the implementation of laws and policies are not obvious. For the specific arrangement of policies, the implementation of preferential policies on education, medical services, and employment is different. There are still loopholes in these policies due to the absence of a mechanism for supervision and safeguarding of legal rights. Taking education and employment for example, the policy to arrange employment of persons with disabilities in proportion could hardly solve the in-depth problem of discrimination against them. Since the practical condition of the employer and working post is not considered, the policy is generally resisted. In the long term, it is harmful to persons with disabilities.

Ⅲ. Further Improvement of the Protection of Rights of Persons with Disabilities in China According to the Convention

At a time when socialism with Chinese characteristics has entered a new era and under the guidance of the human rights theory of socialism with Chinese characteristics, we should continue to implement the spirit and purpose of the Convention, cultivate modern human rights concepts, strictly enforce laws and regulations relevant to persons with disabilities, and optimize a supporting policy construction mechanism to create conditions conducive for persons with disability to participate in production and life equally, realize the value objective of “equality, participation, and sharing”, and promote the full development of the cause of persons with disabilities in China.

A. Promote the human rights concept of persons with disabilities in modern times and construct equal and harmonious social culture

Protection of the rights of persons with disabilities is an important part of the human rights cause in China. All people are created equal. The formation and establishment of human rights concept of persons with disabilities is a process from consciousness to practice and from principle to rule to finally take root. It is also a process for the gradual realization of the rational recognition of persons with disabilities by the society.

Modern human rights concepts for persons with disabilities should be established to eliminate the prejudice and discrimination against persons with disabilities. This involves two aspects. One is the popularizing of a human rights culture and establishing the rights of persons with disabilities as mainstream values for this. Persons with disabilities are significant subjects of social development. They could and should be able to determine their own lives like other members of the society. Therefore, prevention of persons with disabilities from participation into social development is an infringement on their human rights. While equal social position and value of persons with disabilities is fully affirmed, differences in the starting point of development resulting from their physical disabilities should be acknowledged. As a result, countries, governments, and the society should be responsible for providing “reasonable convenience” for persons with disabilities to participate in society to avoid the expansion of unfair starting point. As Deng Pufang once mentioned, “Showing merely compassion for persons with disabilities reveals the psychology to put them at an unequal position. It is the social responsibility of able-bodied people to understand and respect persons with disabilities as well as provide necessary support and aid to them”.9 The other is to integrate human rights concept of persons with disabilities into the overall social development layout and specific policy construction covering the economy, politics, society, culture, and ecology. The education, medical care, employment, and entrepreneurship of persons with disabilities and the service industry relevant to them should be taken as important contents of future social and economic development. Attention should be paid to protect the democratic participation of persons with disabilities into social and political life and the expression of their opinions and suggestions from the height of political construction.Multidimensional social subjects should participate in the development of the cause of persons with disabilities together to create a free, equal, just, and stable social environment. We should create a cultural atmosphere to facilitate the participation of persons with disabilities, enhance their sense of identity and belongings, and construct a socialist spiritual civilization. We should encourage persons with disabilities to widely participate in the construction of a “beautiful China” and “ecological civilization,” promote their integrate into social production and life, and drive society towards fairness, inclusiveness, and mutual benefit.

B. Promote the construction of social security and service system and maintain the rights to survival and development of persons with disabilities

Social security and public services are two major fields for the government to protect the fundamental rights and interests of persons with disabilities. In 2010, the State Council forwarded the Guiding Opinions on Accelerating the Construction of Social Security System and Service System for Persons with Disabilities to different ministries and required them to fully construct “two systems” for persons with disabilities. With the smooth progress of 12th Five-year Plan (2011-15) and 13th Five-year Plan (2016-20) the social security system covering insurance, assistance, and welfare for persons with disabilities and the public service system covering medical care, employment, and education have been improved. However, we should start from the highly efficient and organic combination of the human, financial, material, and management to further perfect detailed policies on construction of social security and public service system in order to fully improve the livelihoods of persons with disabilities and actually realize their rights to survival and development.

The first is to perfect the social security system for persons with disabilities. While realizing the connection between the social security system for persons with disabilities and the general social security system, a demand oriented flexible security system should be established. First, we should realize the shift from “utility properties” to “demand oriented” concept in promoting the social security of persons with disabilities. Because persons with visual, hearing, speech or physical disabilities, intellectual disability or multiple disabilities are diversified in their demands and needs, different measures should be taken in rehabilitation, education, and other aspects according to different demands within the overall system framework. Second, we should realize full coverage. While including persons with disabilities into the social security system covering urban and rural residents, we should provide customized support for special needs of persons with disabilities on the basis of their special state and the special difficulties facing them. The second is to improve the public service system for persons with disabilities. We should increase the investment into the cause of persons with disabilities with emphasis laid on the satisfaction of the basic needs of them from daily life, medical care, rehabilitation, education, and employment to let more persons with disabilities enjoy equal basic public service, especially for those with severe disabilities, those in rural areas, and children with disabilities. “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”. The policy to support the entrepreneurship of persons with disabilities is one of the major public services for them to realize employment, start an undertaking, or increase income. We should actively support the entrepreneurship of persons with disabilities from such aspects as tax exemption, fees reduction, and legal assistance. We should respect the rights to development of persons with disabilities to further realize equality of persons with disabilities in education, employment, and participation into social life. The third is to strengthen the construction of a long-term mechanism for social security system and service system for persons with disabilities, establish an investment and guarantee system with stable increases, and work together to lay a solid basis for pushing forward the long-term development of the cause of persons with disabilities.

