Development and human rights for all

Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

The Questions and Answers [WORD]

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol entered into force on 3 May 2008, thirty days after the deposit of the twentieth instrument of ratification or accession to the Convention.

In accordance with article 45, paragraph 2, the Convention enters into force for a State thirty days after the deposit of the instrument of ratification or accession with the Secretary-General.

1. How many members will the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities have?

In accordance with article 34 of the Convention, the Committee shall, at the time of entry into force of the Convention, be composed of twelve experts. 

After an additional sixty ratifications or accessions to the Convention, the membership of the Committee shall increase by six, attaining a maximum number of eighteen members.

2. How are members elected to the Committee?

The members of the Committee shall be elected by States parties with consideration being given to the following priorities:

- equitable geographical distribution;
- representation of different forms of civilization;
- representation of the principal legal systems;
- balanced gender representation; and
- participation of experts with disabilities.

The members of the Committee shall be elected by secret ballot from a list of persons nominated by the States parties from among their nationals at meetings of the Conference of States parties.  At those meetings, for which two-thirds of the States parties shall constitute a quorum, the persons elected to the Committee shall be those who obtain the largest number of votes and an absolute majority of the votes of the States parties present and voting.

3. How long are the terms of membership in the Committee?

The members of the Committee are elected for a term of four years and shall be eligible for re-election once. 

However, the term of six members elected at the first election shall expire at the end of two years.  The names of these six members shall be drawn by lot by the Chairperson of the Conference of States parties. Those Committee members whose terms expire two years after the first election can be eligible for re-election for a full four year term if re-nominated.

4. What are the qualifications of a Committee member?

The Convention provides that members of the Committee shall serve in their personal capacity.  That means that they do not represent any government or other organization but act as independent experts.  Members must also be of high moral standing and recognized competence and experience in the Convention. 


5. What are the activities to be undertaken by Committee members (during sessions and inter-sessionally) and what is the amount of time they should indicatively be prepared to dedicate to their function?

The Committee has three principal functions.  The first is the review of periodic reports on implementation and the constructive dialogue with States parties; the second is the receipt and examination of individual communications (complaints) under the Optional Protocol; and the third is the undertaking of inquiries in the case of reliable evidence of grave and systematic violations of the Convention (also under the Optional Protocol).

In addition, and in keeping with the practice of other treaty bodies, the Committee might decide to issue General Comments elaborating the meaning of the provisions of the Convention or cross-cutting themes and might hold Days of General Discussion with States, civil society, United Nations entities and other international organizations.

Committee members should be prepared at a minimum to attend Committee meetings in Geneva, possibly two or three times a year for three weeks each.  Committee members are also required to prepare for sessions by reading States parties’ reports, as well as documents submitted by civil society and other organizations.  In addition, under the Optional Protocol, Committee members will have to review individual communications (complaints) and may be required to undertake in-country inquiries. 

Many Committee members also undertake tasks in the inter-session period such as the preparation of first drafts of General Comments, or attending meetings of meetings of human rights treaty bodies and meetings of Chairpersons of those bodies convened in Geneva.

6. How are Committee members funded (including information on emoluments)?

Committee members do not receive an honorarium although the Convention states that, with the approval of the General Assembly, Committee members shall receive emoluments.  Currently, the General Assembly has indicated that emoluments for members of treaty bodies should only be nominal. The United Nations will cover all transportation costs for Committee members via the most economical route in the class below first class and members receive a generous daily subsistence allowance during sessions and when traveling on Committee business (currently 486 USD per day).

7. What do "facilities, privileges and immunities" consist of?

Article 34, paragraph 13 of the Convention provides that members of the Committee shall be entitled to the facilities, privileges and immunities of experts on mission for the United Nations as laid down in the relevant sections of the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations.

The relevant facilities, privileges and immunities include such things as immunity from personal arrest or detention and from seizure of personal baggage, inviolability for all papers and documents, and diplomatic immunities and facilities in respect of personal baggage.  A full list of facilities, privileges and immunities for UN experts on mission can be found in Section 22 of the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations (1946): http://www1.umn.edu/humanrts/instree/p&i-convention.htm

It should be noted that privileges and immunities apply in relation to the official functions of a Committee member, not generally.

8. What is the process for a State party to nominate an expert for the Committee?

In accordance with article 34, the Secretary-General shall address a letter to the States parties at least four months before the date of each election inviting them to submit nominations within two months.  Prior to the elections, the Secretary-General shall prepare a list in alphabetical order of all persons nominated, including their biographical data, and indicating the States parties which have nominated them.  The list will be made public and will be available in all United Nations languages.

When nominating candidates for election to the Committee, States parties are invited to give due consideration to article 4, paragraph 3 of the Convention, by which persons with disabilities, including children with disabilities, through their representative organizations shall be closely consulted and actively involved in issues relating to the implementation of the Convention.

9. What is the deadline for nominations?

In accordance with article 34 of the Convention, all nominations are to be submitted within two months from the date of the request for nominations.  States parties are strongly encouraged to submit nominations by the identified deadline so as to ensure that the list of candidates thus nominated, together with their biographical data, may be compiled into a Secretary-General’s note and made available in all languages in a timely manner.  Late nominations received after the deadline by the Secretary-General will be circulated in an addendum to that document.  Additional nominations received by the Secretary-General after the issuance of the primary note and, as appropriate, of the additional note, are brought to the attention of the States parties during the elections.  It is a matter for the States parties present at the Conference of States parties to accept such late nominations.

10.   How can States participate in the Conference of States parties?

For a State to participate in the Conference of States parties as a State party, the Convention must have entered into force for that State.  In accordance with article 45, paragraph 2, the Convention enters into force for a State thirty days after the deposit of the instrument of ratification or accession with the Secretary-General.  Consequently, if the Convention has entered into force for a State, it can participate in the Conference of States parties and elect Committee members.

      11.   What is the role of civil society?

As noted above, States parties are invited, when nominating candidates for election to the Committee, to give due consideration to article 4, paragraph 3 of the Convention by which persons with disabilities, including children with disabilities, through their representative organizations shall be closely consulted and actively involved in issues relating to the implementation of the Convention. 
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 For more information on the Committee from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)