1 September 2010
General Assembly
HR/5030

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

States Parties to Convention

on Rights of Persons with Disabilities

1st & 2nd Meetings (AM & PM)


States Parties to Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Open


Three Day Headquarters Session, Elect New Members to Monitoring Body

 


Department for Economic and Social Affairs Head Says Inequalities Faced

By Persons with Disabilities Must Be Addressed — Notably by Ratifying Convention


The third Conference of States Parties of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities opened today amid calls to equally include disabled persons in community life, health and education systems, and to effectively fill planning and execution gaps in Government strategies that often fell short of addressing their needs, especially in times of conflict or natural disaster.


The three-day session was convened under the theme of “Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities through the Implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities”.  During its first day, in two separate, multi-round elections, delegates renewed and expanded the membership of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities — charged with reviewing periodic reports from States parties, raising concerns, if necessary, and making recommendations.


In opening remarks, Sha Zukang, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, said persons with disabilities were most likely to be poor and lack access to equal social, health, education and employment services.  There was a collective responsibility to address those inequalities, notably by signing and ratifying the Convention and its Optional Protocol.  In the past year, the number of signatures and ratifications had more than doubled, with 146 signatories and 90 ratifications to date.


“These results represent remarkable progress in a short period of time,” he said, adding that some States also had taken measures to implement the Convention, strengthening legislative frameworks or creating new legislation. 


But despite such progress, there was much more to be done.  He said fewer than half of all States had ratified the Convention and its Optional Protocol.  At implementation level, there was a lack of expertise on planning and executing Government strategies to address disabled persons’ needs.  Expertise was also needed for mainstreaming disabled persons into educational systems, and addressing their needs during natural disaster and armed conflict.  With assistance from Governments, among others, “we will succeed in advancing the human rights and economic and social needs of persons with disabilities,” he said.


Navanethem Pillay, High Commissioner for Human Rights, in a video message said the meeting’s agenda carried far-reaching implications for the well-being, participation, inclusion and personal growth of people with disabilities.  The focus on situations of risk was particularly timely, because the needs of disabled persons were often neglected in crises, and much more must to be done in that area.  The expanded Committee would now have more expert capacity and would be able to engage in further substantive activities, such as communications, petitions and inquiry visits.  Increased demands on the Committee’s capacity, however, must be matched with commensurable resources.


During the first stage of elections, held in the morning, States Parties re-elected Ronald Clive McCallum (Australia), Edah Wangechi Maina (Kenya) and Lotfi Ben Lallahom (Tunisia), and elected Theresia Degener (Germany), Hyung Shik Kim (Republic of Korea) and Carlos Rios Espinosa (Mexico) to the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities for four-year terms beginning on 1 January 2011 and ending on 31 December 2014.  They replace those whose mandates expire on 31 December 2010.


In the lengthy second stage of elections, held in the afternoon, States Parties elected six additional members to the Committee, expanding it from 12 to 18 seats, in accordance with article 34 of the Convention, which holds that after an additional sixty ratifications or accessions to the Convention, the Committee’s membership shall increase by six members, attaining a maximum number of 18.  In four rounds of voting, States Parties elected Gábor Gombos (Hungary), Damjan Tatic (Serbia), Stig Langvad (Denmark), Silvia Judith Quang Chang (Guatemala), and Fatiha Hadj Salah (Algeria), and re-elected Germán Xavier Torres Correa (Ecuador) to the Committee.


Immediately following the fourth round, Chairman Claude Heller (Mexico), in a blind tirage, selected three of the six additional members elected to serve for two-year terms of office, beginning on 1 January 2011 and ending 31 December 2014:  Gábor Gombos (Hungary), Silvia Judith Quang Chang (Guatemala) and Fatiha Hadj Salah (Algeria).  Damjan Tatic ( Serbia), Stig Langvad ( Denmark) and Germán Xavier Torres Correa ( Ecuador) will serve a four-year term of office, beginning 1 January 2011 and ending 31 December 2014.


The Conference of States Parties of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 2 September, to hold a round-table discussion on “Inclusion and the right to education”.


