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Back to: Third Session of the Ad Hoc Committee

Daily summary of discussion at the third session
24 May 2004

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


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

Discussion of the Title and Preamble was postponed. Amendments to Articles 1 and 2 centered on the alternative language in footnote 8 and on 2(a), 2(c), and potential additions to Article 2.

The Chair, Ambassador Luis Gallegos opened the Third Session of the Ad Hoc Committee (AHC), to begin its negotiations pursuant to the instructions of the General Assembly (GA) and the Working Group (WG). He urged the Committee to commit itself to fulfilling the expectations of the 600 million persons who are following this process. The agenda calls for discussing specific articles of the Draft Text. Statements should be concise, specific and limited to five minutes. National positions or general views should be written and circulated in the hall. NGOs have made important contributions during the WG process and previous Ad Hoc Committee meetings. Negotiations in this Third Session will be based on the work done by the WG. There will be a distinction between the input of member states and that of NGOs. Only the amendments and proposals made by State delegations will appear on the screen. After each area is discussed, NGOs may give input.

The Chair emphasized that the text will be negotiated only during plenary sessions. He asked for cooperation so that the document can become a reality.

Egypt shared its concern that if meetings go on past 6:00 p.m., there would be no translation, and asked that therefore no informal meetings be held after 6:00 p.m. The Chair agreed that most informal consultations will occur before 6:00 p.m.

The provisional Agenda, A/AC.265/2004/L.1, was adopted. The Draft Organization of Work, A/AC.265/2004/CRP1 was approved.

Ireland, supported by Mexico proposed that the Preamble be discussed at the end of the work, after the first reading of the articles themselves. Sierra Leone questioned the rationale. Mexico responded that substantive content of commitments undertaken by member states is better discussed first, followed by the conceptual framework that is contained in a Preamble, which should contain only what is essential. Sierra Leone pointed out that the UN Charter’s emphasis was in its Preamble because it is at the core, but deferred to the general consensus to postpone.

The Chair gave a tribute to Ambassador Don Mackay who had presided over the WG. He was unable to attend this Committee meeting, but submitted a statement through the delegation of New Zealand. The Ambassador said he was honored to coordinate the WG. The WG took into account all contributions equally. He noted the WG was not a drafting committee, nor did it undertake negotiations, which is the right and prerogative of the AHC. Many views are reflected in the draft report and the footnotes serve as a guide to the main issues. The mandate given to the WG was complex, and the two weeks was short, but the WG carried out its mandate. Sierra Leone, Mexico, South Africa, Colombia, Korea, the South African Human Rights Commission, Rehabilitation International were thanked for coordinating informal discussions on parts of the text. The debate in the WG was genuine; delegations listened and learned during the process. Opinions differed, but all delegates were working toward a common goal, and did not hold on to fixed positions. He hoped this openness and flexibility continues at the AHC. The Ambassador's statement went on to urge that the process be accessible to PWD. In particular, legal language could be a barrier. Therefore New Zealand has a simplified version of the draft document, which is posted on the UN Enable web site, and was handed out to the group.

China expressed appreciation for the WG's achievement, and noted that the WG's report reflects positions of all sides. This session marks the start of substantive negotiations. The Convention should be a comprehensive, integral and binding international instrument which should cover civil and political rights as well as economic, social and cultural rights of PWD and “ensure right to life and development of the disabled.” The document should set forth the obligations of parties, which should combine rights and measures. This should include legislative, administrative, and judicial measures as well as economic and social policies to meet the goals of the Convention such as equal opportunity, poverty eradication, social security systems, employment opportunities, and barrier-free environments. The Convention should take into account the differences between developed and developing countries. International cooperation should be encouraged as an important part of the Convention. Monitoring should be done by an expert committee, modeled on other relevant international instruments, which would review national reports of compliance.

José Ocampo spoke on behalf of the Secretary General of the UN. He congratulated the WG/AHC for its work. He spoke of the values of social progress, better standards of life and human rights for all. For more than two decades, the UN has been involved in the full equality of PWD. The 1982 Work Programme of Action Concerning Disabled Persons, and the 1993 Standard Rules of Equalization of Opportunities for PWD, were instrumental in shifting the focus away from a social welfare approach, toward a rights-based approach. Because societies create disabling barriers, the international community recognized a need for Convention that will make a difference for 600 million people with disabilities. NGOs, legal experts, PWD, and States worked hard on the report before the AHC. The goal of the Convention is to provide a building block for the development of inclusive societies. The Secretary General extended best wishes for a successful outcome.

