Disability Social Rights

In this public lecture Michael Stein will discuss the struggles by persons with disabilities for social and economic justice within a rights framework.

The struggles by persons with disabilities for social and economic justice have been articulated increasingly within a rights framework. The most prominent expression of this strategy was the adoption in 2006 by the United Nations of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), a holistic human rights treaty that contains not only civil and political rights, but also recognizes economic and social rights. Such rights are essential for the more than one billion persons with disabilities worldwide, eighty percent of whom live in the developing world and regularly experience material and social exclusion. These challenges are equally present within developed countries, for example the unemployment rate in the United States among working age adults with disabilities is currently nearing eighty percent.

The turn towards international human rights raises a number of questions and challenges: How is disability social rights accommodated within moral and political theory? How does disability theory dovetail with existing and potential social rights theory, jurisprudence, and practice? How are international disability rights and norms translated into diverse social, economic, and cultural contexts? What are the key obstacles and dilemmas to the implementation of disability social rights? What potential opportunities and restrictions might arise from pursuing justice through disability social rights?

Michael Stein holds a J.D. from Harvard Law School and a Ph.D. from Cambridge University. Co-founder and Executive Director of the Harvard Law School Project on Disability, as well as Extraordinary Professor, University of Pretoria Faculty of Law, Centre for Human Rights, and formerly Professor at William & Mary Law School, he has also taught at NYU and Stanford Law School. An internationally acclaimed expert on disability law and policy, Stein participated in the drafting of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, works with disabled persons organizations around the world, actively consults with international governments on their disability laws and policies, and advises a number of United Nations bodies.