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Back to: Third Session of the Ad Hoc Committee
Daily summary of discussions

Daily summary of discussions related to

UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities
Third session of the Ad Hoc Committee - Daily Summary
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Volume 4, #1
May 24, 2004

Commenced: 10:28 AM
Adjourned: 12:56 PM

The Coordinator opened discussion on Article 1: “The purpose of this Convention shall be to ensure the full, effective and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by persons with disabilities.”

Bahrain asked the group to discuss the Title of the Convention. It suggested the International Convention on the Disabled. The Chair stated the title will be discussed at a later time.

Korea called for a separate article on women with disabilities similar to that for children with disabilities. It was flexible as to how this could done and will distribute suggested language.

Argentina stated its support for the alternative wording in footnote 8, which reads, “The purpose of this Convention shall be to protect and promote the rights of persons with disabilities." Such language would reflect that the purpose of the Convention is an obligation.

Ireland, on behalf of the European Union (EU) emphasized that Article 1 should be short and to the point. It proposed deleting the word “effective” because the meaning is unknown, and that it implies a lesser commitment than the language of "full and equal."

South Africa suggested that since Article 1 restates part of the Preamble, it may be redundant. It suggested that the Purpose be stated as follows: “The Convention shall be to promote and to protect the rights of PWD."

Yemen agreed with Bahrain that the Title needs to be short. Article 1 should mention the obligations which are attached to the enjoyment and promotion of human rights.

Mexico supported the alternative language contained in footnote 8, amended to read as follows: “The purpose of this Convention is to promote and protect the full enjoyment of all rights and dignity of PWD on the basis of universal principles of equality and equity.”

China agreed with Mexico, Argentina, and South Africa regarding Article 1 and the language of footnote 8.

Ireland supported the wording in the WG draft rather than some of the suggested alternatives, because “rights of PWD” may imply that people with disabilities have a different set of rights. Instead, people with disabilities have the same rights as everyone else, but PWD are denied the opportunity to enjoy these rights.

Bahrain stated that international cooperation should be mentioned in Article 1.

Egypt proposed: “The purpose of this Convention shall be to ensure the equal and full enjoyment of PWD of all human rights and fundamental freedoms.”

Russian Federation supported the wording in the draft text in its present form.

India noted that people with disabilities are often prevented from enjoying their rights, and suggested adding the words “by striving for elimination of discrimination against PWD” after the words “fundamental freedoms.”

Japan stated that the original language of Article 1 is redundant with the Preamble, so this should be discussed after discussion of the preamble. Japan supported the wording in footnote 8. Although the Convention does not create additional rights, it does introduce some relatively new concepts such as reasonable accommodation, which are not included in other human right conventions.

Jordan supported the original wording of Article 1. The statement is positive and there is no need to add the word discrimination. International cooperation does not need to be addressed in Article 1.

El Salvador expressed its support for footnote 8 because it includes promotion and protection of human rights and includes social development.

Morocco, adding to India's earlier proposal, suggested adding the words “prevention of all forms of discrimination against the disabled” after the words “fundamental freedoms.”

China stated that the rights of PWD are human rights; no new rights are involved. Similarly, women and children have the same rights as others and are not guaranteed additional rights by their respective conventions.

Yemen stated that it is illogical to say that PWD do not need human rights because they have the same rights as others. If PWD were enjoying these rights, this Convention would be unnecessary. Also, there is a need to encourage international cooperation and to eliminate discrimination.

Thailand proposed replacing the word “ensure” with the words “to promote and to protect.” It would read as follows: “The purpose of this Convention shall be to promote and to protect the full, effective and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by persons with disabilities.” If this is not possible, then footnote 8 is acceptable.

Mali believed it will be difficult to agree on a purpose without first agreeing on a title. The title now says to promote and protect the rights and dignity of PWDs. Therefore, it supported footnote 8.

The Holy See noted that the group should put off discussion of the preamble until later, but it must be sure that Article 1 will cohere with the preamble and will not conflict with it.

Mexico stated that the elimination of discrimination and the promotion of international cooperation are fundamental in the body of the Convention, but not necessarily in Article 1. It proposed this language: “The purpose of the present Convention is to promote and protect the full enjoyment of all rights by and dignity of PWD on the basis of universal principles of equality and equity.”

