Back to: Third Session of the Ad Hoc Committee
Daily summary of discussions
summary of discussions related to Article 18
PARTICIPATION IN POLITICAL AND PUBLIC LIFE
UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities
Third session of the Ad Hoc Committee - Daily Summary
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Volume 4, #6
June 1, 2004
Commenced: 10:29 AM
Recessed: 10:31 AM
Reconvened: 10:41 AM
Adjourned: 1:01 PM
The Chair appealed for simple and concrete interventions
in order to make progress within the timetable.
Namibia proposed amending 18(a) by replacing “including"
with "guaranteeing," and by replacing "citizens"
with "persons." In 18(b)(ii), the word “local” should be moved
before “national and regional levels.” A new subparagraph, 18(b)(iii),
should read: “represent their states at national, regional and international
levels to participate in the work of international organizations."
Another new subparagraph, 18(c)(i), should read "participate in
the formulation, implementation and evaluation of plans and programmes
for national and regional development.”
Uganda proposed several amendments. In the chapeau,
"ensure" should replace "recognize." In 18(a)(iii),
after “assistance,” the words “of their choice” should be inserted.
In 18(b)(ii), the word “international” should be inserted before "national."
Morocco proposed deleting from 18(a) the words "actively
promote an environment in which persons with disabilities can effectively
and fully participate," and replacing them with the following:
“Allow persons with disabilities to participate effectively, fully and
freely.” The current text in 18(a)(iii) should be replaced by the following:
“ensure that the necessary support is provided to citizens with disabilities
Japan proposed amending the 18(a) chapeau by changing
the words “including the right and opportunity of citizens with disabilities“
to “by providing citizens with disabilities with opportunities";
and by changing "ensuring that voting procedures and facilities"
to “taking measures to establish and maintain voting procedures and
facilities which"; and by either deleting or defining “public,"
a word whose meaning is unclear. Several changes were suggested for
clarity: The final word in the 18(b) chapeau, “to,” should be changed
to “their." In 18(b)(i), “participate” should be changed to “participating.”
In 18(b)(ii), the words “form and join” should be changed to read, “establishment
and adhering to."
Costa Rica expressed concern because Article 18 only
addresses physical assistance in voting. Stating the importance of consistency
with 18(a), Costa Rica was of the view that the Convention shouldn’t
limit it to discrimination. In the chapeau, the words "without
discrimination" should be deleted and replaced by the words “on
the basis of equal opportunity and to guarantee its effective enjoyment."
In 18(a), the words “political processes” should be inserted before
“voting procedures and facilities” in order to clarify that the whole
political process, not just voting, should be accessible. In 18(a)(ii),
after "citizens with disabilities," should be inserted the
words "make a free and informed decision and." In 18(a)(iii),
the words “the provision of assistance in voting to citizens with disabilities“
should be replaced by “and at the citizen’s request, the provision of
the required support to exercise their vote.” An omission was noted
in the Spanish text, and the Secretariat was asked to consider correcting
Ireland, on behalf of the European Union (EU), proposed
moving the draft article towards the beginning of the Convention, before
Article 8, to reflect its importance. Regarding 18(a), it agrees with
Costa Rica and others that this should refer specifically to citizens
with disabilities, because the language is drawn from Article 25 of
the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which specifically
refers to citizens as opposed to persons in general. In 18(b) “without
discrimination” should be inserted following the phrase, “conduct of
public administration” to reflect the difference between public administration,
which refers to conduct of government, and public affairs. In 18(b)(i),
“on a basis of equality” qualifies the right, and should be deleted.
In 18(c), the EU pointed out its reference to issues such as decisionmaking.
It proposed that “participate on an equal basis to others” be replaced
by “can participate without discrimination and on an equal basis to
other citizens”, given that it is frequently citizens, rather than non-citizens,
who participate in decisionmaking.
