Skip navigation links Sitemap | About us | FAQs

UN Programme on Disability   Working for full participation and equality

Back to: Second Session of the Ad Hoc Committee
Documents of the Second Session

 

 

A/AC.265/2003/CRP/12

Ad Hoc Committee on a Comprehensive and Integral International Convention on Protection and Promotion of the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities
New York, 16-27 June 2003

Beirut Declaration and Recommendations on the elaboration of a comprehensive and integral international convention to promote and protect the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities

Outcome of the Arab Regional Conference on Norms and Standards Related to Development and the Rights of Persons with Disabilities held in Beirut from 27-29 May 2003*


* This document has also been issued by the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia as E/ESCWA/SDD/2003/WG.4/9

 

Beirut Declaration and Recommendations on the elaboration of a comprehensive and integral international convention to promote and protect the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities

BEIRUT DECLARATION

THE DRAFT INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION ON DISABILITY

We the representatives of the Arab Governments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), meeting in Beirut from 27 to 29 May 2003 at the Arab Regional Conference on Norms and Standards Related to Development and the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and gathered here today to exchange views and address a unified Arab position on the draft comprehensive and integral international convention to promote and protect the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities,

Taking the opportunity offered by the Conference,

Declare that disabled persons, particularly in the Arab countries, face major challenges, which prevent them from assuming normal roles on an equal footing with other citizens in their societies and state that the primary factors that give rise to discrimination, marginalization and which affect the right to development are based on structural, institutional, legislative, procedural and cultural obstacles.

Drawing attention to the fact that number of difficulties continue to escalate within world societies and more specifically within Arab societies, including, continuous wars, increasing poverty, economic regression, absence of laws and legislation and lack of public awareness concerning the issue and causes of disability,

Taking note of The Arab Human Development Report 2002: Creating Opportunities for Future Generations, which examines the deterioration of certain aspects of life in the Arab countries, particularly in the areas of knowledge, freedom, economic growth and the empowerment of women, thereby having a direct and negative impact on persons with disabilities, in the domain of employment, health and social security and which denies the fundamental human right to development and social security,

Noting also that the United Nations has published a series of documents and resolutions based on rights and equality, and has carried out a number of activities aimed at alleviating discrimination, including the United Nations Decade of Disabled Persons 1983-1992, the World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons and the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities,

Noting further that despite these efforts and related initiatives, recommended measures have not been implemented, which entails a responsibility to ensure that future endeavours are more binding and intrinsically linked to supportive policies that enable the concerned parties to achieve their objectives,

Acknowledging that much progress has been made to highlight the issue of disability at the Arab and international levels, including in particular, the recognition of disability as an aspect of human rights,

Appreciating the role of disabled persons in addressing their cause and the increase in societal support for this issue, which has resulted in the launching of the Arab Decade of Disabled Persons, 2003-2012 and the issuing of the Arab Document, by the General Assembly Meeting of Rehabilitation International for the Arab Region, the Interlocutory Session on the Rights of People with Disabilities in the Arab World and the International Conference on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (Manama, 8-9 March 2002),

Noting that the Ad Hoc Committee is designated to consider the proposals related to a comprehensive and integral international convention to promote and protect the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities,

1. Call upon all Arab States, while endeavouring to secure every possible support for this convention, to support the draft international convention on disability and to actively participate in its development at the national, regional and international levels, in order to put it into effect;

2. Realize the importance of all parties concerned, including disabled persons, in the formulation of the convention, which will also cover issues related to mental disability, disabled women, disabled children, and the disabled elderly;

3. Desirous of ensuring the support of the convention, request the provision of technical and financial assistance to the developing countries, in order to secure its implementation;

4. Endeavour to secure the instruments of execution and of effective monitoring with the aim of attaining full implementation of the convention;

5. Request that follow-up actions to support the convention at the Arab regional level are undertaken and that the newly elected Special Rapporteur on disability of the Commission for Social Development for the period 2003-2005, Sheikha Hessa bint Khalifa bin Hamad Al-Thani of Qatar, is designated to assume a leading role in such actions.

Beirut, 29 May 2003

RECOMMENDATIONS

1. Concurrently with the Arab Regional Conference on Norms and Standards Related to Development and the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, two subordinate meetings were held with a view to drafting the recommendations to be issued by the Conference and the Beirut Declaration on the draft international convention on disability.

