Disability Assessment and Determination in the Arab Region: Legal Country Profiles
Since the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) was adopted in 2006, the field of disability policy has undergone a paradigm shift from a medical approach, focused on the individual and their condition, to understanding disability from a human rights perspective that takes into account the impact of the environment on an individual’s specific condition. Under a human rights perspective, disability is the result of the interaction between an individual condition and the surrounding social and physical environment. Most Arab countries have signed or ratified CRPD and have committed to changing their laws and institutional frameworks to ensure that persons with disabilities are included in all facets of life. While progress has been made in several policy areas such as national disability strategies and disability laws, one core policy area remains elusive so far: adopting a disability assessment and determination system that conforms with the CRPD’s human rights-based approach.
This has been a challenge for two reasons. First, the current understanding and also sometimes definitions of disability are still based on a medical understanding of disability and require a conceptual shift that has not fully materialized yet. Second, countries face technical challenges depending on their unique socioeconomic context, geographic make-up, and governing institutional structures. The laws presented in this paper are only one piece of a larger and multi-layered process for disability assessment. Legal frameworks are necessary, but not sufficient, to ensuring a CRPD-compliant disability assessment and determination process.