China proposed to differentiate the content of 18(a)
and 18(b) clearly with several amendments. In 18(a), “and public” should
be deleted, and the word “persons” should be replaced with “citizens,"
since in most countries only citizens enjoy political rights. In 18(a),
the words “right and opportunity of citizens with disabilities” should
be replaced by “exercise the right"; the word “to” should be inserted
before “be elected,” which should then be followed by the insertion
of “in accordance with election laws.” In 18(b), the words “and shall
encourage, as appropriate, their participation in public affairs” should
be deleted. In 18(c) the word “concerning” should be deleted for the
sake of conciseness.
Chile suggested use of more tangible terms regarding
the right to vote, language such as “guarantee the effective enjoyment
of that right,” and “providing necessary assistance and support the
disabled citizen required.” Two paragraphs already address this, but
it should be clearer that assisted voting does not have to be an obstacle
to the secrecy of the ballot. PWD should be assured of a secret ballot
as well as the assistance of their choice. Also, the article should
refer to the participation of PWD decisionmaking in all areas of public
interest, including but not confined to disability issues. Another issue
which should be covered is the opportunity for PWD to hold both elective
and nonelective government posts; the Convention shed expressly state
“the right to hold public office.” 18(c) should not be eliminated; the
logic in footnote 65 is flawed, since Article 4(2) covers domestic issues,
while Article 18 focuses on the national and local level.
Kenya proposed adding a new paragraph,18(b)(i)(bis),
“take all appropriate measures to ensure that persons with disabilities,
without any discrimination, have the opportunity to represent their
governments and to participate in the work of international organizations.”
It also proposed insertion of a new paragraph following 18(c). 18(d)
would read, “enable persons with disabilities to participate in the
formulation, implementation and evaluation of plans and programs for
local, national and regional development which may affect them.”
Argentina proposed to make Article 18 conform with
the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) by rewording the
chapeau to read “States Parties shall guarantee the political rights
of persons with disabilities without undue restrictions and undertake
to." In 18(b), the words “effectively and fully participate in
the conduct of public administration” with ”participate in the direction
of public issues.” The purpose of this replacement is to ensure conformity
with the American Convention on Human Rights, Article 23. 18(c) should
be deleted because its addresses issues already covered in 4.2.
Yemen expressed support for Article 18, and proposed
the following amendments.
18(b) deletion of “encourage as appropriate” and replacing with “ensure,”
to avoid possible misinterpretations that would deprive PWD of opportunities
to participate. In18(b)(ii), “international” should be inserted so that
the text would read “international, national, regional and local levels.”
Jordan stated that the term “public life” is vague,
and suggested replacing “public life” with “public affairs” in the title
of Article 18.
New Zealand distributed a restructured version of
Article 18, in which the current chapeau and 18(a) would be replaced
by new paragraphs, 18.1 and 18.2; the current 18(b) would be replaced
by a new paragraph, 18.3; and 18(c), with some amendment, would be moved
to the article on general obligations. The suggested revision reads
"1. States Parties shall guarantee to citizens with disabilities
the right and the opportunity to take part, on the basis of equality,
in the conduct of public affairs, including the right and opportunity
to vote and be elected in all elections and public referenda and be
eligible for election to publicly elected bodies. In particular States
Parties shall ensure that voting procedures and facilities:
(a) are appropriate, accessible and easy to understand;
(b) protect the right of citizens with disabilities to vote by secret
(c) allow, where necessary, the provision of assistance in voting to
citizens with disabilities.
"2. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure
to persons with disabilities, on the basis of equality, the right:
(a) to participate in the formulation of government policy and the implementation
thereof and to hold public office and perform all public functions at
all levels of government;
(b) to participate in non-governmental organizations and associations
concerned with the public and political life of the country.
"3. In particular, States Parties shall actively promote an environment
in which persons with disabilities can:
(a) participate in the activities and administration of political parties;
(b) form, lead and join organizations of persons with disabilities established
to represent them at national, regional and local levels."
In attempting to deal with some of the concerns about terms like "public
and political life" and "political administration," New
Zealand's suggested revision draws on wording from the International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the Convention on the
Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), and the Convention on the
Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). The
revised 18.1 changes “political and public life," which is part
of a descriptive phrase in CEDAW, to “the conduct of public affairs,"
which appears as a right in the ICCPR. The proposed new paragraph 18.3
goes beyond the basic right to vote and be elected to public office,
to address the right of PWD to take part in other aspects of public
life and civil society.