2. The meetings of the drafting committees concluded by grouping the Conference recommendations under the following headings:

  1. The draft international convention on disability;
  2. Empowerment and full participation;
  3. Rights;
  4. The family;
  5. Disability and poverty;
  6. Disability and armed conflict;
  7. Disability and the environment;
  8. Awareness, the media and networking.

3. It was then agreed to group the recommendations by the party concerned, namely, Governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), United Nations organizations and regional and international gatherings.

A. GENERAL RECOMMENDATIONS

4. Those present at the Conference condemned the Israeli occupation and all forms of oppression and armed conflict in the occupied Arab territories, on the grounds that they obstruct the goals of sustainable development and increase the number of disabled persons.

B. SPECIFIC RECOMMENDATIONS

5. Participants made specific recommendations under the headings set forth below and grouped by the party concerned.

1. The draft international convention on disability

(a) Recommendations to Governments

  1. Governments are urged to review and follow up the implementation of previously-signed regional and international instruments, treaties and agreements concerning human rights, the rights of disabled persons and disability issues, with a view to using them to evaluate any relevant new agreements;
  2. Governments are urged to study the draft international convention on disability and ensure that it is effectively worded and formulated;
  3. Governments are urged to establish local and national mechanisms and oversight institutions, analagous to those pertaining to the seven existing human rights instruments, in order to monitor and follow up implementation of the articles of the convention, should it be adopted and ratified;
  4. Arab Governments are urged to invite the families of disabled persons, specialists and experts to participate in the national task forces responsible for preparing the national report on the status of disabled persons before it is submitted to the special committee for the convention.

(b) Recommendations to non-governmental organizations

Civil society institutions, the families of disabled persons and non-governmental national and international human rights organizations are urged to form pressure groups in order to ensure the strict implementation of the convention

2. Empowerment and full participation

(a) Recommendations to Governments

  1. Governments are urged to formulate and implement a policy for full participation and non-discrimination, in accordance with the appropriate disability-related development standards. Such a policy should be considered integral to sustainable development policies;
  2. In dealing with disability issues, Governments should adopt a development procedure that focuses on educational standards, on the basis that awareness programmes, training and special equipment all form part of a comprehensive development system;
  3. National financial institutions should be urged to study innovative ways in which to assist Government sectors, NGOs and civil society institutions involved in training and rehabilitation to apply full participation programmes with respect to health and education and on the social, economic, political and environmental levels;
  4. All official parties working in the field of disability are urged to formulate a forward-planning methodology for any programmes for the full participation of persons with disabilities that fall within their remit, with a view to helping to reduce the level of difficulty facing full participation in the Arab region and reduce the cost of implementing such programmes;
  5. Governments are urged to provide persons with disabilities and their families with full moral and material support with respect to health, education and their social, economic and political needs, as well as to provide the support necessary to facilitate the participation process;
  6. Governments are urged to provide the appropriate training for teaching personnel within the public education system, with a view to effecting full participation programmes;
  7. Governments are urged to adopt technical standards and normative procedures in order to empower, develop the skills and build the capacities of persons with disabilities. To that end, they should employ the support of specialized bodies and institutions, with a view to providing sophisticated and technologically up-to-date training methods that will give persons with disabilities equal opportunities.

(b) Recommendations to non-governmental organizations

  1. Civil society institutions, disability-related and other NGOs and the private sector are encouraged to formulate strategies for working and negotiating with Governments and public sector institutions, in order to advance the position of persons with disabilities and provide them with skills that are appropriate to their capabilities and will permit them to generate income;
  2. The role of specialized civil society institutions should be activated by the convening, as part of a full participation strategy, of courses for the training and rehabilitation of persons with disabilities;
  3. Teachers, trainers and those working with or involved in the training and rehabilitation of persons with disabilities should be empowered by being given periodic training in technical standards and up-to-date specifications. Specialized institutions should institute an oversight mechanism and performance indicators;
  4. Specialized civil society institutions and NGOs are encouraged to support persons with disabilities with both academic and manual skills, with a view to developing their capacities, facilitating their participation and increasing their productivity.

3. Rights

(a) Recommendations to Governments

  1. Governments are urged to formulate laws, policies and legislation to promote the basic rights of persons with disabilities and guarantee them a life of dignity, strengthen their position and uphold their rights;
  2. Any existing legislation or regulations that include any type of discrimination against persons with disabilities should be rescinded;
  3. Legal barriers to the full social, economic and political participation in public life of persons with disabilities should be removed;
  4. Governments are urged to guarantee the right of security of tenure to persons with disabilities and their families, as part of sound urban administration;
  5. Governments are urged to establish local, national and regional monitoring mechanisms responsible for establishing the extent to which persons with disabilities are accorded their rights and for monitoring acts of discrimination against such persons, with a view to taking the appropriate legal measures to end such practices and condemn and penalize their perpetrators.

