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

Daily summary of discussions related to Article 23

UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities
Third session of the Ad Hoc Committee - Daily Summary
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Volume 4, #7
June 2, 2004

Morning Session
Commenced: 10:04 AM
Adjourned: 1:00 PM

Philippines stated that 23.1 should expressly include progressive realization. In 23.1(b), it suggested replacing “aged” with “older persons.” In 23.1(c), it supported deleting “severe and multiple” and in 23.1(d), adding “and private” after “governmental.” In 23.2, it suggested adding “but not limited to” after “including” and adding education to the list of rights. It proposed a new 23.2(a)(bis): “Promote the allocation of a certain percentage of the government budget to ensure an adequate standard of living for persons with disabilities.”

Yemen stated that the right to social security in linked to health and education. It proposed to add in 23.1, “and commit themselves” after “recognize” to strengthen this Article. In 23.1(a), after “devices,” it proposed adding “free of charge.” It supported the Philippines' suggested deletion in 23.1(c) of “severe” because it means nothing; it supported the retention of “multiple.”

Japan proposed adding the phrase “Create conditions which would assure to all PWD” at the beginning of 23.1(a), (b), (c), (d), and (e) because it is similar to wording found in the ICESCR. In 23.1(c), it supported deleting “severe and multiple” because all PWD face discrimination and people with less severe disabilities are often left out of programmes from which they could benefit. It proposed deleting “their families” from 23.1(c) because it is too broad a term and this Convention should focus on PWD. It proposed in 23.1(d), deleting everything after “programmes” because percentages can cause conflicts between PWD and non-disabled people. In 23.1(f), it proposed beginning the paragraph: “Encourage to ensure” because sometimes insurance companies must make reasonable differentiation, not discrimination. It suggested in 23.2, after “clean water,” adding “on an equal basis with others” because clean water is not guaranteed in the ICESCR so this would be the first time this language appears in any Convention.

Jordan proposed change the title to “The right to an adequate standard of living and social security.” Paragraphs 23.2 and 23.1 should be reversed in order because an adequate standard of living must be secured even before social security. In 23.1, it proposed replacing “social insurance” with “social support.” It questioned 23.1(c) and (e) because disability itself should not be a condition for assistance and therefore proposed adding “The assistance should be reviewed periodically.” In 23.1(e), it proposed inserting “equal” after “ensure.”

Jamaica stated its preference for focusing on general principles instead of being prescriptive. In 23.1, it proposed adding “social protection, including” before “social insurance and social assistance.” It could also include social security in the list; however, social security is usually based on contributions and social assistance is not.

South Africa stated that this Article is a means to address the appalling living conditions of PWD. It supported retaining the title. In reference to footnotes 97 and 98, the Article must include an adequate standard of living. South Africa proposed adding “social assistance,” which is broader than the term social security. In 23.1, it proposed adding “progressive” before “realization” to ensure implementation. It supported retention in 23.2 of clean water and proposed to expand 23.2 to include more services: “States parties recognize the right of all PWD to adequate standard of living for themselves and their families, including adequate food, housing, and access to clean water, as a basic service, and to continuous improvements of living conditions and will undertake appropriate steps to safegaurd and promote the progressive realization of this rights.”

Brazil supported retention of “poverty reduction” in 23.1(b) and (c). It proposed in 23.1(c), to delete “severe and multiple” because state assistance should apply to all PWD.

Namibia noted that both public and private entities have obligations under this Article to ensure equitable treatment of PWD and proposed new paragraphs to this effect, available at: . Namibia supported the retention of 23.1(e). Because most services are provided by private entities, Namibia proposed changing the beginning of 23.1(f), as follows: “Promulgate legislation to ensure that persons with disabilities are able to access life and health insurance without discrimination on the basis of disability in public and private institutions."

Thailand proposed replacing “severe and multiple disabilities and their families” in 23.1(c) with “irrespective of type, gravity and complexity of their disability.” It supported 23(f) because some multinational insurance companies discriminate in some countries and not in others; the total denial of health insurance coverage to PWD is a large issue in some countries.

Cameroon supported South Africa's insertion of "progressive" before "realization" in the chapeau. The list in 23.1(c) is not comprehensive, and should therefore be deleted. The end of 23.1(e) should be appended with “and to other benefits to which they are entitled in respect of the degree of their disability.” In 23.1(f), after “health insurance,” the words “or other community forms of support” should be added. The specific forms of support could vary greatly among States and communities, and these are impossible to list.