Background


The Third Conference of States Parties of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities today opened a three-day meeting at United Nations Headquarters in New York, under the theme “Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities through the Implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities”.  Participants — including States bound by the Convention, along with observers and civil society organizations — were expected to discuss ways to ensure that persons with disabilities were fully integrated in the life of their communities and that their educational needs were adequately considered.  (For more information, please see Press Release HR/5029)


Opening remarks


Opening the meeting, CLAUDE HELLER ( Mexico) said the Conference provided an appropriate forum for discussion among State signatories, Committee experts and organizations representing persons with disabilities of the best practices for implementing the Convention.  The Conference would analyse issues such as inclusion, the right to education and community life, and persons with disabilities in situations of risk or humanitarian emergency.


He said one particular segment would examine progress made by the United Nations to ensure that persons with disabilities were included in a cross-cutting manner in the Organization’s work.  Noting that article 24 of the Convention must be promoted alongside others, such as those on accessibility and the right to live independently, he underscored that the radical changes needed for societies to become aware of persons with disabilities could receive major momentum from the upcoming discussions.


SHA ZUKANG, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, calling the Convention a critical international human rights instrument, said its implementation called for policies, programmes and evaluation measures to promote the full and equal participation of persons with disabilities.  Delegates had gathered today to evaluate progress and better understand implementation gaps


As persons with disabilities were most likely to be poor and lack access to equal social, health, education and employment services, it was the global community’s collective responsibility to address those inequalities, he said.  The human rights of persons with disabilities must be better protected, including the right to education. Communities must adapt to the needs of persons with disabilities, where possible, and change the hearts and minds of the public about disabled persons.


One such way was through signature and ratification of the Convention and its Optional Protocol, he said, noting that in the past year, the number of signatures and ratifications had more than doubled.  There were 146 signatories and 90 ratifications to date.  “These results represent remarkable progress in a short period of time” he said. He was also pleased to report that some States had gone further, taking measures to implement the Convention, notably by strengthening legislative frameworks or creating new legislation, such as anti-discrimination laws, and revising building codes.  Moreover, a number of countries had created or improved the monitoring of the conditions of persons with disabilities.


Applauding the mainstreaming of disability issues into programmes related to the Millennium Development Goals, he also highlighted improved data collection and statistics on persons with disabilities related to Millennium Development Goals progress.  At the upcoming Summit on the Millennium Goals, States, with support from today’s participants, could make a push in the next five years to ensure that persons with disabilities benefited from the full spectrum of Millennium Development Goals activities.


Despite such progress, there was much more to be done, he said.  Fewer than half of all States had ratified the Convention and its Optional Protocol, and he called on those that had not done so to sign and ratify those instruments.  At the implementation level, there was a lack of expertise on planning and executing Government strategies to address the needs of persons with disabilities.  Expertise was also needed for mainstreaming persons with disabilities into educational systems.  Indeed, it was unacceptable that millions of children were not taught to read and write due to their physical or mental disabilities.  Such changes would require collaboration with education experts at all levels.


Another challenge was how to address disability needs during natural disaster and armed conflict.  “We, the international community, need to ensure that in humanitarian operations, these persons receive prioritized access to aid,” he stressed.  The added costs of doing so were minimal and brought untold benefits.  With the assistance from Governments, civil society and the private sector, among others, “we will succeed in advancing the human rights and economic and social needs of persons with disabilities,” he said.  An important first step would be for all who had not done so to sign, ratify and implement the Convention and its Optional Protocol without delay.


NAVANETHEM PILLAY, High Commissioner for Human Rights, in a video message welcomed participants and said she was encouraged by the continued steady pace of ratification of the Convention and its optional Protocol, commenting that the upcoming consideration of States parties reports, along with the ability for individuals to file petitions in cases of non-compliance, gave the Committee a tool for accountability.


Outlining some recent activities of the Committee, she encouraged all participants to actively follow its work as well as the annual debates of the Human Rights Council on the rights of persons with disabilities.  She said that the items on the agenda at the current meeting carried far-reaching implications for the well-being, participation, inclusion and personal growth of people with disabilities.  The discussion on situations of risk was particularly timely, because the needs of people with people with disabilities were often neglected in crises and much more needed to be done in that area.


