The Citizens Initiative on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Nicaragua was proposed by the Federation of Associations of Persons with Disabilities (“FECONORI”).
Problems and Purpose
The Citizens Initiative on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Nicaragua was proposed by the Federation of Associations of Persons with Disabilities (“FECONORI”). The participatory planning process engaged with the citizens and partner organizations so that laws and policies that directly affected people who have a disability would be monitored. Also, had FECONORI not continued dialogue with the public, as well as the legislature, the laws that directly affect people with disabilities in Nicaragua would not change for the better or monitored properly.
The initiative was proposed so that Law 202 on the Prevention, Rehabilitation and Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities could be reformed because the initial law limited the rights of persons with disabilities; therefore, action needed to be taken so that the law would change.
Certain problems that needed to be addressed include the inclusivity aspect in schools, work environments, and housing, which would allow for people with disabilities to be included in major policy conversations. There are many resources that need to be devoted to people with disabilities; so attention needs to be drawn to the lack of proper resources. Lastly, the purpose of the project that FECONORI is trying to accomplish is the advancement of the rights of people with disabilities around the eight topics they considered most relevant for their inclusion in society: accessibility, employability, health, education, social care, protection of women and children, preparedness for emergencies, and institutional support of local organizations.
Background History and Context
Prior to Law 202 and the ratification of Law 202, citizens of Nicaragua who had a disability hardly had any sort set aside resources that they could use. For instance, many children were completely unable to attend school, which is why FECONORI planned to raise awareness and make changes for the future. Also, many people were unable to go to work, which made for many other issues; such as homelessness.
The timeline for this case is: pre 2007 Law 202 was enacted, in 2008 Nicaragua ratifies the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, in 2009 FECONORI begins to promote Citizens’ Initiative on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, in 2010 Nicaragua ratified optional protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, in 2010 FECONORI continued to promote Citizens’ Initiative on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, in 2011 the National Assembly approved the Citizens’ Initiative on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, so that the initiative became law (Act 763, Act on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities) there was, however, still no budget or responsible authority to implement and monitor application of the new act, or any clear coordination with other legislation that already existed in the area of disability, and lastly, in 2014 FECONORI conducted a survey that displayed what prevents persons with disabilities from being included in school, vocational training and day to day work activities. The goal of the study was to continue to identify weakness in the different public systems, and to raise the awareness surrounding initiatives and actions that are being taken to include persons with disabilities in the different areas of life.
FECONORI has taken steps to work with organizations that are focused on inclusion and it has worked to develop a partnership between policy makers and civil society entities. The goal of the programs that are focused on school is to develop the skills and knowledge that the teachers have surrounding people with different disabilities, and it is to also include different tools that are available to people with disabilities. As well as introduce the idea of inclusivity to the community, teachers, and policy makers. FECONORI needed the help from the citizens because the legislature is forced to listen to citizen under the guidelines provided by agenda initiative processes.
Organizing, Supporting, and Funding Entities
Partner organizations in Nicaragua include:
FECONORI -– Federación Nicaraguense de Asociones de Personas con Discapacid, which was involved in the entire process, from promoting the initiative to performing the survey.
Nicaragua’s National Assembly – The assembly must listen to proposals that citizens of Nicaragua present to them.
Unfortunately, even though there are partner organizations, there is still no proper budget to implement the new act or any responsible authority to implement and monitor the program application while coordinating different efforts that help the overall success of the program.
Participant Recruitment and Selection
Although public documentation does not exist, it is likely that organizers collected signatures from people randomly in communities so that they could grasp how many people were interested in helping people in their community who have disabilities, and so that they could physically show the legislature who was in need of the policy changes. Also, FECONORI completed surveys to understand the needs of the people with disabilities in Nicaragua, even after the new law as enacted.
People reached out to different organizations in Nicaragua that have a presence in the community, so that those organizations could expand the efforts of the Citizens’ Initiative on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Methods and Tools Used
One of the most important citizen engagement processes for this particular case is the agenda initiative process. The agenda initiative process is a direct democracy procedure which enables citizens to submit a proposal that must be considered by the legislature, but is not necessarily put to vote of the electorate.
Elements of network governance and deliberative/persuasive governance appear throughout this case. The elements that appear are a coalition that is mostly decentralized; includes non-state entities; operates through cultivation of relationships, coordination, cooperation, collaboration, and persuasion; involves multiple actors, including citizens; and emphasizes negotiation, cooperation, collaboration, persuasion.
The last citizen engagement process that played an important role in this case is that FECONORI had to continue dialogue with the citizens, partnering organizations, and the legislature, so that Law 202 would be ratified.
What Went On: Process, Interaction, and Participation
In Nicaraguan communities, public participation is needed; therefore, the public needs to be made aware of the inclusion issues that people with disabilities face in Nicaragua. Agendas were developed with the intent to be given to communities so that the communities could propose solutions for people with disabilities and then present that information to people who are in charge of the public sector and public entities; such as, mayors and different public officials. FECONORI used the citizens initiative process to rally support for a new law to the national assembly. Signatures were collected and presented to the President of the National Assembly so that the president could see that the community was interested in looking after the well-being of people in the community who have a disability.
“The agendas propose actions to advance the rights of people with disabilities around the eight topics they considered most relevant for their inclusion in society: accessibility, employability, health, education, social care, protection of women and children, preparedness for emergencies, and institutional support of local organizations.”
Influence, Outcomes, and Effects
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Analysis and Lessons Learned
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 Global Communities Partners for Good. 2017. Retrieved from https://www.globalcommunities.org/node/38530.
Citizens' Initiative on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Latinno. Retrieved from https://latinno.net/en/case/14020/.
Agenda Initiative in the World. International Idea Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance. Retrieved from https://www.idea.int/news-media/media/agenda-initiative-world
Nicaragua. My Right Empowers People with Disabilities. Retrieved from http://myright.se/english/myright-in-the-world/nicaragua/.
World Health Organization, 10 Facts on Disability, Retrieved from https://www.who.int/features/factfiles/disability/en/.
The original submission of this case entry was written by Christian Scott, a Master of Public Service candidate at the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service. The views expressed in the current version are those of the authors, editors, or cited sources, and are not necessarily those of the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service.