China proposed the deletion of: “and to the enjoyment of that right without discrimination on the basis of disability,” in the chapeau, to be replaced with: “on an equal basis with others” because PWD should have rights equal to others. Also in the chapeau, after “shall take appropriate, “ it proposes adding “and progressive”; replacing “shall” with “undertake to”; replacing “safeguard and promote” with “to realize”; and deleting “the realization of.” In 23.1(a), (b), and (c), “ensure” should be replaced by “promote.” In 23.1(c), the words “women and girls with disabilities and the aged with disabilities” should be deleted because this Article targets all PWD. The Article is too prescriptive, and State Parties need flexibility to implement the Article; therefore 23.1(c), (d), (e), and (f) should be combined to read: “Promote access by persons with disabilities, living in situations of poverty, through assistance from the State, in areas such as housing programmes, taxation, life and health insurance and respite care.” China agreed that “severe and multiple and their families” should be deleted. In 23.2, it proposed deleting “and access to clean water”; replacing “undertake” with “take”; replacing “safeguard and promote” with “ensure”; and adding at the end: “, recognizing to this effect the essential importance of international cooperation based on free consent.” This last sentence adds language from the ICESCR.

Chile proposed replacing “standard of life” with “quality of life” in the title as well as in 23.2 because quality of life is individualized. In 23.1(d), it suggested adding “giving priority to PWD to appropriate housing,” as this strategy has worked in many countries. In 23.1(f), costs for PWD should be same as other individuals. After "clean water," in 23.2, it suggested adding basic services; as stated in Article 4, States must commit adequate resources to make this a reality. It agreed with Philippines.

Kenya proposed change in the title to "Social Support and Adequate Standard of Living." In 23.1(c), the phrase “severe and multiple disabilities and” and the phrase “living in situations of poverty” should both be deleted; and after “families” the words “to the extent of these persons’ disabilities” should be inserted. In 23.1(e), after “respect of,” should be added the words “equipment and assistive devices for persons with disabilities.”

Morocco proposed adding to 23.1(c), after "families," the words “or of those who are taking care of them."

Israel proposed in the chapeau of 23.1, adding “the kind of disability,” after “on the basis of disability.” In 23.1(a), (b), (c), (d) and (e), it proposed replacing “access” with “entitlement.” In 23.1(b), it recommended inserting “and members of minority groups with disabilities,” after “aged with disabilities.” In 23.1(c), it suggested deleting “severe and multiple,” and appending “the severity of disability and the fact that the person has more than one disability are legitimate factors in determining the level of entitlement.” The AHC should consider the impact of 23.1(f), on Articles 21 and 7.

Costa Rica opposed Chile's proposal to reference “quality of life,” noting that Article 21 of the UDHR uses the phrase "adequate standard of living." It agreed with Jordan’s new title. It proposed adding to the first sentence of the chapeau, “an adequate standard of living for themselves and their families and,” thus eliminating the need for 23.2 which is too detailed. In order to be consistent with this addition, “that” should be replaced with “these” and “right” with “rights.” It pointed out translation issues in the chapeau. In 23.1(a), it proposed after “necessary” to add “support” and after “services,” to add “technical aids,.” In 23.1(c), because all PWD should have access to services, it proposed adding “in particular” and retaining “by persons with severe and multiple disabilities.” It asserted that 23.1(d) is paternalistic and segregationist – rather than create special housing for PWD, the paragraph should make general housing more accessible to PWD, and should instead specify that they “are developed in accordance with universal design.” 23(e) is micro-managing States services and should be deleted.

Ireland and the EU agreed with much of Costa Rica’s proposal, and noted that some amendments do not conform with international law and precedent. It supported reversing the order of 23.1 and 23.2. It also supported deleting “access to clean water” since the ICESCR does not address clean water. It proposed adding at the end of 23.2, “without discrimination on the basis of disability.” It does not support China’s addition of international cooperation, since non-discrimination should not depend upon international cooperation. It noted the ICESCR, Article 9, on social security, is very brief – justifiably so in order to take into account differences among States. It proposed the retention of 23.1(a); deletion of (b) and (c) because they create different classes and the amendments by States come close to reflecting a medical model of disability; deletion of (d) because of its paternalism and promotion of segregation in percentages; and deletion of (e) because it is too specific. Because health and life insurance are vital, the EU proposed new language for 23.1(f): “Take appropriate measures to enable persons with disabilities to have access to life and health insurance based on objective criteria."