Jordan suggested the following language: “ ....promotion, protection and full enjoyment ....,” in place of the term “effective.”

Liechtenstein asserted that while all parts of the Convention are interconnected, and might be discussed all at once, it is better to discuss substantive parts first, and if necessary to flag these parts' connections to the title and to the preamble. Coherence is important. Currently the title gives a different general idea from Article 1 and from Article 4. An article describing the purpose of the Convention may not be necessary; however it could be helpful to stay the purpose in order to achieve agreement on a very short title. The title will be shortened by common usage and by the media. It is appropriate, and not misleading, to talk about the rights of PWD.

Sierra Leone suggested that the Convention's purpose should state the reasons why the Convention is needed. The preamble, elements F & H, states why convention is needed, referring to the violations of the rights of PWD. The purpose is to prevent discrimination and violations of the rights of PWD, and to assure participation as equal members of the society. Questions about how this is to be done could be dealt with in other articles.

Eritrea supported footnote 8 language.

Philippines stated that a short, concise purpose is vital. It should include responsibility to take part in society.

Ireland spoke about the difference between rights and enjoyment of rights. Two international covenants use “rights of” language – the Convention on Migrant Workers and Convention on the Rights of the Child. Both entail new rights. Therefore, if we use “rights of PWD,” it could be seen as different sets of rights. PWD are guaranteed the same rights as others, but have not always enjoyed these rights. It is important to make clear that PWD do not have more rights or different rights under this Convention. The purpose of the Convention should be to ensure the full enjoyment of human rights by PWD. Also, Ireland criticized the tendency to drop the word "human" from the phrase "human rights," because this might lead to confusion about the type of rights involved. Ireland also opposed including the term “equity” because its meaning is unclear in the context of human rights.

Uganda suggested new language as follows: “to promote, protect and fulfill the full and equal enjoyment of all rights and the fundamental freedoms of all PWD." The term "fulfill" is to try to gain broader commitment to the Convention.

Columbia supported the wording proposed by Mexico, because it creates a single vision of the issue.

The floor was opened for comments from NGOs.

National Human Rights Institutions (NHRI) suggested this language: “The purpose of the Convention shall be to promote, protect, and fulfill the equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms of all PWD.” This formulation would ensure a focus on equality.

Asia Pacific Forum supported the retention of the original wording in the draft text, especially the term "effective," which would create conditions for effective enjoyment of rights, instead of mere formal recognition of those rights.

Volume 4, #9
June 4, 2004

Commenced: 10:17 AM
Recessed for informals: 10:48 AM
Reconvened: 11:15 AM
Adjourned: 12:55 PM

Procedural issues regarding the negotiating text for these last 2 sessions were discussed at length. The Committee reached consensus to proceed with the postponed reading of the Preamble of the WG draft text, instead of Articles 1 and 2 of the “Non-paper” titled Consolidation of proposals for Articles 1 and 2 of the Draft Text of the WG of the AHC (henceforth: “Consolidated Text”).

The Chair drew the attention of the Committee to Article 1, Purpose, of the Consolidated Text, and the Proposed Modifications to the WG Text from which the Consolidated Text had been formulated by a technical group. The Chair presented the Committee with 2 options: to send the Consolidated Text to their home capitals for review, or to proceed with comments on this Text at this time.

Ireland, on behalf of the European Union (EU) noted while the Consolidated Text will be reviewed carefully by the EU, it had some preliminary reactions to this. It reiterated its preference for retaining the language in the WG draft text, because to “ensure,” is stronger than to “promote, protect and fulfill” the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights. Furthermore, grammatically, the “enjoyment” of rights cannot be “fulfilled.”

South Africa, on behalf of Africa Group, called for the consideration of items which were deferred until the next AHC meeting, such as the Preamble, Monitoring, or structure. It needed to consult its capital “before it can endorse a new process”. In taking this position it highlighted the Group’s firm support for this Convention process since its inception, when there was less consensus from other states.