C. Implement barrier-free environment construction to ensure equal rights to social participation of persons with disabilities

A barrier-free environment is the basic condition for persons with disabilities to equally participate in social life and the fundamental requirement for perfection of social public service system. The major concepts for construction of a barrier-free environment in the Convention include “reasonable convenience” and “general design”.The basic requirements for “accessibility” in the Convention include “accessibility to the physical, social, economic and cultural environment, to health and education and to information and communication”, which have been implemented in the Law of the People’s Republic of China on the Protection of Persons with Disabilities and Regulation on the Construction of Barrier-Free Environments.10 China is experiencing the gradual aging of its population. The barrier-free design for buildings and public places will benefit not only persons with disabilities but also those with special needs like the old, pregnant women, and children. The promulgation of the Regulations on the Construction of Barrier-Free Environments marked the shift from publicizing the need for the construction of barrier-free environments to legal guarantees. The construction of a sound system of barrier-free environments requires for the participation of multiple subjects and the guarantee of government policies. The key lies in the establishment of a long-term mechanism for its supervision, operation, and management.

The first is to raise the standards for the construction of barrier-free environments. We should take the construction of barrier-free construction as an important part of urban and rural planning and pay attention to the standardized design and construction from the perspective of regional integrated development to ensure the quality and quantity. The second is to improve the guarantee mechanism for barrier-free environments. It is stipulated in Article 5 of the Law of the People's Republic of China on the Protection of Persons with Disabilities that “The people's governments at and above the county level shall integrate the cause of Persons with Disabilities into the national economic and social development plan, intensify the leadership, make comprehensive coordination and incorporate the operating funds for the cause of Persons with Disabilities into the fiscal budget so as to establish a stable operating fund guarantee mechanism”. Therefore, governments at all levels and relevant design, construction, and supervision departments should fully consider the practical needs of the life and production of persons with disabilities within their duties to make barrier-free environment construction plan and fulfill the responsibility for providing fiscal, organizational, and supervisory guarantee in barrier-free environment construction.

In conclusion, China has actively fulfilled its responsibilities for the Convention in the past decade. Within the framework of the purpose and principles of the Convention, China has made great achievements in promoting the development of the cause of persons with disabilities, yet there is still a long way to go. To establish the correct human rights concepts for persons with disabilities, perfect the protection system for these rights, improve the participation of persons with disabilities in social life, and promote legal construction for protection of their rights is not only an important part of the human rights cause with Chinese characteristics but also the necessary requirement for comprehensively implementing the rule of law, building a moderately prosperous society, and promoting social equality and justice.

(Translated by HU Liang)

* ZHAO Mingxia ( 赵明霞 ), Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Politics and Law, Party School of the Central Committee of C. P. C.
** ZHANG Xiaoling ( 张晓玲 ), Professor, Department of Politics and Law, Party School of the Central Committee of C. P. C.
1. Xinhua net. “Xi Jinping Meets Representatives Rewarded at the Fifth National Honoring Ceremony for Self-reliance Models and Collectives and Individuals Offering Assistance to the Persons with Disabilities.”May 17, 2014, accessed December 20, 2017, http://www.xinhuanet.com/photo/2014-05/17/c_110732064.htm.
2. Preamble, Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
3. Purpose, Article 1, Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
4. Li Jing, “Look into the Non-discrimination Principle in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities,” Anti-discrimination Law Review (2014): 3-28.
5. Definition, Article 2, Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
6. Xiao Jian, “Misfortune of Persons with Disabilities is the Pain of the Whole Society,” Guangming Daily, December 3, 2010.
7. The State Council of the PRC, Opinions of the State Council on Accelerating the Well-off Process of Persons with Disabilities, promulgated in February 2015.
8. From June 2014 to July 2015, the Disabled Persons Working Committee of the State Council organized the special investigation into the basic service conditions and needs for persons with disabilities in the country. The data of the basic service condition and demand of 26.64 million registered persons with disabilities and children suspected with disabilities were acquired, providing important basis for drafting of policies on subsistence allowance for persons with disabilities in poverty and nursing allowance for persons with serious disabilities and plan for well-off process of persons with disabilities.
9. Persons with Disabilities Network, “30 Great Ideas to Change the Life of Persons with Disabilities,” http: www.chinadp.netcn/datase7ch_/journal/syS2014-07/15-13428_3.html, accessed July 15, 2014.
10. Preamble, Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

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