She hoped that the expanded membership, in addition, strengthened the ability of the Committee to discharge its functions effectively.  She voiced the wish to see, in the near future, experts with disabilities nominated and elected for the other human rights treaty bodies.  She concluded by emphasizing the importance of submitting timely reports as required by the Convention.  States’ support was also crucial to expand ratification of the Convention and its Optional Protocol, and to implement the recommendations of the Committee.


She stressed that the expanded Committee would now have more expert capacity and would be able to engage in further substantive activities, such as communications, petitions and inquiry visits.  The international community, she said, had the responsibility to ensure that the increased demands on the Committee’s capacity were matched with commensurable resources, to help turn the letter of the Convention into reality for persons with disabilities worldwide.


Voting


States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities elected six members to the 12-member Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to serve four-year terms, beginning on 1 January 2011 and ending 31 December 2014.  Those elected will replace members whose mandates expire on 31 December 2010.


By the terms of the Convention, Committee members shall be eligible for re-election once.  However, the term of six of the members elected at the first election, in 2008, shall expire at the end of two years, making today’s election necessary.


Members whose mandates expire on 31 December 2010 are:  Edah Wangechi Maina (Kenya); György Könczei (Hungary); Cveto Uršič (Slovenia); Ronald Clive McCallum (Australia); Germán Xavier Torres Correa (Ecuador); and Lotfi Ben Lallahom (Tunisia).


Voting Results


The results of the balloting were as follows:


Number of ballot papers:

88

Number of invalid ballots:

2

Number of valid ballots:

86

Abstentions:

0

Present and voting:

86

Required (absolute) majority:

44


Number of votes obtained:


Ronald Clive McCallum (Australia)

48

Edah Wangechi Maina (Kenya)

43

Hyung Shik Kim (Republic of Korea)

40

Theresia Degener (Germany)

35

Fatiha Hadj Salah (Algeria)

31

Lotfi Ben Lallahom (Tunisia)

28

Silvia Judith Quang Chang (Guatemala)

27

Carlos Rios Espinosa (Mexico)

26

Damjan Tatic (Serbia)

26

Gábor Gombos (Hungary)

25

Luis Guillermo Bulit Goni (Argentina)

22

Stig Langvad (Denmark)

21

Germán Xavier Torres Correa (Ecuador)

20

Mukhtar bin Mohamed bin Mussalam Al Rawahi (Oman)

18

Berta Luz Pascual Melara (El Salvador)

18

Hatem A. Barri (Saudi Arabia)

12

Martin Mwesigwa Babu (Uganda)

11

Jaime Eulogio Huerta Peralta (Peru)

11

Lauor de Leon Purcil (Philippines)

11

Alpha Boubacar Diop (Guinea)

10

Sivalingum Moodley (South Africa)

10

Mwanalushi Muyunda (Zambia)

10

Nahid Mohamed Khairy (Sudan)

5


As the only candidate to have received the required number of votes, Ronald Clive McCallum (Australia), an incumbent, was re-elected to the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to a four-year term, beginning on 1 January 2011 and ending 31 December 2014.


Second Round of Voting


In a second round of voting, 10 candidates were considered, as the Rules of Procedure stipulate that there must be twice as many candidates as there are positions to fill:  Edah Wangechi Maina (Kenya); Hyung Shik Kim (Republic of Korea); Theresia Degener (Germany); Fatiha Hadj Salah (Algeria); Lotfi Ben Lallahom (Tunisia); Silvia Judith Quang Chang (Guatemala); Carlos Rios Espinosa (Mexico); Damjan Tatic (Serbia); Gábor Gombos (Hungary); and Luis Guillermo Bulit Goni (Argentina).  