Mr. Ocampo then offered his own comments. The issues of developing countries are daunting. Eighty percent of PWD live in developing nations. It is necessary to focus both on poverty eradication and on social integration. He encouraged the group to reach the most marginalized groups by combining human rights and social development.


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.


Ireland, speaking for the EU, expressed general agreement with Article 2, but suggested new wording for (c). In place of “full inclusion of persons with disabilities as equal citizens and participants in all aspects of life”; the EU’s suggested wording is “full and effective participation and inclusion in society on an equal basis for PWD.” EU also proposed a new paragraph 2 (bis) based on CRC, Article 4. 2 (bis) wording: “States parties shall undertake all appropriate legislative, administrative and other means for the implementation of the present Convention. With regard to economic, social, and cultural rights, States parties shall undertake such measures to maximum extent of their available resources and where needed within the framework of international cooperation.” This would reflect the conviction that while parts of the Convention may need to be implemented progressively, much of this Convention should not be progressive, for example, non-discrimination.

Mali suggested a new paragraph (f) to make reference to international cooperation. It is a fundamental principle of this Convention, and includes both north-to-south cooperation and south-to-south cooperation.

Japan agreed in principle with the EU. In order to make clear the differentiations among paragraphs, the first sentence of Article 2 should be changed to: “In their actions to achieve the objective of the Convention and to implement its provisions, the parties shall be guided inter alia by the following fundamental principles:”

Sierra Leone expressed acceptance of the original wording. The EU proposal for 2 (bis) should be under obligations, Article 4. Principles are different from obligations.

Canada supported Korea’s idea of equality of men and women. It suggested adding a new paragraph entitled “Equality between men and women.”

Kenya advocated including the indivisibility and interdependence of human rights in Article 2 as well as affirmative action to correct the disadvantages which continually happen to PWD.

Sudan agreed with Sierra Leone that the EU's proposed 2 (bis) should be addressed in obligations, not principles. It also agreed with Mali that international cooperation should be placed under general principles. International cooperation would be one of the most serious, difficult, and important topics addressed by the Committee.

Ireland replied to Sierra Leone and Sudan regarding the EU’s position on 2 (bis). It wants 2 (bis) under this article or as a new article. It does not want it under “general obligations” because the whole Convention creates general obligations on States. The practice in international human rights instruments is not to have titles on the Articles. The EU has made large changes to Article 4 which will be discussed when Article 4 is discussed. It commented that although it supported equality for men and women, it is against putting this in Article 2. This may be better placed in the Preamble.

India supported putting 2 (bis) under this article or separate article because it is based on the principle of best endeavor and progressive realization. It called for the additional recognition that “special attention will be paid to the situation of persons with severe and intellectual and multiple disabilities” and “the social model would be preferred over medical model.”

Jordan stated that general principles should be precise. It suggested several one word phrases such as acceptance, cooperation, self determination, equality, and empowerment. This Article needs to have positive statements.

Mexico supported the new wording of (c) by the EU and agreed that 2 (bis) is relevant, but should be in Article 4, general obligations. It also supported inclusion of equality between men and women or a gender perspective. It proposed an amendment to paragraph (d), adding human dignity instead of diversity. This paragraph would now read: “respect for difference and acceptance of disability as part of human diversity and humanity.”

Costa Rica agreed that gender is important so the Convention should include it either in general principles or preamble. It also supported the new words of 2(c), emphasizing that participation and inclusion are important. It supported 2 (bis), but not in this article. In 2(a), it proposed instead of “independence of persons,” the phrase “independent life of persons.” Independent living is a known term, and while no one is independent, under certain conditions a person can enjoy an independent life. In addition, Costa Rica suggested adding “personal development at all stages of life” because such language would be less likely “to infantilize” PWD.

South Africa supported the original wording with the five items and all additional proposed items. It proposed adding a new paragraph on accessibility. Accessibility and universal design (Article 19) are essential to the Convention and will help States shift paradigms. It supported Mexico’s amendment changing humanity to human dignity. It also supported the EU proposal 2 (bis), but urged moving it to general obligations.

Eritrea supported addressing international cooperation in another part of the Convention.

Japan suggested a new paragraph for Article 2, addressing the realization of barrier-free environments. This will add a social dimension to the Convention.

