Independent Living Institute

Government Implementation of the Standard Rules
As Seen By Member Organizations of World Blind Union - WBU

Download 'WBU Reports on the UN Standard Rules' as a PDF file (195 KB)
The Independent Living Institute wishes to express gratitude to Mr. Bengt Lindqvist, UN Special Rapporteur, and Mr. Dimitris Michailakis, for their kind permission to print the previously un-published WBU reply to the Implementation of the Standard Rules.

© Dimitris Michailakis 1997
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Implementation of the Standard Rules as seen by:
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Part I - Summary

Part II - NGO Replies

Industrialized countries

Middle East and North Africa
Countries in transition
Latin America and the Caribbean
Sub-Saharan Africa
South, East Asia and the Pacific


This report analyses the replies to the questionnaire sent not only to the governments of the UN Member States, but also to 600 national NGO's within the disability field. The number of responses from the NGO's was not as high as from the governments of Member States, representing, however, a very interesting material. In this report I will separate, among the total of 163 replies from NGO's, the 33 replies from World Blind Union (WBU).

Part I of this report presents and analyses the results from the NGO's belonging to WBU, which have answered the questionnaire. Each table corresponds to a specific question in the questionnaire (the number of the question is marked). For each question, after the presentation of the results, comparisons are made between a) the results from the organization in question and the results from the total of NGO's responding to the questionnaire, and b) the results from the organization in question and the replies from governments. In this way we can locate the issues where convergence, or divergence, of views exists, between the particular NGO's and all the NGO's having responded to the questionnaire, and between the particular NGO's and the governments.

The information in Part II is presented in rather a detailed form, in order to expose the collected data of the responding NGO's.

The decision to send the questionnaire, not only to governments of the Member States, but also to NGO's of these states within the disability field, proved to be worthwhile. The different perspectives and views indicate a more complex picture of the degree of achievement of each country implementing of the Standard Rules. When the government and one, or many, NGO's give the same answers there is a guarantee for the reliability of the received data, but when, on the other hand, the answers differ many questions arise. For instance: Who knows what about whom? Does the organization for the blind know the conditions for the mentally disabled? Is there a trend that governments give an idealizing description, while NGO's give a pessimistic one? The comparisons in this report are not aiming at indicating the greatest possible differences, but to find out the greatest possible achievements with the standards, set out by the Rules. Yet, attention has to be paid to cases where the answers from one and the same country are not concordant. For several questions, the difference between the percentages reported by WBU organizations and governments, is ten percent or more. What do such differences tell us?

The answers differ, now and then, on specific details on very essential issues, like what kind of services that are available, and what persons with disabilities are entitled to. That the answers differ, on issues such as the role of the co-ordinating committee, is rather evident, since it is a question of assessing, of evaluating a process between two or more parties. But in case of divergent answers about social and economic rights questions arise. Is there an information gap even among the most prominent spokesmen for persons with disabilities? Do organizations have too small resources in order to keep themselves well-informed? Or do the disability organizations work rather separately from each other; concentrating on their own, specific disability group, due to the complexity of the matter, that is *disability*, is it a too big an issue to keep record of?

The divergence is of course in many cases the result of a different perspective due to different roles: The government is the actor implementing policies within a wide range of issues, while NGO's are experts in a specific field, actors who therefore very well know what is happening in a limited area. The answers from the NGO¥s can thus sometimes be the verification, or falsification, of the answer from the governments. The government answer giving a more optimistic view than the answer from NGO's could depend on the fact that - being the responsible part for the implementation of policies, conventions and rules such as the Standard Rules - the government wants to demonstrate that it has carried out its obligations.

By elaborating the specific replies of different NGO's, comparing the answers with the NGO's as a whole - a rather common procedure - and with the governments, one trait has emerged, rather unexpectedly: that specific NGO's diverge on one or many issues with the NGO's in general but converge with the answer from the government. In order to explain this, and other interesting findings, further monitoring is needed.

Distribution of NGOs belonging to the WBU according to regions

South, East Asia and the Pacific515,2
Industrialized countries618,2
Latin America and the Caribbean13,0
The Middle East and North Africa13,0
Sub-Saharan Africa1030,3
Countries in transition1030,3

Answers from WBU organizations were received from all regions. The regions with most respondents among WBU organizations were Sub-Saharan Africa and the countries in transition. The regions clearly underrepresented are the Middle East and North Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean. When compared with the responses from the NGOs as a whole, the percentages from the WBU organizations are lower regarding the industrialized countries, but higher regarding the Sub-Saharan Africa and countries in transition.

Contents of the WBU Report