Uganda proposed replacing “insurance” with “assistance” in 23.1 because it is broader and includes more services. In 23.1(c), it suggested adding “and all care givers” after “families,” and deleting “living in situations of poverty,” so that all PWD are covered. It proposed adding “and encourage private developers to cater for persons with disabilities” to 23.1(d), since much housing is created by the private sector.

Argentina recommended separating social security and adequate standard of living into two articles. In 23.1(c), it proposed deleting “severe,” which is hard to define, but keeping the term “multiple.” The term “families” may be too narrow. It supported footnote 106 in 23.1(f); most insurance is provided by the private sector. It supported the inclusion of clean water in 23.2 because clean water is vital to an adequate standard of living.

Mexico stated that social security and adequate standard of living must be developed separately. In 23.1(a), it proposed adding “and other assistance including functional technical aids.” It supported deletion of “severe and multiple” in 23.1(c),the addition, after “counselling,” of “social assistance including.” It supported retaining earmarking percentages in 23.1(d) for housing. In 23.1(f), “ensure” should be changed to “encourage.” 23.2 should be a separate article which should also include “access to basic services”; “including” should be replaced by another word.

Canada asserted the need for a more principled and less prescriptive Article and supported proposals by the EU and Jamaica. 23.2 should be moved to the beginning of the Article. The provision for “access to clean water” should be deleted in order to make the paragraph cohere with Article 11 of the ICESCR. 23.1(a), (b), and (c) overlap and are too detailed. 23.1(a) should be deleted because it is covered in the accessibility article, and 23.1(b) should be deleted because it is covered by the chapeau and Article 4. In 23.1(c) Canada agreed with the proposal to delete “severe and multiple,” and it proposed deleting everything after “expenses.” It supported deleting earmarking percentages and replace “government housing” with “publicly funded housing.” It also supports deleting 23.1(e) as too prescriptive and 23.1(f) which should be covered in general non-discrimination.

Palestine agreed with Jordan regarding the title. 23.1 needs to be stronger by not only recognizing, but guaranteeing the right. It also supported deleting “severe and multiple” because all PWD need social security and services.

Cuba proposed, in 23.1(b), replacing “poverty reduction” with “poverty eradication” because that is the goal, although it is step by step. There are major translation issues in this article. It agreed with deleting “severe and multiple” because the Article should include all PWD.

Viet Nam proposed inserting in 23.2, after “standard of,” “food, clothing, and housing”; and deleting “living” and everything after “families” to after “clean water.”

Liechtenstein, like Argentina and Mexico, recommended separation into two articles. It is concerned that the right to social security seems to have more weight than the right to an adequate standard of living. Many amendments do not conform to the ICESCR, which is problematic. It supported the EU’s proposals for 23.2. Liechtenstein suggested that because 23.1(a) discusses disability aids and is very broad, going further than social security, it may be better to move it the chapeau. It proposed placing the first half and 23.1(d) under (a), but deleting the second half regarding percentages. It proposed a separate paragraph for the right to clean water because it is necessary to an adequate standard of living. It recommended moving 23.1(c), about financial assistance and devices, to the chapeau of 23.1. Different States deal with tax exemptions and tax benefits in different ways; therefore 23.1(e) might be too specific and too prescriptive. Liechtenstein supported retaining 23.1(f) in some form.

New Zealand supported reversing 23.1 and 23.2, and changing the title to "Adequate Standard of Living and Social Security." It supported deletion of 23.1(b) and (c) per the suggestion of the EU. Access to poverty reduction is better addressed under 23.2. It supported adding to 23.2(a): “Ensure equitable access by PWD to government regional development programmes and poverty elimination strategies, including international aid programmes.” It proposed replacing 23.1(c) and (e) with: “Provide assistance to PWD and their families to meet the extra costs they each incur because of disability.” In 23.1(d), it proposed inserting “equitable” between “ensure” and “access” and deleting everything after “programmes.”

Australia proposed several amendments, available at

Bahrain supported amendments from Yemen and other delegations to 23.1(c). It proposed deleting the reference to people with “severe and multiple” disabilities. In accordance with the principles of social protection for the vulnerable in society it inserted language recognising the right of PWD and their families “who live in poor conditions” to assistance from the State.

