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The Alliance For Rights – Africa Towards Disability Inclusion (ARADI)

2 Nov 2018


Down Syndrome South Africa (DSSA) is non-governmental, non-profit organisation formed in 1986 as the national umbrella body and parent advocacy group for the Constitutional rights of persons with Down syndrome and other intellectual disabilities.

DSSA is affiliated to the Africa Disability Alliance (ADA) through the Africa Down Syndrome Network (ADSN).

The ARADI (Alliance for Rights – Africa Towards Disability Inclusion) is a continental strategy that is aimed to support CSOs participation and contribution to the African Union (AU) to enable 13 Pan-African Disability Federations (PADFs) and 14 Youth CSOs to promote the importance of disability rights using the AU’s Africa Charter on Human and People’s Rights, also known as the Africa Disability Protocol (ADP) and the Model Disability Law (MDL). The focus of the ARADI project is to lead AU member countries towards the adoption and ratification of the Africa Disability Protocol (ADP).

ADA’s role includes supporting high-level advocacy for the ratification and implementation of the Africa Disability Protocol. In 2009 the African Union established a working group on Older Persons and Persons with Disabilities. The purpose of the working group was to prepare a draft protocol and is premised on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) but with a focus on issues specifically related to Africa.

Why the need for an Africa Disability Protocol?

  • Existing AU treaties and rulings fall short of the minimum standards of the UNCRPD
  • Most existing frameworks follow the charity model by referring to the needs of persons with disabilities rather than their rights
  • Persons with disabilities are closely linked to older persons
  • The language in other instruments are inappropriate (e.g. handicapped, challenged)
  • Litigation tends to be ineffective
  • Despite more than 50% of AU member states having signed the UNCRPD very few explicitly provide for constitutional protection on the grounds of disability and even fewer have any form of disability legislation.

The final draft of the Africa Disability Protocol was adopted at the African Union (AU) Assembly of the African Head of States and Governments in Addis Ababa on the 31st January 2018. 15 AU member countries are needed to adopt the protocol before it becomes an official AU document.

The sad reality in South Africa and other African countries is that children born with Down syndrome are perceived to be a curse brought upon by the ancestors and therefore need to be thrown into rivers or hidden from society.

DSSA through the Africa Down Syndrome Network is working towards mobilizing Government and other disability organizations to engage them in advocating for the adoption and ratification of the Africa Disability Protocol. In August 2018 Southern Regional delegates from various disability organisations including DSSA met in Mauritius to sign the Mauritius Declaration calling on the Southern Regional Governments to sign and ratify the protocol.

The South African National Department of Social Development is leading the process for ratification through cabinet and has already received the signed Presidential Minutes.

In the spirit of Disability Rights Awareness Month 2018 – “A Disability Inclusive, Barrier Free South Africa 2030” and in honour of the centenary of the late Mr Nelson Mandela and Albertina Sisulu, DSSA calls upon all governance structures and Cabinet to approve the Africa Disability Protocol. If South Africa is to move towards a disability inclusive and barrier free society by 2030 what better way to show commitment than by South Africa becoming the first country in signing and ratifying the Africa Disability Protocol.

Ancella Ramjas
National Executive Director
Down Syndrome South Africa


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