Uruguay suggested inserting in the chapeau, after
"people with disabilities," the words “and their role in public
administration,” in reference to the impediments that PWD often encounter
in serving in the judiciary and holding nonelective office. To 18(a)(iii)
should be appended the words “introducing the necessary adaptations
that will facilitate the use of new applied technologies, adjusting
them in keeping with their needs.” New technologies will continue to
advance and these should be used to assist PWD in voting.
Mexico expressed concern that 18(b)(ii) restricts PWD
to forming organizations of PWD. The words “of PWD” should be deleted,
to indicate that these organizations can include both persons with and
without disabilities. The content of 18(c) is covered by the general
obligations of Article 4. It supported New Zealand on including language
from other covenants and conventions, and supported Chile on the question
of public office. It is important to identify not only the procedures
and facilities involved, but also the measures required for PWD to exercise
their rights effectively. It also supported the antidiscrimination clause
suggested by the EU, and the technical amendments proposed by other
Canada expressed its support for the helpful amendments
proposed by New Zealand, which clarify some of the concepts, including
the distinction between the rights of "persons" and the rights
of "citizens." In 18(a)(i), Canada suggested inserting “and
use” after “to understand."
Australia recommended, in 18(a), replacing “ensuring
that” with “promoting” and then appending “that:.” In 18(b)(i), in order
to maintain consistency in the text, the words “on a basis of equality”
should be replaced by the words “on an equal basis to others.”
South Africa proposed in 18(c) to replace “on an equal
basis” with “equitably,” and also to delete the words "in particular
those issues relating to persons with disabilities," as PWD should
be involved in decisionmaking across all issues, not only the spheres
that are disability-specific. Disability itself is a cross-cutting issue.
Lebanon recommended rewording the chapeau: “States
parties shall guarantee the participation of disabled persons in the
political and public life without discrimination and without any hindrances
or conditionals and undertake to perform the following:.” In 18(a),
it suggested adding “in the countries that approve of indirect voting”
Trinidad and Tobago proposed the addition of a new
paragraph, 18(d) "to ensure that persons with disabilities can
access national parliaments and/or local government legislative bodies
and be properly seated therein either as elected members of those bodies
or as visitors.” Because this revision deals with accessibility which
is covered in another Article, it could appear elsewhere in the Convention;
either way, it is important to address this.
Thailand supported the New Zealand revisions to make
the Article more concise and to bring it in line with other instruments.
It emphasized the importance of guaranteeing the right of PWD to exercise
secret voting, and also the right of self-representation for PWD. While
PWD can join or form any other type of organization, organizations that
represent PWD should always be organizations of PWD.
Israel supported New Zealand’s proposal, but suggested
amendments to that text. Some of these amendments relate to the fact
that in some countries, persons other than citizens are allowed to vote,
hold office, and so on. Israel recommended rewriting the first sentence
of New Zealand's draft paragraph 18.1, as follows: "States Parties
shall guarantee to persons with disabilities implementation and fulfillment,
on the basis of equality, of such rights as are prescribed by law, to
take part in the conduct of public affairs. This obligation shall include
facilitating to the full and on the basis of equality the rights of
PWD prescribed by law to vote and be elected in all elections and public
referenda and be eligible for election for election to publicly elected
bodies. “Citizens” should also replace “persons” in NZ 18.1(b) and (c).
Israel supported particularly the New Zealand proposal relating to public
office, and it endorsed the Canadian proposal for 18(a)(i). It proposed
a provision of an anti-discrimination paragraph for Article 18: “States
Parties shall guarantee that the rights subject of this Article are
not denied or restricted in any manner on the basis of disability.”
Viet Nam supported the proposal of the Chinese delegation.
Palestine emphasized the need to talk about the full
right of public participation in all spheres of life, especially the
right to vote and to serve in public office, and to participate in the
political, economic, social, and cultural spheres.
