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Inclusion International’s Position on the
Draft Comprehensive and Integral International Convention on the Protection
and Promotion of the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities
The member societies and leaders of Inclusion International have identified
several priority issues for a new Convention and we want to ensure that
these issues are understood and highlighted by the Ad Hoc Working Group.
‘Inclusion refers to the opportunity for persons with disabilities
to participate fully in all of the educational, employment, consumer,
recreational, community and domestic activities that typify everyday
society’ (Inclusion International)
We note with satisfaction that the concept of inclusion was regarded
as an essential part of the underlying principles of the Convention.
The wording used is “Full inclusion of persons with disabilities as
equal citizens and participants in all aspects of life”.
Inclusion requires a paradigm shift in society’s current view of people
with a disability as people who require special conditions to people
who must be enabled to fully participate in society with their disability
being accepted as part of their unique humanity. In other words a person
with a disability has the right to fully participate in the life of
their community and to be treated with dignity and respect regardless
of any disability they may or may not have.
The principle of self-determination is critically important to people
with intellectual disabilities. The failure to recognize the fundamental
right to make decisions (if necessary with support) has resulted in
institutionalization, forced sterilization and countless human rights
infractions for people with intellectual disabilities all over the world.
The term individual autonomy, including the right to make ones own choices,
was agreed upon to replace the principle of self-determination. Inclusion
International wants to ensure that the underlying concept be understood
by state parties and this principle is paramount in consideration of
all articles in the proposed convention.
On the issue of institutionalization, Inclusion International is unequivocal.
This Convention must express the right for persons with a disability
to live in the community where and with whom they choose. We must be
sure that a new Convention does not put people with disabilities at
risk of institutionalization and that State parties do not interpret
the Convention to justify the need for institutions.
Right to be Different
Inclusion International’s position is that the acceptance of difference
is a key factor in the acceptance of all people’s right to live in the
community. Disability must be seen as part of the natural human condition
and of ones humanity. Non-disabled people still need to recognise the
importance of this issue for those of us with a disability as acceptance
of our disability leads to acceptance of who we are as a person.
This was a topic of utmost importance to Inclusion International. It
is the view of our community that traditional guardianship laws are
used to control people’s lives and to deny people the right to make
decisions on their own behalf. This runs counter to the principle of
self-determination. What is needed is legal recognition of the legitimacy
of supported decision making. That is, a recognition that all people
require supports in order to make choices and decisions.
There are many jurisdictions that have adopted more progressive ways
to support people with disabilities to make decisions and receive legal
support and recognition of those decisions. Inclusion Internationals
position is that if people have access to legal assistance when this
support is required then the old guardianship laws will not be needed.
This is a crosscutting issue for consideration in all aspects of the
proposed Convention as guardianship legislation has often been used
to limit a persons right to make decisions about their own health, whether
they can marry, where they choose to live and even whether they choose
to live or die. It is of particular importance however in Article 7
(Equal Recognition before the Law). Again, a new Convention must provide
a basis for progressive state policies and not act as an incentive for
states to recreate legal and legislative mechanisms that retract the
rights and progress already made.
Inclusion International will only support a Convention that uses the
Salamanca Statement as a basis for the right to education for children
The fundamental principle of the inclusive school is that all children
should learn together, where ever possible, regardless of any difficulties
or differences they may have. Inclusive schools must recognize and respond
to the diverse needs of their students, accommodating styles and rates
of learning and ensuring quality education to all through appropriate
curricula, organizational arrangements, teaching strategies, resource
use and partnerships with communities. There should be a continuum of
support and services to match the continuum of special needs encountered
in every school. (Salamanca Framework for Action, Article 7)
As with many groups in society, some groups of people with disabilities
share a common culture and issues. While education systems have a responsibility
to provide education to all learners, school systems must also provide
special education which recognises the development of social and functional
skills as equally important to the development as of academic skills.
Deaf, Blind and Deafblind learners often require special education
because of their specific communication needs, such as sign language,
tactile sign language and Braille. Like all children, Deaf, Blind and
Deafblind children must have access to equal and quality education.
They can and should reach their full potential with appropriate, visual
or tactile, quality educational programmes and support. (Salamanca
The current article on education does not adequately establish that
States will take as part of their responsibility for educating all children
the inclusion of children with disabilities and it does not make clear
that children with disabilities and others who have been marginalized
are best educated in the regular school system with appropriate supports.
Due to their disability many people with a disability are subjected
to cruel and inhuman treatment. This not only a problem for those with
a disability who live in institutions. The risk of those who are vulnerable
to physical, sexual, psychological, emotional and all the other forms
of abuse must be recognised and acted on.
