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MDAC v Belgium before the European Committee of Social Rights: The Right to Inclusive Education Pushed by the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Published on June 1, 2018        Author: 

Around the world, the great majority of disabled children are out-of-school. In Western countries, they are often educated in so-called ‘special schools’, which give them lower educational standards and impede their inclusion into society. In a recent case about the issue, the European Committee of Social Rights has found Belgium in breach of the European Social Charter. This case was lodged by Validity – formerly the Mental Disability Advocacy Center (MDAC). The parties were notified of the decision on 28 November 2017, but this decision was only made public on 29 March 2018.

The Charter, adopted in 1961, revised in 1996, and known for its à la carte provisions, contains two provisions on the right to education. Article 15(1) provides that States Parties must grant disabled people ‘education and vocational training in the framework of general schemes wherever possible’. Article 17(2), more generally, guarantees that children have access to ‘free primary and secondary education’. The Committee ruled that Belgium violated both of them.

This decision surely comes as a relief for the many parents of disabled children. I also want to stress an important point emerging from the MDAC v Belgium case. The outcome is proof of the filtering of international developments into the Council of Europe. Read the rest of this entry…

Filed under: EJIL Analysis, Human Rights