Disability rights activists are celebrating after a new disability rights treaty was signed by the Nigerian government.
Nigeria has taken a significant step towards promoting the rights of people with disabilities by signing the African Disability Protocol (ADP). The protocol, which is the first legally binding instrument to protect the rights of people with disabilities in Africa, was signed by the Nigerian government on February 13, 2023, with the support of international NGO Sightsavers.
Executive Secretary, National Commission for Persons with Disabilities James Lalu said, “This is a historic moment for Nigeria and for people with disabilities across Africa. The signing of the African Disability Protocol demonstrates our commitment to promoting the rights of people with disabilities and ensuring that they are included and valued members of our society.”
Dr Sunday Isiyaku, Country Director Sightsavers, added, “We are delighted to have supported the government in signing the African Disability Protocol. This is a significant step towards creating a more inclusive society where the rights of people with disabilities are respected and protected. We look forward to working with the government and other partners to ensure that the protocol is fully implemented. We also hope this encourages more African governments to adopt the protocol.”
The African Disability Protocol was adopted by the African Union in 2014 and came into force in 2018. It provides a comprehensive framework for the protection and promotion of the rights of people with disabilities in Africa, including the right to education, employment, healthcare, and accessibility.
Through its Equal World campaign, Sightsavers is working with partners across Africa to call on their governments to ratify the ADP, which needs 15 ratifications to become law. Disability campaigners in these countries are asking their governments to join Angola, Burundi, Kenya, Mali and Rwanda and make the treaty legal for all. Sightsavers has been working closely with the Nigerian government to ensure the country’s commitment to the protocol. The final step after signing will be for the government to fully ratify the treaty.
The signing of the ADP has also coincided with the one year anniversary of the Global Disability Summit, where last year the Nigerian government made wider commitments to advancing disability rights.
The Equal World campaign encourages the government to use this opportunity to formally report back on their progress on their commitments to the summit secretariat. These included commitments to assent the Disability Rights Law and to improve disability policy in education, accessible infrastructure, economic empowerment, gender rights, data collection and humanitarian response.