Sierra Leone endorsed the NZ proposal and suggested
further discussion of the issue, raised by Israel, about whether to
refer to "persons" or "citizens." In NZ 18.2(a),
the words “of government policy and the implementation thereof” with
the words “and implementation of public policies.” Referring to footnote
65, Sierra Leone noted that Article 4.2 deals specifically with legislation
to implement the Convention while this Article does not. In NZ 18.2(b),
“international organizations” should be inserted before “non-governmental
Peru recommended in 18(c) replacing “in particular
those issues relating to PWD” with “public and political life of a country.”
It also endorsed the New Zealand proposal, which encompasses all aspects
of political participation, and which incorporates the language of internationally-recognized
human rights instruments.
Serbia and Montenegro supported the New Zealand proposal
and suggested that “international” be inserted before “national” in
18.3(b). It supported the EU’s recommendation to move this Article further
up in the Convention, after the Articles that deal with equality and
India proposed in 18(a) to replace “to vote and be
elected” with “to vote and stand for election.”
Guatemala proposed to append to 18(a)(iii): “when
they so request of their own free will.” It supported Peru on its proposal
The Chair opened the floor to NGOs.
Landmine Survivors Network supported the proposals
of Kenya and Uganda to include the right of PWD to represent their governments
at the international level. LSN emphasized the need to ensure that a
disability perspective be integrated into development planning and decisionmaking,
for example when considering accessibility of reconstruction projects
in post-conflict areas. This can only occur with the participation of
PWD and their representative organizations. LSN supported the inclusion
in Article 18 of language supported by international law that would
reference the right of PWD to participate in the formulation, implementation,
and evaluation of plans and programs for national and regional development.
Disabled Peoples’ International expressed appreciation
for the current level of specificity regarding PWD and voting, but expressed
concern for the lack of specificity in relation to other decisionmaking
processes, such as holding political office or participating in political
organizations. DPI drew attention to the prevailing practice to ensure
participation of marginalized groups in society of providing detail
outlining potential barriers to the realization of rights of participation.
It then urged the Committee to attend to the ILO Convention No. 169,
as noted in footnote 65, for a fuller outline of these potential barriers.
It supported Uganda and Kenya proposals to make explicit the rights
of PWD to represent governments and take part in the work of organizations
at the international level.
People with Disability Australia, Inc., along with
(Australian) National Association of Community Legal Centres and Australian
Federation of Disability Organizations, applauded 18(b)(ii), but recommended
strengthening the subparagraph in three respects as proposed by the
Bangkok draft. First, the Article should make clear that PWD are entitled
to form and join “independent” organizations, a right which is crucial
to the integrity of the civic participation of PWD. Second, the Article
should require States to provide these independent organizations of
PWD with recognition and financial support, without which these associations
will not be able to fulfill their important role. Third, the role of
PWD organizations should be expanded to include the international level,
such as in the implementation of this Convention. Also, 18(c) should
be strengthened by requiring States to recognize the "primacy"
of PWD participation in decisionmaking about issues which directly affect
PWD. "We want more than equal standing with others on these matters."
To facilitate PWD participation, States should establish central disability
policy coordination points within and across governments. In 18(a),
the words “information and materials” should be inserted after “voting
procedures and facilities,” to insure full accessibility. The convention
should also prohibit States from denying voting rights to PWD on the
basis of mental or cognitive disability. In 18(a) and (b), the words
“actively promote” should be replaced by “ensure," because these
paragraphs deal with civil and political rights which should be implemented
immediately. In 18(a)(i) “appropriate” should be deleted, as it adds
nothing to the meaning and might allow it to be read down. For this
same reason, the words “as appropriate” should be deleted from the chapeau
World Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry
expressed concern that the text of Article 18 does not explicitly guarantee
the right to vote and hold public office. This must be included because
the legislation of many countries excludes PWD from voting or holding
public office on the ground of disability. WNUSP supports New Zealand’s
National Human Rights Institutions suggested expanding
the scope of the text to “embrace the full spectrum of the right of
association," so that PWD can not only join organizations that
are representative of PWD but can also join other organizations. It
supported the proposals of Mexico and New Zealand. In 18(a), “ensure”
should replace “actively promote”; and in 18(b), “shall encourage” should
replace “actively promote.”