Realizing the promise of CRPD and disability discrimination law: strategic litigation and human rights enforcement

Independent Living Institute’s project Law as a tool for social change arranged the following:

Language: English

CONFERENCE 24 November 2016

Realizing the promise of CRPD and disability discrimination law: strategic litigation and human rights enforcement

Time: 13-16.30
Place: Gotlandsgatan 44, Skanstull, Stockholm.

Key speakers:

Gerard Quinn: The CRPD and EU-law in principle: their relevance to Swedish law in practice
Sid Wolinsky: The challenges of implementing change in the US through the courts
Pat Kirkpatrick: Fundraising at Disability Right Advocates

SEMINARS 25 November 2016

Enforcing disability law - The role of lawyers and lawyering 

Time: 10-12
Place: Sensus, floor 9, Klara Södra Kyrkogata 1, Stockholm

Enforcing disability law - The role of civil society 
Time: 14-16
Place: Ersta Sköndals högskola, Stigbergsgatan 30, Stockholm

Updates about program and other details on


The gap between the rights of persons with disabilities as enshrined in legislation, on the one hand, and the group’s lack of equal opportunities and experience of discrimination in everyday life, on the other hand, has long been pointed out by the disability movement in awareness raising campaigns and lobbying efforts. Using legal practice and case law for implementing anti-discrimination legislation, while well established elsewhere, is a more recent approach in Sweden. Strategic litigation in the area of disability rights, in Sweden, faces obstacles such as
  • a lack of case law concerning disability discrimination, in particular accessibility
  • expectations that government agencies and private actors will voluntarily live up to the law’s intentions
  • the need to develop the human rights framework in the area of disability and accessibility
  • the lack of a legal strategy developed by the disability community
  • the low level of understanding of and commitment to disability rights by lawyers
To deepen the understanding of strategic litigation as a tool for social change the Independent Living Institute (ILI), in its project Med lagen som verktyg, has invited three experts to present the concept from their perspectives:
  • Professor Gerard Quinn, Ireland, (see the video presentation below) focuses on EU and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and their implementation in Sweden.
  • Attorney Sid Wolinsky, USA, focuses on how nonprofit disability rights legal centers can advance equal rights and opportunities for people with disabilities.
  • Attorney Josef Ansorge, USA focuses on how private law firms, through pro bono work, can contribute to developing case law and implement anti-discrimination legislation.

Speakers’ profiles

Gerard Quinn 

Professor of Law and Director of the Centre on International Disability Law & Policy at the Law School of the National University of Ireland, Galway - one of the first of its kind with a dedicated masters (LLM) and PhD program in international disability law. Professor Quinn, considered to be one of the architects of CRPD, serves currently on the scientific committee (advisory board) of the European Union Fundamental Rights Agency (EU FRA, Vienna). He has worked for the European Commission (EU) on equality policy and also rose to be First Vice President of the Council of Europe’s Social Rights Committee (a treaty monitoring body on economic and social rights in Europe). He has directed large studies for the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and led the delegation of Rehabilitation International during the drafting of the CRPD.

Sid Wolinsky  

Supervising Attorney of Disability Rights Advocates, Berkeley, California. He is a national and international expert specializing in the rights of people with disabilities, particularly through class actions and high-impact litigation. Since the 1970s he has founded or co-founded the San Francisco Neighborhood Legal Assistance Foundation, Public Advocates, the Disability Rights Clinical Legal Education Program and Disability Rights Advocates in Oakland, Hungary and New York. In recent years, he has focused on legal issues involving students with learning disabilities and health care rights of disabled people.


Pat Kirkpatrick: who has worked as a fundraiser at Disability Rights Advocates  speaks in Sweden about fundraising and ways that Swedish disability rights organizations could raise money for sustainable legal action.