Empowering Persons with Disabilities: Socio-Economic Rights as a Pathway to Personal Autonomy and Independence

Seatzu, Francesco |

Recent years have witnessed a growing awareness of the importance of the status of persons with disabilities as right-holders, and increasing linkages being made between human rights and persons with disabilities’ vulnerabilities in the development context. Stimulated by mounting concerns about the impact of the financial crisis of 2007–2008 on persons with disabilities, these changes have unsurprisingly catalyzed attention on those rights of persons with disabilities that are most closely connected to ensuring persons with disabilities’ development needs—namely their social and economic rights. Focusing on the content of, and duties imposed by, persons with disabilities’ socio-economic rights, this article starts by describing the notions of “disability” and “disabled persons.” It then discusses the emergence of persons with disabilities as socioeconomic rights holders, focusing on the question of whether persons with disabilities are or should be considered a “special case” vis-à-vis such rights when compared with other vulnerable groups. The article concludes with a discussion of the role domestic courts can and should play in the enforcement of the socio-economic rights contained in the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Persons with Disabilities.