Different - yet equal: the historical development of disability discrimination legislation in the US, the UK, Canada and Australia

James Justice Bond
This thesis examines the historical development of anti-discrimination policy in four jurisdictions, with an emphasis on persons with disabilities. It details the development of disability discrimination legislation in the US and Australia, and of equality legislation in the UK and Canada. It is argued that more equitable policies have co-evolved with historical changes in the social construction of marginalised individuals. More specifically, the study employs an historical institutionalist
more » ... mework to investigate the array of factors driving the evolution of the human rights institutions in each country. The case studies throw up a wealth of factors, but two major factors stand out, one structural, the other agential. The major structural factor is federalism. In the three federal nation-states the national jurisdiction shares power and competencies with subnational jurisdictions, with implications for human rights legislation at the federal level. This contrasts with the UK, a unitary state, but with its sovereignty now constrained by the European Union. The major agential factor is the nature, institutional location and timing of activism promoting human rights. The study highlights several prominent political and academic actors, who initiate new policy proposals in response to (and utilising) critical junctures in the history of human rights institutions in each country. The thesis concludes by indicating that a fertile area of future research lies in the exploration of the lineage, transmission and development of the ideas centred on human rights and justice argued by such entrepreneurs.
doi:10.25949/19431848.v1 fatcat:mjur32qxvjgptfq6izfeau67ou