Persons with disabilities, Disabled rights, United Nations, Brazil


This article explores the purport and portent of the 2006 United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) for disabled Brazilians. The analysis proceeds in three stages. First, it traces the evolution of the Convention as the culmination of a 30-year dialogue between the UN, governments and civil society organizations worldwide. As a legally binding instrument, the UNCRPD enables disabled citizens and interested civil society organizations to hold signatory states accountable for the protection and furtherance of disability rights. Second, the article examines how the Brazilian government came to adopt the Convention and how it has implemented its provisions to date. Finally, I investigate the possible long-term consequences for Brazil´s young democracy of the strategic choices revealed by the nation’s human rights policy implementation emphasis. Overall, this analysis argues the formal creation of institutions is just the first step toward realization of human rights for disabled Brazilians and thereby a more robust democracy. Changing cultural values and social relations institutionalized in informal patterns of everyday life cannot be achieved by statutory mandates alone, but will be critical to full realization of the Convention’s aspirations in Brazil.