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UN Programme on Disability   Working for full participation and equality

The Views of the Special Rapporteur on Disability
on the Proposed Supplement to the Standard Rules
Submitted to the Third Committee of the General Assembly
October 4-6, 2004


I would like to first start by thanking you for giving me the opportunity to present my views on the adoption of the Supplement to the Standard Rules. This is a matter of great significance to me in my work as Special Rapporteur on Disability. For me the 14 issues included in the Supplement are as important as the Standard Rules themselves. Therefore, I would urge you to adopt the Supplement to the Standard Rules.

Ten years of monitoring the implementation of the Standard Rules worldwide has shown that, though important progress had been made in many areas, specific topics had not received adequate attention and thus require further elaboration.

The Supplement, therefore, would enhance the Standard Rules by adding important content to the Rules. it would also create opportunities to better monitor critical issues that have received inadequate attention. This is precisely why, in anticipation of their adoption, I have already integrated many of these additional issues into the monitoring system of the Standard Rules that I have developed. In doing so, I believe, the frameworks for their implementation can quickly be brought to the same level as those of issues in the Standard Rules.

While all of the topics included in the Supplement are of equal importance, adequately addressing all of them simultaneously would be an enormous undertaking, requiring human and financial resources that are not immediately available. The large number of topics in the Supplement, in addition to the ongoing process of monitoring the implementation of the Standard Rules, necessitates the selection of a few of the items in the Supplement for immediate attention, with a view to addressing the remaining items progressively.

If the Supplement is adopted, I would therefore propose to focus first on the specific issues of children with disabilities, gender, adequate standard of living and poverty alleviation, and developmental and psycho-social disabilities. I highlight these particular topics because they are priority issues that I am already focusing on, and because they are the subjects of ongoing work in the UN. They are issues that the UN system has recognized as needing special attention and therefore it would stand to reason that people with disabilities belonging to these groups would also require additional attention.

The addition of these 14 new areas to the existing will require further coordination between the organizations within the UN system. It will also require a shift in the monitoring system, placing more emphasis on the role played by international organizations and the respective regions in which they conduct their work.

Cross-sector cooperation is critical to ensuring that disability continues to evolve from a special or separate issue to an integrated component of the mainstream human rights framework. This is the objective of the  twin-track model that has attained wide support. Such cooperation also ensures that the best information and practices are available for analysis and development.

Furthermore, it would be important to identify NGOs with special expertise in these issues, seek their advice and collaboration in the development of proposed initiatives for States to undertake in national monitoring and implementation efforts. Such consultation would be done in conjunction with the Panel of Experts, but also with local, national and other international NGOs whose work is particularly relevant to the topics identified. The goal of this wide consultative process would be 1) to examine the issues on the local, national and international levels, addressing in particular planning and resource issues; and 2) to determine how the expertise of civil society can best be utilized to ensure the best outcomes in implementation.

In order to facilitate the elaborate monitoring tools for the implementation of each of the 14 areas, and subject to available resources, it would be appropriate to convene topical expert meetings involving stakeholders from all sectors: the United Nations and specialized agencies, governments and civil society.

The above activities, along with the existing Standard Rules would provide us with a powerful, comprehensive measurement tool which would enable us to both promote and to improve our understanding of the impact of implementation on the quality of life of people with disabilities.

The adoption of the Supplement to the Standard Rules is an important step in ensuring that the Rules address the many issues that have emerged as priorities over the past years. However, we must remember that the Standard Rules is just one instrument in the body of UN instruments that address  or should address  persons with disabilities. The Convention for the Protection and Promotion of the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities is another extremely important tool. Adopting the Supplement would enhance the compatibility of the Standard Rules with the Convention, and serve to strengthen the articles of the Convention. With addition of the 14 critical issues the Standard Rules will truly become the procedural guideline for monitoring the implementation of the articles of the Convention.

Thank you for your attention.

Hissa Al Thani
Special Rapporteur on Disability

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