13233032_1297547023606727_1500088692791597354_nThe RightsNow! project is honored to work with disability advocates and allies in Armenia to strengthen communities through disability rights implementation.

Armenia is at a critical juncture in its disability rights history. The U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) was signed in 2007 and ratified in 2010. The National Assembly of Armenia conducted hearings on adoption of a new national disability law, the Rights Protection and Social Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities Law. Drafted with participation of leading Disabled Persons Organizations (DPOs) and disability NGOs, the new law would replace the 2007 Law on Social Protection of People with Disabilities. Based on social inclusion rather than a social protection model, the new law would bring Armenian legislation into greater compliance with the CRPD. To date, the law has not been adopted.

In spite of constitutional and legislative protections, barriers to equal rights and opportunities for people with disabilities persist. Article 30 of the Armenian National Constitution ensures the right of every individual to an education, as a guarantee of development of future employment. In reality, however, few schools are accessible for children with disabilities. Universities and trade schools are also nearly universally inaccessible. The 2003 Law of Urban Development states that all public buildings, new or renovated, should be accessible. Yet, lack of enforcement mechanisms has prevented implementation. Restricted access to education, compounded by inaccessible infrastructure, contributes to a bleak 9% employment rate for Armenians with disabilities.

Disability-led organizations, policy makers, legal experts, civil society actors and international NGOs are actively addressing these issues, and engaging to identify solutions that will guarantee full inclusion of disabled citizens through effective implementation and enforcement of laws and policies.

The RightsNow! project welcomes all people to become actively involved in moving the disability rights agenda forward in Armenia using the tools and resources made available in the Global Disability Rights Now! resource center.

RightsNow! Activities in Armenia

In October 2015, our project team conducted a 5-day introductory visit to Yerevan and met with a wide range of stakeholders to get first-hand information on the status of the national disability legal frameworks, implementation strategies and disability rights initiatives. The U.S. experts met with DPOs, civil society and human rights organizations, and Ministry officials. The visit arranged in collaboration with the Armenian-based AGATE Center.
In May 2016, RightsNow! sent a team of experts in disability law, coalition building, and political advocacy to Yerevan to conduct a five-day training and work with DPOs, government, and civil society leaders. The training resulted in the development of collaborative plans for local actions.
 
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