International Conference: Using the Law as a Tool for Social Change, the 30th of May 2018, Stockholm

CONFERENCE — May 30, 9 am — 5 pm

How can the Independent Living and Disability Rights Movement promote anti-discrimination laws and disability rights? What is the role of civil society in implementing Human Rights under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the European Convention on Human Rights, and national laws? How can civil society use strategic litigation in this effort in the Nordic countries and elsewhere?

Venue: BOLINDERSSALEN, Bolinders Kafé och Konferens, Bolinders plan 1 (close to Stockholm Central Station)

MODERATOR: Paul Lappalainen, American and Swedish lawyer
and researcher, specialized in discrimination law and
civil society involvement

MORNING The role of civil society – Human Rights implementation and strategies for legal action

From 8.30 Registration

9.15 Jamie Bolling, Director of Independent Living Institute – Welcoming word and a reference to the two days ”match” on ”Using the law as a tool” 28 and 29 of May.


09.20 Why Using the law in fighting discrimination 

Introduction by Adolf Ratzka, Disability activist, researcher, lecturer
on independent living and personal assistance, founded
Independent Living Institute, ENIL’s founding chairperson

·        Abbas Abbas, Human Rights lawyer, director at AlManarah Association Nazareth, Israel, working with legal advice and action on multiple discrimination

·        Sid Wolinsky, Co-founder of Disability Rights Advocates about cooperation with the disability movement as the key to finding relevant cases within disability discrimination  – public interest law firms

10:00 Coffee break


10:30 Strategies for legal action and remedies in the Nordic countries

Introduction by Gerard Quinn, Professor of Disability law and policy
in Galway, Ireland, one of the architects of UN CRPD,
now associated with Raoul Wallenberg Institute in Lund

Which are the legal conditions for the defence of disability rights? How can positive Uses of Legal Strategies Complement Law Reform and Social Development? How does civil society in the Nordic countries use strategic litigation to strengthen the rights of persons with disabilities? How do the Nordic systems fit into the European context?

·        Sweden – Ola Linder, Lawyer at Independent Living Institute and Med lagen som verktyg

·        Finland – Jukka Kumpuvuori, Disability rights lawyer litigating in Finland with some cases before the CRPD Committe and the Court of Justice of the EU

·        Norway – Berit Vegheim, Disability Activist at Stop Diskrimineringen and Menneskerettsalliansen

·        Iceland – Katrin Oddsdottir, Human Rights lawyer at the Organisation of the Disabled in Iceland  


12:00 Lunch celebrating ILI’s 25 years 

AFTERNOON Lawyering and litigation – how to challenge the system


13:30  Implementing Human Rights by using international and national legal standards in strategic litigation. Obstacles to access to justice, cost allocation etc – and how to overcome them.

Introduction by Lena Svenaeus, Former Equal Opportunities Ombudsman, researcher in Sociology of Law , Lund University

13.45 Panel

·        Kapka Panayotova, Disability activist, researcher,
trainer and consultant. on her case against the City of Sofia concerning lack of accessibility of the subway system

·        Fredrik Bergman, Head of the Swedish Public interest law firm Centrum för rättvisa on how to run and finance cases


14:45 Coffee break


15:15 Coalition building – how can lawyers, disability rights organisations and universities strategically work together?

Introduction by Annika Jyrwall Åkerberg, Human Rights Lawyer,
educator and author on rights of persons with
disability, group leader at Civil Rights Defenders

15.30 Panel

·        Ulrika Westerlund, Former president of RFSL and
working successfully with strategic litigation for rights
of transgender people, on strategic litigation and the rights of transgender people

·        Sid Wolinsky on public interest law firm och legal clinics

·         Stellan Gärde on cooperation between lawyers and Swedish disability movement and Talerättsfonden


16:30 Summary and reflections by Susanne Berg, Swedish Disability Rights activist and writer.

Mingle 17:00

More information: