The first meeting of key stakeholders of the UN Partnership to Promote the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

UNDP, ILO and UNICEF have been funded by the UN Partnership to Promote the Rights if Person with Disabilities for a 2-year project starting in 2013. The strategic focus of the project is to strengthen the capacities and roles of Organizations of Persons with Disabilities in the advocacy, development, implementation and monitoring of legal frameworks and policies, to help ensure that the current momentum around ratification of CRPD actually results in the empowerment of people with disabilities and enables them to claim their rights.

Official statistics state that in Viet Nam 6 million people live with disabilities, of which over 1.3 million are children, (or about 6.6% of the population). However an analysis from the governmental Vietnam Household Living Standards Survey based on the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) leads to an estimate of as many as 15.3% of Vietnam’s population living with disability.

The large number of persons with disabilities in Viet Nam makes it an issue high on the national agenda. Viet Nam is a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), and in its first Universal Periodic Review in 2009 accepted recommendations to consider ratification of CRPD and to adopt a Law on Persons with Disabilities. This law was adopted in June 2010 (Law Nr. 51/2010/QH12, hereafter “LPWD”), and an Implementing Decree was passed in April 2012 (28/2010/NĐ-CP). Viet Nam is actively considering ratification of CRPD, as well as ILO Convention concerning Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment of Disabled Persons (No. 159) and is currently finalizing a National Action Plan to support people with disabilities.

While it will be important to further develop the national legal framework that is compliant with international standards, an effective implementation of the CRPD and the LPWD will only be possible with the active engagement of Disabled People’s Organisations (DPOs) and the partnership between the State and DPOs. Only when people with disabilities (including children) are included in every step of the decision-making processes and in monitoring activities, will they be empowered to speak for themselves and only then will the legal framework materialize into the realization of rights. The development of civil society and of appropriate frameworks for civil society are however still in early stages and the involvement of civil society organisations into policy, decision and monitoring making processes are not ‘natural’ and require advocacy, especially from the UN Country Team.