Russian Federation stated that the first part of the EU proposal, 2 (bis), is redundant because once signed, States must take all appropriate action to implement the Convention. In addition, a paragraph about the equality between men and women was also superfluous, because it is already covered by the general prohibition against discrimination.

Norway affirmed that gender equality is an important concept to include in the Convention, although its exact placement is yet to be determined.

Liechtenstein asked what is meant by general principles, and offered the response that these are principles which would be helpful in the interpretation and the application of the specific articles of the Convention. The Principles should be relevant and applicable to all substantive Articles, and their language should be tested against the Articles. They should not be purposes.

Thailand would like to include self-determination in the general principles. It is articulated in several national laws. It supported the EU amendment (c), but would add at the end “in all aspects of life.” It supported the content of 2 (bis). It suggested a new paragraph “disability-inclusive international cooperation." This is not new international cooperation, but that disability is included in all international cooperation. Access and universal design should be another general principle even though it is separate Article.

India proposed affirming the social model in the general principles; this includes accessibility, barrier-free environments, and redressing any circumstance which prevents a person from participating in society and living in dignity. It suggested adding to Article 2 that the social model will be preferred over the medical model and that affirmative action can used to address inequality or disadvantage.

Next the floor was opened for comments from NGOs.

Association of Community Legal Centers supported the text as currently drafted with this addition: “(f) protection from exploitation, violence, victimization, abuse, harassment, and neglect, and (g) the right of survival and to realize full potential.” PWD are subject to increased risk of abuse, especially women, children, and people with multiple disabilities. The lives of PWD are valued less and therefore fewer medical and social interventions are given to PWD. PWD must be given the protection and resources to realize their full potential.

National Human Rights Institutions suggested adding in 2(a) “respect for human” before the word “dignity.” In 2(b). It suggested adding non-sexism to non-discrimination. It urged that 2(e) should read “equality of opportunities,” instead of “equality of opportunity.” It supported access and universal design and suggested adding the principle of reasonable accommodation. All human rights are indivisible, interdependent and interrelated.

International Disability Convention Solidarity in Korea suggested adding self representation to general principles. No one should speak for PWD; PWD should speak for themselves.

World Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry (WNUSP) and the World Blind Union (WBU) suggested an addition to 2(a): “dignity, individual autonomy, including the freedom to make one’s own choices through individual self-determination, and independence of persons.”


Commenced: 3:06 pm
Adjourned: 6 pm

Discussion on Article 3 was postponed until the substantive negotiations on the text as a whole were complete. Discussion on Article 4 engendered major proposals by the European Union, with related substantial changes to Articles 5 and 7. Many delegations called for print versions of the EU proposal to be distributed in a timely fashion so it could be reviewed, and discussion of Article 4 was to be continued tomorrow. The electronic amendments of the EU are available on the UN website.


No other delegates wished to intervene on Article 2. Inclusion International (II) and World Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry (WNUSP) expressed the view that it was not appropriate to single out one or two disabilities, or create negative labeling by focusing on the severity of disability.


New Zealand (NZ) favored postponing discussion on Article 3 since many of the terms may be defined in art as discussion proceeds through the draft, and would not need separate definition in Article 3. Thos would avoid unnecessary work as many terms may not appear in the final text.

The European Union (EU) agreed in general with the NZ view, stating that if there are to be definitions of terms and concepts, it is best if defined in the Article where that term first occurs rather than being placed in a separate context. They felt that trying to define disability would be problematic, unnecessary for purpose of a convention, so would prefer no specific Article on definitions.

South Africa, speaking as the Coordinator of the African Group, suggested a more generic model of definitions, as opposed to a medical model, and in the broad context of persons with disabilities (PWD) instead of disability alone. Concern was expressed that if the AHC defines disabilities, it might be problematic.

Yemen, suggested that a separate list of terms could be annexed to the Convention rather than devoting a separate article to definitions. It also supported a social model versus a medical model of disability, but added that a definition may lead into “lexicographic waters.”

The Russian Federation argued it was inappropriate to define disability, since different countries' laws approach this term in different ways, and a number of labor organization conventions deal with this as well.

The Holy See stated a necessity for some definitional terms, but also for openness and flexibility as the drafting process proceeds -- especially for terms not appearing in any juridical instrument.

