RWI recently organised a four day Summer School for disability and human rights in Lund in cooperation with Funktionsrätt Sverige (Disability Rights Sweden).
The Summer School brought together law students, members of civil society organisations and practitioners from different levels of governance. It focused on how Swedish and international law, including the Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) can be utilised to protect disability rights more effectively in Sweden.
One of the key goals was to give future lawyers the knowledge to use international and national law to prevent discrimination of those with disabilities. This is why RWI Organiser Anna Bruce said students were a primary focus group.
“The Swedish Disability Movement has rightly had a strong focus on strategic litigation in national courts for the past few years. Without key provisions of disability law being interpreted by the courts, the full benefit of important law reforms remain undelivered. This is not going to change unless future lawyers have knowledge and capacity in national and international disability law.”
Building on from this, other sessions focussed on how the CRPD can be used in Swedish courts and what Sweden still needs to do to meet the treaty’s requirements.
Guest professor and pioneer in disability rights, Gerard Quinn, said that Sweden had a good tradition of approaching disability as a question of social development, but could still do more.
“The CRPD requires a new approach based on human rights. Sweden can lead the world provided its social policies are made to sub-serve the higher purpose of human rights. The CRPD also places a focus on the process of change. In this regard Sweden needs to put in place a national human rights institution to ensure an independent mechanism to monitor, protect and promote the convention.”
In addition to knowledge and capacity building, the Summer School provided a great opportunity to network as Chavia Ali from Disabled Refugees Welcome said.
“To be in a place where everyone is aware of the lack of human rights experienced by people with disabilities every day, and working actively to end this, is extremely empowering for me. This is a unique opportunity to learn, to meet, to network and to belong.”
RWI is now aiming to make the Summer School an annual cooperation with Funktionsrätt Sverige to continue spreading knowledge of the importance of disability rights within Sweden.