The United Nations estimates that 600 million people worldwide have
a disability of which 30% are believed to reside in an industrialized
country and 70% are believed to live in a developing country. However
even in the wealthy countries people with a disability usually belong
to the poorest socio-economic group as they are usually the last to
get paid work and they often have high costs associated with their disability.
A convention must support the development of strategies to ensure that
state policies and international cooperation for poverty reduction take
into account people who have a disability. This means examining not
only economic and labour market issues but also social policy issues
such as child care for women who have children with disabilities, nutrition,
access to education etc.
Right to Life-Valuing the life of all people and their right
to be different.
Inclusion International holds an unequivocal position on the valuing
of the life of all people and their right to be different. First, issues
regarding developments in bio-ethics must be considered. This includes
development in gene technology that may enable the genetic makeup of
a person to be changed so that less favoured characteristics are eliminated
and more favoured characteristics promoted.
Given the current general perception of the value of a person with
an intellectual disability (they are amongst the most marginalised people
in society) the implication for them is obvious. If society accepts
that the characteristics of a child not yet born should be changed,
then what does that say about the value of the life of all people with
an intellectual disability? It also is a denial of the concept of the
natural diversity of life and the value that a civil society places
on this concept.
The lives of future people with a disability are also at risk from
developments in prenatal tests that test for the presence of a disability.
Most people with a disability are born in developing counties and the
result of a positive test is perhaps obvious. In the more affluent countries
parents do come under pressure to terminate the pregnancy after a positive
test. This decision is reinforced by the assumption that such a person
being born will lead to greater social, health and care needs. While
this may be true it denies the richness through diversity that a person
with a disability can bring to the life of their family and community.
This is not an argument about a woman’s right to choice. It is about
the value society puts on diversity and the value of the lives of those
Is society going to distinguish between lives worth living and those
not worth living? If the answer is yes then we believe it will not be
people with a disability who make this decision.
Therefore we believe all people, regardless of any disability they
may or may not have, must have the same right to life and disability
must not become a justification for the termination of life.
This concept has been used in USA and Canada mainly in anti-discrimination
employment law. It requires the employer to take reasonable steps to
accommodate the needs of the individual, in particular those necessary
due to a disability. This obligation can be tested in law to determine
what is reasonable. Examples include making employment information more
accessible and changing work practices to accommodate a person’s disability.
However the employer does not have to make changes that will be detrimental
to work output. The employer must discuss with the employee the options
available and to get their input but the employer retains the right
to decide which option will be offered to achieve reasonable accommodation.
From the experience of states with reasonable accommodation clauses
and legislation, we know that many states are reluctant to place the
full responsibility of accommodation on the employer and ‘reasonable
accommodation” has been used to significantly limit the accommodation
provided in the workplace. There are some jurisdictions where the stat
has shared through employment support the responsibility for accommodation
in the workplace. Considering these experiences we encourage the Ad
Hoc Committee to consider that a more detailed paragraph on
reasonable accommodation should be elaborated under the right to work,
in addition to any draft article on reasonable accommodation elsewhere
in the Convention.
Main Issues of Concern for Inclusion International
In addition to the principles outlined above and their implications
for a new Convention, Inclusion International is concerned with four
specific issues in the draft text:
1) A new Convention must not put people with disabilities at risk of
being institutionalized. Any reference to the need for institutions
would be regressive and any interpretation of the responsibility of
the state to provide support as justification for institutionalization
must be eliminated.
2) Article 16 is much too closely based on out of date models for supports
and contains totally unacceptable references to 'subject to existing
resources'. Such a qualification would never be considered in relation
to girls or members of minorities. This article as it is currently drafted
would be regressive for many people who have a disability and in many
2) Article 17 on education does not provide a strong basis for inclusive
education with recognition of the needs of individual groups. The Salamanca
Statement must be the baseline for a new Convention.
3) Monitoring – The issue of monitoring is critical to the usefulness
of a new Convention. Many human rights commitments exist for people
with disabilities but the lack of mechanism for monitoring their implementation
has resulted in poor progress towards their realization. The fact that
the working group could not agree on monitoring is symptomatic of the
problem of implementation.
Given the very different legal, cultural, political and economic context
of our member societies, the challenge is to create a tool which can
be used anywhere in the world to promote inclusion. To be effective
in advancing Inclusion International’s vision, a UN Convention must
recognize that inclusion is the means to achieving human rights. A new
Convention has the potential to increase awareness of governments, international
agencies and the UN system of their responsibility to include people
with disabilities in all of their programmes, policies and financing.
We urge the ad hoc committee to consider the proposed Convention as
a tool for future generations, one that will stand the test of time
and point the way toward progress, not one that will inadvertently institutionalize
the status quo.