Ireland (EU) took the position that the previous day's decision to conclude this third session of the AHC with discussion of Article 1 and 2 of the Consolidated Text should be followed. It is important to take the negotiation process beyond what had already been achieved in this first reading so as to make progress. The Committee had decided to defer consideration of the Preamble and Monitoring topics until the August AHC. It is inappropriate and counterproductive to change yesterday’s decision.

Sierra Leone supported South Africa's proposal, without prejudice to any other decisions made, because it views the Preamble as vital. The AHC should at this stage take comments and amendments on the Preamble, complete this, and proceed with a second reading in August.

Israel supported South Africa’s proposal and favored proceeding with the remainder of the Draft Text of the WG, especially Monitoring, the most important part of the Convention. It requests reconsideration of yesterday’s decision to create momentum to advance this Convention.

Japan requested the Chair confer with the Bureau and come to a decision, in order to avoid wasting time in the Committee discussing procedural issues.

Mexico stated that yesterday’s decision to defer six major clusters (title, structure, preamble, definitions, monitoring mechanism, and final clauses) was not objected to by any delegation. It is not prepared to discuss these issues since they were deferred. Yesterday’s sole issue was whether today’s meeting would be open or closed to NGOs. No one questioned the Chair’s proposal to begin negotiations of Article 1 and 2. It does not support suspension of the meeting so that the Bureau may meet yet again. The decision has been made to discuss Article 1 and 2. It was now up to the Chair.

Russian Federation supported South Africa’s proposal because States must take the first reading back to their capitals to analyze language.

Burkina Faso supported South Africa because the AHC decided, on the first day, to return later to the preamble, monitoring and structure.

Syria also supported South Africa because it has received no direction from its capital about the Articles already discussed.

Jordan believed it was important to discuss Articles 1 and 2 as practice for next session as had been decided yesterday. Some delegations have left. It inquired as to why States wanted input from their capitals at this point because everything must be taken back. Discussing procedural issues was taking up valuable time.

China favored a discussion of Articles 1 and 2 at this session but expressed sympathy for South Africa’s proposal. The text is new to many delegations. It hoped the Chair would consult the Bureau to make future work go smoothly.

India agreed with South Africa’s proposal because it believes it would be difficult to return to Articles 1 and 2 without discussing all of the Convention first, including monitoring which is key to implementation. It also needs to take the Proposed Modifications back to its government before a second reading.

Yemen pointed out that it would take more time than the AHC now has to discuss all the deferred issues. It is ready to take part in any discussions, but some delegations have left so a full input from the Committee would not be possible.

Eritrea supported South Africa and called on the AHC to use its time fruitfully and end on a positive note.

Zambia also supported South Africa's proposal.

The Chair recessed to convene a meeting of the Bureau aimed at reconciling these 2 views. Based on the majority support for South Africa's proposal, the Bureau requested that the Committee rescind yesterday’s decision to postpone the Preamble discussion, and join in a consensus so that today’s work could move forward.

Mexico supported the Chair’s original decision and will support today’s new decision. However, it expressed frustration with the change in direction and the lack of consensus. It noted that it could not participate meaningfully in today’s discussion due to lack of notice and preparation.

Cuba supported the Chair’s proposal to move forward. It also requested cessation of procedural discussions and future procedural clarity to avoid waste of time and financial resources. It stressed the importance of finalizing the work in the time allotted.

Yemen supported any decision made by the Chair. However, discussing the Preamble today would not be efficient and, because many delegations have left or have not had time to prepare, it would prevent full participation on an important part of the Convention.

Israel supported continuing work on the Preamble as proposed by the Chair, which might be difficult but would move the work forward.

South Africa concurred that it was important to move the work forward. It stated: “The African Group has no other agenda except to ensure that finally PWD can enjoy their full human rights.”

EU expressed concern about the lengthy procedural discussion, and the fact that some delegations have left when the AHC was still continuing its work. It agreed to work on the Preamble in the interest of progress, but expressed a preference for discussing Articles 1 and 2 as agreed in the last session. It still insists that NGOs be allowed to participate in discussions about Articles 1 and 2 and other matters.

Costa Rica supported the Chair, but expressed deep concern about the decision. While ready to discuss the Preamble, Costa Rica had concerns that reversing yesterday’s decision sets a precedent of making exceptions to the rule on a procedural matter.

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