(b) Recommendations to non-governmental organizations

  1. Civil society institutions are urged to establish executive mechanisms to enable injured persons with disabilities and their families to challenge decisions and legislation that violates their rights at local and national level;
  2. Egalitarian and transparent national committees should be formed, the members of which should include persons with disabilities, representatives of disability-related organizations, the families of persons with disabilities and, in particular, mental disabilities, and specialized experts, and such committees should be viewed as a tool for bringing pressure to bear and for monitoring and overseeing the application of laws, legislation and regulations relating to the protection of the rights of persons with disabilities.

4. The family

(a) Recommendations to Governments

  1. Governments are urged to provide families with income support and strengthen their financial resources and to provide the necessary special equipment free of charge, in order to make it possible for persons with disabilities to participate fully in the local environment, and to make the necessary adjustments to their housing and their access thereto;
  2. Governments are urged to support and empower families and strengthen their capacity for meeting the needs of the disabled person. To that end, national and local support, counselling and training programmes should be organized with the participation of the local community and specialized institutions;
  3. Governments are urged to pay special attention to persons with mental disabilities and their families in any educational or development plans or programmes;
  4. Governments are urged to strengthen womens' role in the family and to provide them with moral and material support, in view of the fact that women are most often responsible for caring for children with disabilities;
  5. Health and educational advice should be offered to the families of persons with disabilities as part of local and national programmes;
  6. Services should be provided free of charge as part of reproductive health care programmes, in order to protect against disability;
  7. Medical checks should be obligatory before marriage and childbirth, with a view to the limitation and early detection of abnormalities.

(b) Recommendations to non-governmental organizations

  1. Civil society institutions are urged to strengthen the effective participation of persons with disabilities and their families in decision-making related to their situation and, in particular, to full participation, training and rehabilitation;
  2. The role played by the families of persons with disabilities should be upheld and their representation strengthened within official and unofficial organizations and institutions. Special emphasis is placed on the need for the families of persons with mental disabilities to be represented.

5. Disability and poverty

(a) Recommendations to Governments

  1. Insurance programmes, social security and security networks should be strengthened in order to provide basic protection for all and, in particular, for persons with disabilities who are indigent;
  2. Governments are urged to support and implement programmes and plans to eradicate poverty and limit its increase amongst the various groups of persons with disabilities and their families;
  3. Governments are urged to make independent budget allocations for the empowerment of persons with disabilities and building of their capacities for independence, with a view to ensuring that they have equality of opportunity;
  4. Employment opportunities for persons with disabilities and, in particular, the poorest thereof, should be strengthened and developed;
  5. Full participation should be ensured for indigent women with disabilities, given that they are most vulnerable to poverty.

(b) Recommendations to non-governmental organizations

  1. Encouragement should be given to the creative endeavours exerted by self-help groups, professional associations and civil society institutions with a view to ensuring that persons with disabilities have equal opportunities for productive work;
  2. Civil society institutions and NGOs should be encouraged to build partnerships with the private sector and national and international bodies working in the field of disability, in order to form pressure groups that work together in close solidarity and aim to train persons with disabilities for productive work.

6. Disability and armed conflict

(a) Recommendations to Governments

  1. Governments are urged to demand that the United Nations Security Council, all international bodies and relief organizations and the League of Arab States take action to put an immediate end to the armed violence that is a major cause of disability in the Arab region;
  2. Governments are called upon to provide material support to the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development of the League of Arab States, with a view to ensuring support and assistance for persons with temporary or permanent disabilities and, in particular, those with disabilities resulting from war or armed conflict;
  3. Governments are urged to establish a database and gather information on the various forms of disability that have been occasioned by the occupation and armed conflicts in Palestine, Iraq, southern Lebanon and the Syrian Arab Golan, with a view to providing those affected with every material and other support.

(b) Recommendations to non-governmental organizations

Civil society institutions and NGOs are urged to establish local umbrella organizations that bring together all institutions and groups that are active in the field of disability, with a view to providing direct assistance to the victims of armed conflict and, in particular, such victims as have disabilities.

