On 20 April 2020, members of the Coordinating Group of the COVID-19 Disability Rights Monitor (‘COVID-19 DRM’) launched a major global initiative to conduct rapid independent monitoring of state measures concerning the impact of COVID-19 on persons with disabilities. The COVID-19 DRM was endorsed by the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health, Mr. Dainius Pūras, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Ms. Catalina Devandas-Aguilar, and the UN Independent Expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism, Ms. Ikponwosa Ero.

The survey was comprised of three components, each targeting key stakeholders:

  • The first requested official information from Governments.
  • The second targeted national human rights monitoring mechanisms, including national human rights institutions (‘NHRIs’), national preventive mechanisms (‘NPMs’) under the auspices of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (‘OP-CAT’), as well as national monitoring mechanisms and frameworks operating under Article 33 of the CRPD;
  • The third aspect of the survey called for persons with disabilities and their representative organisations to provide their own testimonies as well as their assessments of state actions taken to protect fundamental rights.

Collectively, the three components of the survey aimed to collect information, inter alia, about what states were doing to protect core rights of persons with disabilities, including the right to life, access to health and essential services. Beyond this, the initiative seeks to highlight the particular issues faced by persons with disabilities in situations of heightened vulnerability during the COVID pandemic, including those living in institutions and their own homes, children, older persons, those who are homeless and people in rural settings.

The questionnaires were made available in twenty-five languages, including the five official languages of the United Nations (‘UN’), namely Arabic, English, French, Russian and Spanish, mostly through the tremendous efforts of volunteer translators. The surveys were made available on a special website established for the initiative – www.covid-drm.org – and remained open from 20 April to 7 August 2020; a visual data dashboard was also established on the site to provide up-to-date information on response rates, as well as a set of weekly briefings summarising data received.

During a period of three and ahalf months, 2,152 online responses were collected from 134 countries around the world, representing over two third of UN member states.

Outcomes

Members of the Coordinating Group

  • The Validity Foundation – Mental Disability Advocacy Centre is an international non-governmental human rights organisation which uses legal strategies to promote, protect and defend the human rights of persons with intellectual disabilities and persons with psychosocial disabilities in Europe and Africa. Validity holds special consultative status with ECOSOC and participatory status at the Council of Europe. Website: www.validity.ngo.
  • The European Network on Independent Living (ENIL) is an international network of disabled people, with members throughout Europe. ENIL is a forum for all disabled people, Independent Living organizations and their non-disabled allies on the issues of Independent Living. ENIL represents the disability movement for human rights and social inclusion based on solidarity, peer support, deinstitutionalization, democracy, self-representation, cross disability and self-determination. Website: www.enil.eu
  • The International Disability Alliance (IDA) is an Alliance of 14 global and regional organisations of persons with disabilities. Together, the IDA Members promote the rights of persons with disabilities across the United Nations’ efforts to advance human rights and sustainable development. IDA supports organisations of persons with disabilities to hold their governments to account and advocate for change locally, nationally and internationally. Website: http://www.internationaldisabilityalliance.org
  • Disability Rights International (DRI) is a human rights advocacy organization dedicated to the protection and full community inclusion of children and adults with disabilities worldwide. DRI documents human rights violations, educates and engages the public through media campaigns, trains and supports activists working to bring change, and conducts strategic litigation to enforce the rights of people with disabilities. DRI’s Worldwide Campaign to End the Institutionalization of Children is dedicated to promoting the recognition and enforcement of the right of all children to live and grow up with a family and not in any form of institution, orphanage, or group home. DRI is an organization led by people with disabilities and their families. Website: www.driadvocacy.org.
  • The Disability Rights Unit at the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, is committed to finding evidence-based ways of addressing the rights of persons with disabilities on the African continent. This includes conducting research on international disability rights standards and instruments, building capacity among governments, national human rights institutions, academia, civil society and communities, and engaging with judicial, quasi-judicial and non-judicial redress mechanisms. Website: www.chr.up.ac.za/units/disability-rights-unit.
  • The International Disability and Development Consortium (IDDC) is a global consortium of 31 disability and development non-governmental organisations (NGOs), mainstream development NGOs and representative organisations of persons with disabilities (DPOs) supporting inclusive international development and humanitarian action with a special focus on the full and effective enjoyment of human rights by all people with disabilities in more than 150 countries around the world. Website: www.iddcconsortium.net.
  • The Disability Rights Fund (DRF), and its sister organization, the Disability Rights Advocacy Fund (DRAF), are pooled funds and participatory grantmakers, bringing together global disability rights activists and donors to resource organizations of persons with disabilities across Africa, Asia, Pacific and Caribbean to advocate for advancement of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) at national and local levels. With more than 50% of grants supporting organizations of persons with disabilities marginalized within the disability movement, DRF supports persons with disabilities around the world to build diverse movements, ensure inclusive development agendas, and achieve equal rights and opportunity for all. DRAF supports work to advance legal frameworks to realize rights. Websites: https://disabilityrightsfund.org and https://drafund.org
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