Asian Studies Review 41(3) pp 405-423

Over the next quarter century it is likely that Southeast Asian countries will experience high levels of growth in the number of disabled people. It is therefore significant that, over the past decade, the region’s governments have at last ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). At this critical juncture, and in the face of ongoing human rights issues in several territories, this study presents comparative analysis of state and civil society organisations’ (CSOs’) discourse on CRPD implementation. The findings show that while governments have espoused a participatory approach to fulfilling their CRPD obligations, contemporary practice falls short. Disabled people currently experience barriers to shaping policy and accessing social welfare. There is a “disconnect” between state and civil spheres that hampers effective implementation based on partnership working and knowledge exchange. In turn, this raises issues of legitimation, performativity and the endurance of the Medical Model of Disability across the region.