7. Disability and the environment

(a) Recommendations to Governments

  1. The environment of the person with disabilities should be adapted in order ensure their freedom, independence and productivity;
  2. Governments are urged to establish an independent national and local system, in which civil society institutions and the private sector are involved, to give advance warning of natural disasters, ensure a rapid response thereto and take particular care of persons with disabilities during and in the aftermath of natural disasters;
  3. Governments are urged to establish local task forces to look into, in cooperation with the local authorities, the housing and living conditions within their local environment of persons with disabilities and ensure that living conditions are improved in urban and rural areas and that the hazards that encompass the health and safety of individuals and, in particular, those with disabilities, are minimized;
  4. Governments are urged to take the necessary measures to remove barriers to the full participation of persons with disabilities in urban and rural areas and ensure that such persons have equality of opportunity. Those measures should include the formulation of standards and directive principles that focus on the Arab building code adopted by the League of Arab States, which should be incorporated into buildings regulation systems;
  5. Governments and local authorities are urged to take the necessary measures to adapt the environment in such a way as to facilitate the movement of persons with disabilities in and around their homes and the buildings of public education, health, social, economic, financial and administrative facilities and on public transport.

(b) Recommendations to non-governmental organizations

Civil society institutions and NGOs actively involved in environmental protection and conservation are urged to intensify their endeavours with respect to disability-related issues and the adaptation of the urban and rural environment to ensure independence and freedom of movement for persons with disabilities.

8. Awareness, the media and networking

(a) Recommendations to Governments

  1. Governments are urged to formulate national programmes for raising awareness of the rights and situation of persons with disabilities; (ii) Governments are urged to provide access to information technologies and electronic networks in order to enable persons with disabilities to exercise their rights to work, education and participation in relevant activities at national and international level;
  2. Governments are urged to include pedagogics in general educational curricula in order to raise the awareness of children and youth of disability and persons with disabilities and the purposes of full participation;
  3. Governments are urged to raise awareness, amongst women, children and elderly persons in particular, of medical conditions that can cause disability. Programmes should include advice with respect to health, mental health, social and cultural affairs and recreation;
  4. Governments are urged to use specialized technology and the Internet for the purpose of raising awareness, training, education and study, and to enable persons with disabilities to employ such technology;
  5. Governments are urged to raise awareness of disability-related issues in all sectors of the population and to introduce the appropriate terminology for working in the field of persons with disabilities that was proposed in the 1982 World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons. Some of the most important of those terms are "prevention", "rehabilitation", "equalization of opportunity", "impairment", "disability" and "handicap";
  6. Governments are urged to continue to devote every attention and the necessary resources to action aimed at raising awareness amongst persons with disabilities and their families of the various types of disability and, in particular, mental disability, and to exert additional endeavours in the interests of those who live in remote and impoverished areas. Innovative approaches to awareness raising should be encouraged, including such practices as the "polarization of needs".

(b) Recommendations to non-governmental organizations

  1. Civil society institutions and NGOs are urged to form coalitions and national umbrella organizations that bring together the various parties involved in issues relating to disability, persons with disabilities and their families, and to form local and national networks that operate at regional and international levels in order to support the situation of persons with disabilities and assist them in realizing their goals;
  2. Civil society institutions are urged to form pressure groups in order to strengthen the partnership between Governments, civil society and the private sector, with a view to facilitating the flow of information by electronic means and making information available to persons with disabilities and their families. National and local sites should be established on the Internet in order to facilitate the swift interchange of information;
  3. Civil society institutions are urged to establish partnerships with local authorities and the private sector with a view to providing training centres that will offer persons with disabilities access to information technology and the Internet.

(c) Recommendations to United Nations organizations and all other international and regional bodies

  1. Issues relating to disability, persons with disabilities and their families should be championed by every means at regional and international level;
  2. Observations should be made of the impact in the Arab region of armed conflicts, wars and the use of internationally outlawed weapons, all of which cause disability, and those responsible should be held accountable before the International Criminal Court; (iii) Emphasis should be placed on the fundamental role of the family in achieving development and carrying out full participation programmes;
  3. The Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) is urged to devote a page of its Internet site to the situation of persons with disabilities in general and, in particular, to issues relating to persons with disabilities and their families and organizations working in the field of disability in Iraq, Palestine and the occupied Arab territories;
  4. The Commission is further urged to include the disabled population in its statistical studies, while ESCWA member countries are urged to include persons with disabilities in general population censuses and to take action to standardize the terms "disability" and "persons with disabilities" throughout the Arab region.

Return to top

 

 

 


Home | Sitemap | About us | FAQs | Contact us

United Nations, 2007
Department of Economic and Social Affairs
Division for Social Policy and Development