The results of the balloting were as follows:


Number of ballot papers:

88

Number of invalid ballots:

1

Number of valid ballots:

87

Abstentions:

0

Present and voting:

87

Required majority:

44


Number of votes obtained:


Edah Wangechi Maina ( Kenya)

56

Theresia Degener ( Germany)

53

Hyung Shik Kim ( Republic of Korea)

50

Carlos Rios Espinosa ( Mexico)

49

Fatiha Hadj Salah ( Algeria)

39

Lotfi Ben Lallahom (Tunisia)

39

Gábor Gombos ( Hungary)

38

Damjan Tatic ( Serbia)

35

Silvia Judith Quang Chang ( Guatemala)

34

Luis Guillermo Bulit Goni ( Argentina)

26


Having obtained the required majority, Edah Wangechi Maina ( Kenya), Theresia Degener ( Germany), Hyung Shik Kim ( Republic of Korea) and Carlos Rios Espinosa ( Mexico) were elected to the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to a four-year term, beginning on 1 January 2011 and ending 31 December 2014.


As an incumbent member, Ms. Maina’s election was a re-election.


Third Round of voting


In a third round of voting, two candidates were considered:  Fatiha Hadj Salah (Algeria) and Lotfi Ben Lallahom (Tunisia), who both had received the same number of votes in the second round of voting.


The results of the balloting were as follows:


Number of ballot papers:

86

Number of invalid ballots:

0

Number of valid ballots:

86

Abstentions:

1

Present and voting:

85

Required majority:

43


Number of votes obtained:


Lotfi Ben Lallahom (Tunisia)

45

Fatiha Hadj Salah ( Algeria)

40


Having obtained the required majority of votes, Lotfi Ben Lallahom (Tunisia) was elected to the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to a four-year term, beginning on 1 January 2011 and ending 31 December 2014.


Election II


Delegates then turned their attention to the election of six additional members to the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  Article 34 of the Convention holds that, after an additional sixty ratifications or accessions to the Convention, the Committee’s membership shall increase by six members, attaining a maximum number of 18 members.


Candidates included all 17 candidates not elected in the first election:  Mukhtar bin Mohamed bin Mussalam Al Rawahi (Oman); Martin Mwesigwa Babu (Uganda); Hatem A. Barri (Saudi Arabia); Luis Guillermo Bulit Goni (Argentina); Alpha Boubacar Diop (Guinea); Gábor Gombos (Hungary); Fatiha Hadj Salah (Algeria); Jaime Eulogio Huerta Peralta (Peru); Nahid Mohamed Khairy (Sudan); Stig Langvad (Denmark); Sivalingum Moodley (South Africa); Mwanalushi Muyunda (Zambia); Berta Luz Pascual Melara (El Salvador); Lauor de Leon Purcil (Philippines); Silvia Judith Quang Chang (Guatemala); Damjan Tatic (Serbia); and Germán Xavier Torres Correa (Ecuador).


Voting Results


The results of the balloting were as follows:


Number of ballot papers:

86

Number of invalid ballots:

1

Number of valid ballots:

85

Abstentions:

0

Present and voting:

85

Required (absolute) majority:

43


Number of votes obtained:


Gábor Gombos ( Hungary)

47

Damjan Tatic ( Serbia)

45

Fatiha Hadj Salah ( Algeria)

39

Stig Langvad ( Denmark)

39

Silvia Judith Quang Chang ( Guatemala)

37

Germán Xavier Torres Correa ( Ecuador)

35

Luis Guillermo Bulit Goni ( Argentina)

32

Berta Luz Pascual Melara ( El Salvador)

28

Martin Mwesigwa Babu ( Uganda)

27

Lauor de Leon Purcil ( Philippines)

26

Jaime Eulogio Huerta Peralta ( Peru)

26

Mukhtar bin Mohamed bin Mussalam Al Rawahi ( Oman)

25

Sivalingum Moodley ( South Africa)

22

Alpha Boubacar Diop ( Guinea)

21

Mwanalushi Muyunda ( Zambia)

17

Hatem A. Barri ( Saudi Arabia)

16

Nahid Mohamed Khairy ( Sudan)

11


Having obtained the required majority, Gábor Gombos (Hungary) and Damjan Tatic (Serbia) were elected to the Committee.