Japan expressed concern that if the Convention's definitions of disability and PWD do not correspond to various countries' definitions, it may be more difficult to obligate those governments to implement its provisions.

A delegate suggested that the issue should be deferred, at the Chair’s discretion, to set aside time in a later committee session to deal specifically with definitions, with submission of written proposals to enhance debate, in addition to the current notes, footnotes, and Working Group draft.

Canada questioned the need for a definitions section at all, or a definition of disabilities -- suggesting going through the text first, then revisiting it to see if a definition of disability is necessary or possible. Specifically, it would be helpful to look at it in a small group where the necessary technical expertise would be available.

Australia suggested there might be some merit to addressing terms in the context that they appear; however “disability” is already in the Convention title, and it may not be useful to address definitions at this stage.

South Africa supported the need for an opportunity to address a definitions section during this Ad Hoc meeting, feeling it is the time to derive a number of definitions as referred to in the Working Group (WG) draft text. Norway supported Canada, NZ and EU’s position of deferral of definition discussion to a later date. Colombia said that the subject of definitions would be crucial as member states seek to build a convention. Their suggestion was to set aside time, either in a small group or in the regular session, but to discuss the issue and build compromise around it would be beneficial.

The Chair postponed discussion of Definitions noting that “a series of delegations voiced feeling that deferring this article is imperative because the following articles will tackle related matters, and it is not appropriate here and now to hammer this out until we deal with other issues. It will be taken up later, but not this present session.”


Ireland, speaking on behalf of the EU, stated that they had looked carefully at Articles 4, 5, and 7 because they believed these 3 articles dealt to a large extent with non-discrimination and ways and means to assure non-discrimination. For that reason the EU proposed the consolidation of those 3 articles into a single article on Non-discrimination, and will make further suggestions about the non-consolidated sections of Article 7 later.

Article 4 then would establish a set of principles needed to secure non-discrimination of PWD. The chapeau of Paragraph 1 would be replaced by the following wording: “In order to secure non-discrimination of PWD, States parties undertake in particular” and would amend Paragraph (a) to “take effective measures to review governmental, national and local policies, and to amend, rescind or nullify any laws or regulations which have the effect or purpose of creating or perpetuating such discrimination wherever it exists.” Ireland asserted that while this amendment is similar to (a) as is stands, it requires stronger commitment. The EU proposal includes short amendments to Paragraph (b) – “rights of equality and discrimination“ would be changed to “equality of opportunity." The EU proposal also involves a rewording of Paragraph (c), to address the EU's concerns with using the verb “mainstream” in an international legal instrument. The following rewording is suggested: “States shall ensure that the needs and concerns of PWDs are incorporated into economic and social development plans and policies, and not treated separately.” In relation to Paragraph (d) the following rewording is suggested: “to refrain from engaging in any act or practice of discrimination against PWD and to ensure that public authorities and institutions act in conformity with this obligation.” In Paragraph (e) the EU proposes to delete the word “private” before “enterprise.” The EU proposes that Paragraph (f), dealing with universal design, be moved to Article 19. In reference to Paragraph 2, the EU suggested that it be moved to Article 25, which deals with monitoring and implementation.

Speaking as coordinator for the African Group, South Africa (SA) called for retention of Article 4 noting that progressive realization of economic, social and cultural rights is a critical issue to the Group and supported footnote 19 in this regard. The Group also prefers reference to “the conscious allocation of resources by governments in favor or PWD.”

Japan suggested inserting a new item after subarticle (f) and this new article (g) would state, “to provide the conditions and environments under which persons with disabilities may live in a self-sustained manner by fully exercising their capacity.” Their reason is the lack of employment of PWD, and the need to help people live by themselves and by provisions of care from the government. Therefore Japan suggested a concept of empowerment in the article. Before subparagraph (a) they would like to insert a new sentence, “to inspect and Ensure the rights set forth in the present convention and to adopt,” taken from Art 2 (1) of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which put this convention in line with other conventions on human rights. Japan also suggested in subparagraph (a), the word “appropriate” should be inserted between “adopt” and “legislative,” in order to achieve the goals of this convention in the case that legislation is already in place. Also, in relation to Paragraph 2, Japan suggested that it deals with the same issues as Article 18(c) and suggested that Paragraph 2 be moved to Article 18(c).

