Integration of People with Disabilities: Discrimination

The Council of Europe recommends disability policy guidelines for Member States. With the knowledge that governments follow different approaches to achieve equal opportunity policies, the Council of Europe established a Working Group in November 1996 to elaborate a collection and comparative analysis of legislation against discrimination of persons with disabilities in member States. The final report will be published in autumn 1999. Internet publication URL: www.independentliving.org/docs3/coedisc.html

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The enjoyment of the rights and freedoms set forth in this Convention shall be secured without discrimination on any ground such as sex, race, colour, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, association with a national minority, property, birth or other status. (Article 14) European Convention on Human Rights

Despite constant achievements in the field of integration, many people with disabilities in today's Europe still feel discriminated against, directly or indirectly, on an ad hoc or regular basis. Therefore, many countries strive towards equal opportunities policies. To achieve that aim and given the complexity of the issue, governments follow different approaches.

In view of this diversity, the Council of Europe established a Working Group in November 1996 to elaborate a collection and comparative analysis of legislation against discrimination of persons with disabilities in member States.

The Working Group based its study on contributions from participating national delegations:
reports on the state of the art of existing national legislation against discrimination of people with disabilities and on the practical situation in all areas of life as identified in the Council of Europe Recommendation No R (92) 6 on a coherent policy for people with disabilities, such as education, mobility, accessibility, vocational guidance and training, employment, sports, leisure and culture, gender, income, medical care, information.

The Group also analysed the positions of non-governmental organisations of and for people with disabilities as well as employers' associations and trade unions through hearings and written consultations procedures.

The legal approaches adopted by participating European States to achieve equality of opportunity fall within three main categories: compensatory measures, preferential treatment and anti-discriminatory legislation. In practice, many governments use a combination of these approaches.

Governments are recommended to apply a balanced mix of legislative and other measures to eliminate discrimination on the grounds of disability and achieve equality of opportunity, consisting of

  • legislation to ban discrimination and to empower individuals to gain redress against
  • proven discrimination,
  • positive action and/or compensatory measures to eliminate or counterbalance obstacles
  • to full participation, either by mainstreaming or through specific measures,
  • measures which tackle structural causes and promote institutional change, including a
  • change in attitudes by public awareness raising;
  • participation of people with disabilities in the decision-making process.

The final report will be published in autumn 1999.

The enjoyment of the rights set forth in this Charter shall be secured without discrimination on any ground such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political and other opinion, national extraction or social origin, health, association with a national minority, birth or other status. (Part V, Article E)

Revised European Social Charter

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