Volume 4, #8
June 3, 2004

Commenced: 10:26 AM
Adjourned: 12:59 PM

International Labour Organisation (ILO) supported the Article, and suggested adding the following: “States Parties shall undertake periodic reviews of their systems of social security, including employee compensation, to ensure that adequate support is provided and that no undue obstacles are inadvertently placed in the way of persons with disabilities in entering employment, retaining their job or occupation, or returning to the open labour market and paid employment.” This would ensure that social security provisions would not create disincentives to vocational training and employment and self-employment for people with disabilities (PWD), i.e. the “benefits trap” effect. ILO welcomed the provision to ensure PWD, especially women and girls and older people with disabilities, to both social security and poverty reduction strategies, since many PWD live in poverty, particularly in developing countries. ILO would welcome the opportunity to assist in monitoring implementation of right-to-work aspects of this Convention.

Lebanon proposed changing the title to “social securities,” which would not limit the provisions to the context of any particular organization or system. In the first sentence of the chapeau, it suggested replacing "social security" with “all types of social securities.” It also proposed an addition to 23.1(f) that reads, “Ensure that PWD are able to access life, health and other types of insurance.“

National Human Rights Institutions (NHRI) supported the NZ proposal to change the title and to reorder the sequence of Articles. The right to social security and an adequate standard of living are recognized as separate rights under existing international law, and adequate standard of living is broader than just social security. Social Security is the means to attain an adequate standard of living. Therefore NHRI aligned with the proposal to invert the order of the chapeaus, and proposed replacing “appropriate” with “necessary,” and replacing “safeguard” with “protect” since the chapeau addresses state obligations. In 23.1(a), the text should be amended to read “Ensure the necessary services, devices and other forms of assistance for PWD.” In 23.1(c) the words “with severe and multiple disabilities” should be deleted, as should the words "which should not become a disincentive to develop themselves." In 23.1(d), “accessible” should be inserted before “governmental housing,” and the words "including through earmarking percentages of governmental housing for persons with disabilities" should be deleted. A blanket tax exemption, without linkage to disability-related expenses, is undesirable, and so 23.1(e) should be reformulated. Regarding 23.1(f), the complexity of this issue should be reviewed to address discrimination, particularly against women. NHRI supported keeping "access to clean water" in 23.2. Clean water has become a basic service; this is elaborated in general comment 15 by the committee on the ICESCR.

World Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry (WNUSP) supported the Article, particularly the portions dealing with poverty reduction, and New Zealand's proposal that PWD should benefit equally from development. It endorsed deletion from 23.1(c) of “severe and multiple,” terms which are based on the medical model in making distinctions among PWD. WNUSP proposed adding a new paragraph, 23.1(g), to ensure preservation of autonomy in the delivery of social services. It reads, “Ensure that autonomy is preserved in the delivery of social services, including by prohibiting the bundling of services (making provision of any service contingent on acceptance of any other service).” Alternatively, this paragraph could go in Article 15.

People with Disabilities Australia, Inc. (PWDA), jointly with the Australian National Association of Community Legal Centres, and the Australian Federation of Disability Organisations proposed, per footnote 99, replacing “social insurance” with the broader term “social assistance" because PWD need many special measures not needed by the general population. Leaving out this concept could have the unintended consequence of prohibiting services targeted to people with disabilities in the name of nondiscrimination. On the other hand, it is important to ensure that special services are administered in a nondiscriminatory way. Therefore the chapeau should be redrafted to clarify that nondiscrimination applies to the administration, not the provision, of special measures. In 23.1(c), the phrase "living in situations of poverty" should be deleted, since even PWD who are not poor often have additional, disability-related costs and may require social assistance. These extra costs are largely related to social and economic participation, and must be addressed so as not to become a disincentive to participation. This goal should be progressively realized, depending upon the resources of States. The phrase "which should not become a disincentive to develop themselves;” as PWD will typically require social security in order to develop themselves. Special measures are not a disincentive to personal development; they are a precondition for it. In 23.2(d), it suggested adding “through universal design” after “ensure.”

Disabled Peoples International (DPI) suggested deleting “severe and multiple disability,” which is a medical model concept. It supported splitting Article 23 would be helpful. The two issues, “standard of living” and “social security,” are addressed separately in most human rights instruments. The UN Standard Rules might be of some assistance to the WG.

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