Paradigm Shift: UNCT Moldova Strategic Action Supporting CRPD Implementation

Acknowledging the widespread discrimination, exclusion and marginalization that persons with disabilities face globally, in 2006, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). The CRPD — which embodies a paradigm shift towards a human rights-based approach to disability —was ratified by the Republic of Moldova and entered into force in 2010. The UNPRPD project “Paradigm Shift: UNCT Moldova Strategic Action Supporting CRPD Implementation” was intended to build on and take advantage of the momentum of the state’s expressed commitment to comply with its obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and request for support in advancing rights of persons with psychosocial and intellectual impairments.

The project was mainly envisaged as a catalytic action to strengthen Moldova’s capacities to make the quantum leap in terms of a major transformation in its treatment of persons with psychosocial and intellectual impairments. The rights constituting the strategic entry-points under the intervention were: (1) Article 12 equal recognition before the law; (2) Article 13 access to justice; (3) Article 19 independent living and inclusion in the community; (4) Article 24 inclusive quality education; and (5) a combined pillar involving Articles 29 and 33, focusing on Government, National Human Rights Institution and Organizations of Persons with Disabilities monitoring and oversight of CRPD implementation. 

The project is a targeted elaboration on the broader outcomes related to Human Rights, Education and Social Protection under the first and second pillars of the United Nations-Republic of Moldova Partnership Framework (UNPF) 2013–2017, thus securing full alignment with the national priorities. The intervention gives the same importance to process as it does to results. The key human rights principles of participation, inclusion, equality, non-discrimination and accountability are the underlying principles which will ensure sustainability of results. Both rights holders and duty bearers, women and men, are active participants in planning, implementation, and monitoring of progress towards the fulfilment of rights.

Project Goals:

  1. State authorities, in cooperation with organizations of persons with disabilities, score increased progress in closing residential social care institutions and providing options for support to persons moving out of institutions to live in the community;
  2. Persons with intellectual and psychosocial impairments, and in particular women with disabilities,  have access to legally recognized supported decision-making alternatives and exercise increased control over their lives with reduced risks of abuse;
  3. Organizations of people with disabilities,  hold state institutions accountable for their commitments under legal capacity, deinstitutionalization and inclusive education reforms and make effective use of national and international protection systems when their rights are infringed.

Accomplishments:

UNPRPD assisted Moldova in making the case for moving from institutional care to community based services. The Government embarked on the process of transforming the way it provides care and support to adults with disabilities and is currently ready to conceptualize the transition from long-stay residential institutions to community-based services. The residents of the psycho-neurological institutions have acquired for the first time a real hope that in the nearest future each one of them will be able to leave the institution and return to their home communities in a way that respects the rights and dignity.

Within the UNPRPD framework, an interdisciplinary working group on legal capacity reform comprising representatives of the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Labour, Social Protection and Family and experts delegated by the organizations of persons with disabilities has led the efforts of harmonizing the national legislation to the provisions of the Article 12 CRPD. A breakthrough was achieved when the Supreme Court of Justice has denied application of incapacitation measures grounding their decision on the supremacy of the international human rights law and requesting the arrangement of less restrictive forms of support in lieu of guardianship.

With the adoption of the new Code on Education, children and adults with disabilities have the necessary legislative recognition of their rights to receive education in inclusive environments and benefit from necessary supports to help them realize their full potential through education. A network of parents and children with disabilities have mobilized and established a national movement on promoting inclusive education, in conformity with human rights law. The members of the network were empowered and supported to engage in advocacy initiatives and raise their concerns with the Ministries of Education; Health; and Labor, Social Protection and Family. The team also supported individual cases from within the group in their efforts to obtain admission and quality support services in mainstream education.

The UNPRPD established the Ombudsperson for psychiatry and in October 2014 the State officially institutionalized the mandate of the Ombudsperson for psychiatry and ensured appropriate funding from the state budget. Having in place such an efficient mechanism for oversight of institutions offers the best prospects for accelerating the institutional transformation of health and social service delivery for persons with disabilities and closure of segregated institutions.

Within the UNPRPD project, organisations of persons with disabilities have formed an alliance and initiated advocacy with the State for the creation of the Independent Mechanism for Monitoring Implementation of the CRPD. The members of the alliance for the creation of an Independent Monitoring Mechanism negotiated different formats for establishing the Article 33.2 body and participated in the national consultations on the draft law on the NHRI in Moldova (People’s Advocate) with the proposal to expressly incorporate into the law the CRPD monitoring responsibilities.

UNPRPD increased the UNCT’s capacity to promote the human rights of persons with disabilities and consolidated engagement with the national counterparts in Moldova. The programme brought together in an unprecedented way four UN entities, six ministries (Foreign Affairs and European Integration, Education, Social Protection, Justice, Health, and Finance) and engagement with the other key state institutions and ministries under the coordination of the vice-prime minister of the country.