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Mexico Shouldn’t Eliminate Key Disability Rights Agency

National Council for People with Disabilities Important Institution for Rights Protection

Then-president-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador greets supporters during a rally in Tepic, Nayarit, Mexico, on Sunday, Sept. 16, 2018. © 2018 Cesar Rodriguez/Bloomberg via Getty Images

On February 18, Mexico’s president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, suggested he would dissolve the country’s National Council for People with Disabilities, claiming it only fulfills administrative functions.  He did not indicate what if anything he would replace the council with.

Mexico’s disability community believes the council needs to be improved. It needs greater funding, should have more involvement in setting the government’s priorities on disability rights, and should have the power to evaluate and monitor disability policies. Abolition of the council will be a blatant regressive move, undercutting protection of the rights of persons with disabilities.

Established in 2011, the council has helped Mexico fulfill its obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), which require the government to have both high level focal points and independent mechanisms, responsible for monitoring implementation of the treaty.

The council was designed to serve as a focal point to coordinate policies related to the rights of people with disabilities across federal agencies, including accessibility, access to justice, independent living accommodations, education, and political participation, among others. For instance, not all public officials are aware of how to best implement policies respectful of disability rights, and the council has the mandate to advise and provide expertise on these matters.

López Obrador argues what is most important for people with disabilities is direct financial support in the form of social pensions. While these benefits can be important for people with disabilities, they cannot replace the important function of the National Council in ensuring compliance with human rights obligations in Mexico.

If López Obrador does indeed shut the National Council down, Mexico will need to replace it to meet its obligations under the CRPD. Instead of eliminating the council, the government should strengthen it so it can successfully fulfill its rights protection function.

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