Press Release

Ad Hoc Committee on Convention                             

 on Persons with Disabilities                              

1st & 2nd Meetings (AM & PM)

Committee drafting convention to protect rights of people

with disabilities opens two-week headquarters session

The United Nations committee that’s drafting the first-ever international convention on the rights of people with disabilities opened its fourth session this morning, aiming to complete the first reading of the draft and reach consensus on more than half the articles of the proposed instrument by the close of the session on 3 September.

Addressing such issues as equal recognition of disabled persons before the law, the right to work, personal mobility and promotion of positive attitudes, the 25-article treaty will create a legally binding framework for promoting the rights of the world’s 600 million people with disabilities.

During its current session, the General Assembly Ad Hoc Committee on a Comprehensive and Integral International Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities is also expected to tackle such issues as the convention’s title, its structure and its definition.  Also planned are various side-events and panels, including briefings and panel discussions organized by the European Union, United States, France, Japan, the Center for International Rehabilitation, the World Rehabilitation Fund, Support Coalition International and others.

Opening the session, the Committee’s Chairman, Luis Gallegos Chiriboga (Ecuador) said that, with nearly 600 million people worldwide living with either physical or mental disabilities, delegations should dedicate the next two weeks to building on the important work done by the Working Group this past January, in the spirit of advancing the international movement to ensure the dignity, individual autonomy and independence of all persons with disabilities.

Calling on all delegations to “overcome their minor differences” in order to quickly prepare an international convention that could meet the expectations of so many people, he urged the Committee to move beyond procedural matters and to work towards the broadest consensus possible on substantive issues.  State representatives, and representatives of non-governmental organizations and civil society, should all work transparently towards this common goal, he said, because there was little chance that societies could ever become truly integrated unless the limitations imposed on persons with disabilities were overcome.

The treaty under negotiation was proposed to the General Assembly by Mexico in 2001, in the face of growing international recognition of disability rights as human rights.  It aims to protect and promote the rights of persons with disabilities -- seeking to move beyond the traditional concept of access to the physical environment to include broader issues -- including equal access to education, employment, health, and political participation.

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