Protecting the rights of children and the disabled

  • Date: 2017-09-05

I. Background

The United Nations (U.N.) exists in part to honor, protect and secure human rights and fundamental freedoms. Following the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR)—known collectively as the “international bill of rights”—as well as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the U.N. passed both the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in 1989, to take effect in 1990, and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) in 2006, to take effect in 2008. These two more recent treaties serve to further uphold and protect the rights of children and the disabled.

While not a member state of the U.N., Taiwan nevertheless upholds human rights as a universal value. Over the years, the government has honored the spirit of these two conventions by enacting a steady stream of laws and regulations to guarantee the rights of children and the disabled. To bring Taiwan’s laws in line with international norms, the government promulgated an act to implement the ICCPR and ICESCR in 2009, followed by a statute to implement the CEDAW in 2011. In 2014, both the Implementation Act of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Act to Implement the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities were enacted, giving the CRC and the CRPD the force of law, and announcing to the world Taiwan’s promise to protect the rights of children and the disabled.

II. Current status of Taiwan’s efforts to implement the CRC and CRPD

A. Initial national reports and reviews

In accordance with the CRC and CRPD, and associated implementation laws and regulations, state parties should deliver initial national reports on implementation within two years of the conventions’ entry into force. Governments are also obligated to assemble a panel of experts and civic groups to review the reports produced.

Following the path laid out by the international community, Taiwan has already issued its two initial reports, and plans to convene the first meetings of the review panels by the end of 2017. The panels will involve five experts each, drawn from a pool of specialists, all with long histories of promoting and protecting the rights of children and the disabled, respectively, within the UN framework. Furthermore, the panels will engage in constructive dialogues with the government, civic groups and youth representatives to discuss and offer concrete suggestions on important issues concerning the rights of children and the disabled.

1. Taiwan’s initial national report under the CRC was published on November 17, 2016, and the review panel will meet between November 20 and November 24, 2017.

2. Taiwan’s initial national report under the CRPD was published on December 2, 2016, and the review panel will meet from October 30 to November 3, 2017.

B. Survey of existing laws and regulations

Vetting procedures for existing laws and regulations will be established for all levels of government, to include consultation with experts and the public. This survey—which will identify any laws, regulations or administrative measures in conflict with the CRC or CRPD—should be completed by 2019. Rules that do not comport with the two conventions will then be reassessed and improved through revision, repeal or new regulation where necessary.

III. Conclusion

Taiwan has taken upon itself to abide by the international standards established by the CRC and CRPD, together with the earlier ICCPR, ICESCR and CEDAW. In the future, the government will continue this work, with the protection of rights for children and the disabled as an administrative foundation. Guided by global human rights principles, Taiwan will ensure that all people enjoy the rights ushered in by the nation’s economic and social success.