Tie-breaker


As there had been a tie between Lauor de Leon Purcil ( Philippines) and Jaime Eulogio Huerta Peralta ( Peru), both of whom received 26votes, a separate vote was held to determine who would be among the eight candidates considered for the four remaining seats on the Committee.


Voting Results


The results of the balloting were as follows:


Number of ballot papers:

87

Number of invalid ballots:

2

Number of valid ballots:

85

Abstentions:

0

Present and voting:

85

Required (absolute) majority:

43


Number of votes obtained:


Lauor de Leon Purcil ( Philippines)

49

Jaime Eulogio Huerta Peralta ( Peru)

36


Having obtained the required majority, Lauor de Leon Purcil ( Philippines) won a place among the eight candidates for membership on the Committee.


Second Round of Voting


The eight candidates for the four remaining seats on the Committee were:  Fatiha Hadj Salah (Algeria); Stig Langvad (Denmark); Silvia Judith Quang Chang (Guatemala); Germán Xavier Torres Correa (Ecuador); Luis Guillermo Bulit Goni (Argentina); Berta Luz Pascual Melara (El Salvador); Martin Mwesigwa Babu (Uganda); and Lauor de Leon Purcil (Philippines).


Voting Results


The results of the balloting were as follows:


Number of ballot papers:

87

Number of invalid ballots:

0

Number of valid ballots:

87

Abstentions:

0

Present and voting:

87

Required (absolute) majority:

44


Number of votes obtained:


Stig Langvad (Denmark)

50

Silvia Judith Quang Chang ( Guatemala)

47

Fatiha Hadj Salah ( Algeria)

43

Luis Guillermo Bulit Goni ( Argentina)

43

Germán Xavier Torres Correa ( Ecuador)

41

Martin Mwesigwa Babu ( Uganda)

38

Lauor de Leon Purcil ( Philippines)

35

Berta Luz Pascual Melara ( El Salvador)

28


Having obtained the required majority, Stig Langvad (Denmark) and Silvia Judith Quang Chang (Guatemala) were elected to the Committee.


Third Round of Voting


The candidates for the two remaining seats on the Committee were Fatiha Hadj Salah (Algeria), Luis Guillermo Bulit Goni (Argentina), Germán Xavier Torres Correa (Ecuador) and Martin Mwesigwa Babu (Uganda).


Voting Results


The results of the balloting were as follows:


Number of ballot papers:

81

Number of invalid ballots:

0

Number of valid ballots:

81

Abstentions:

0

Present and voting:

81

Required (absolute) majority:

41


Number of votes obtained:


Fatiha Hadj Salah ( Algeria)

47

Germán Xavier Torres Correa ( Ecuador)

40

Luis Guillermo Bulit Goni ( Argentina)

37

Martin Mwesigwa Babu ( Uganda)

34


Having obtained the required majority, Fatiha Hadj Salah ( Algeria) was elected to the Committee.


Fourth Round of Voting


Germán Xavier Torres Correa (Ecuador) and Luis Guillermo Bulit Goni (Argentina) were the candidates for the one remaining seat on the Committee.


Voting Results


The results of the balloting were as follows:


Number of ballot papers:

86

Number of invalid ballots:

0

Number of valid ballots:

86

Abstentions:

3

Present and voting:

86

Required (absolute) majority:

44


Number of votes obtained:


Germán Xavier Torres Correa (Ecuador)

49

Luis Guillermo Bulit Goni (Argentina)

33


Having obtained the required majority, Germán Xavier Torres Correa ( Ecuador) was re-elected to the Committee.


Of those elected in the afternoon, Chairman Claude Heller (Mexico), in a blind tirage, then selected Gábor Gombos (Hungary), Silvia Judith Quang Chang (Guatemala) and Fatiha Hadj Salah (Algeria) to serve for a two-year term of office, beginning 1 January 2011 and ending 31 December 2014.  Damjan Tatic ( Serbia), Stig Langvad ( Denmark) and Germán Xavier Torres Correa ( Ecuador) will serve a four-year term of office, beginning 1 January 2011 and ending 31 December 2014.


* *** *


For information media • not an official record