The Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Africa was adopted on January 29th, 2018 during the 39th ordinary session of the African Union Summit that was held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Although the Protocol shows an increasing awareness about disability within the African countries, it hasn’t been ratified yet . Only 9 countries did sign it and the last one to do so was Angola on June 17th, 2020.
The Protocol represents the culmination of a process led by the African Union focused on the rights of disabled persons in Africa, which began in 1999 with the Declaration on the African Decade for Persons with Disabilities. The Declaration has gradually highlighted the need to protect about 84 million Africans with disabilities who are more likely to experience poverty as well as discrimination and violence. In 2003, the African Union created an ad hoc Working Group aimed at drafting a regional legal instrument in order to ensure equal enjoyment of all human rights by all persons with disabilities.
Therefore, the Protocol was specifically based on the challenges that persons with disabilities in Africa face every day.
The adoption of the Protocol represents a milestone for the African community and it was also acclaimed by the UN. Former Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities – Ms. Catalina Devandas – at the time stated that “The Protocol is expected to trigger a much greater inclusion of the concerns of people with disabilities in laws, policies and budgets.”