Argentina stated that the obligation of States is one involving means, and suggested an alternative meaning for 4(1): “States Parties undertake guaranteeing the exercise and enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms” and can go on from there. A reference to international cooperation could use the wording from the Convention on the Rights of the Child. They suggest that “States parties shall adopt all measures, administrative, legislative and other kinds to give effect to the rights recognized in this Convention regarding economic, social and cultural rights; the states parties shall adopt these measures to the utmost of what their resources will allow, and when necessary, in the context of international cooperation.” In this way, there is the progressive making of a reality of economic, social, and cultural rights.

A delegate suggested that future lengthy proposals be circulated in advance, and they supported Argentina. They also requested that the EU clarify its intentions in eliminating sub-paragraph (d), and while acknowledging that the proposed changes are viable, they wondered if the proposed changes might weaken the Convention. Moreover, they asked that there be an incorporation of judicial measures, understanding that a state is a single whole and that the judicial branch has a significant role in this context. Subparagraph (d) must contain an additional line that reads after public institutions, “and private institutions that render public service,” acknowledging that these private institutions must abide by established measures.

Canada advocated the removal of the words “within their jurisdiction” from Paragraph 1, as it does not clarify, and instead presents complications. For example, it might leave out asylum-seekers with disabilities.

New Zealand suggested a change to Article 4.2. “In the development and implementation of policies and legislation to implement this Convention, States Parties shall do so in partnership with persons with disabilities and their representative organizations.” Article 5.2(d) would then be redundant and could be removed.

Yemen was concerned that delegations have not had sufficient time to examine the proposal of the EU and believed that some terms might be too general to be included in an international legal text on obligations.

Kenya expressed concerns that PWD “suffer double jeopardy,” particularly those who are institutionalized, and proposed an additional paragraph: “To provide particular protection and support for PWD who are vulnerable on account of situations such as conflict and natural disasters or because of their status as children, women or persons living with HIV/AIDS.” He noted here that it is not often considered how HIV/AIDS affects PWD. Kenya asserted the addition of a paragraph which would clearly require, “credible and effective structures to oversee implementation and monitoring.”

A delegate noted that the Committee’s methodology of work – “amendments on the fly” –do not show clearly which proposals enjoy broad backing. He also requested that lengthy, detailed proposals be circulated in advance and in writing to governmental and non-governmental organizations. There has been exhaustive discussion on the purpose of the Convention, and it goes beyond fighting discrimination. While this delegation would like to have the amendments proposed by the EU in writing, which could weaken the points and purposes that the committee has assigned itself. The chapeau of this Article on General Obligations should be in keeping with Article 1, which has already been extensively reviewed. The document prepared by the WG has a sound premise and is useful. In referring to international cooperation, they intend to propose a specific article on this point.

Serbia concurred with other delegations in appealing to delegations to submit lengthy proposals in advance in writing. Serbia expressed general support for the EUs decision, especially regarding their qualifying the word ”mainstreaming,” which is a term that people who are not from the disability movement might not know. Serbia also commends NZ for its rewording of “close consultation with” to “partnership.”

Ireland (EU) responds to a question about Article 4(d) from Costa Rica requesting explanation for the EU’s proposal to delete the phrase “to refrain from engaging in any act or practice that is inconsistent with this Convention.” The EU does not believe this is necessary, as a fundamental principle of international law stated that parties should refrain from acts that are contrary to the Convention. However, refraining from acts that are discriminatory to PWD is something new and that is worth underlining - a concrete commitment that states parties should undertake.

Delegations including Japan inquired after the EU’s proposed deletion of the phrase ‘to adopt legislative, administrative and other measures.”

The EU was open to considering the matter but refrained from commenting further until delegations had the opportunity to read through its proposed amendments.

India proposed a short amendment on international cooperation, adding after paragraph (f): “to cooperate with developing countries through financial and technical assistance, to support them in their efforts for the progressive achievement of the goals and objectives of this convention.”

Liechtenstein supported Mexico regarding the chapeau of Article 4 and highlighted the need for consistency between Articles 1 and 4. He noted that there exists in legal texts a precedent for outlining measures that States must undertake in the course of implementation of obligations. He asserted that the draft text in this article as it stands is designed more to show how states can implement the Convention and the tools it can use in this regard. Additionally, Liechtenstein supported the EU proposal on “mainstreaming,” and agreed that another wording be used, as “mainstreaming” is difficult to translate into other languages.

Thailand is satisfied with the existing draft of Article 4, but suggested “to integrate” be used instead of “mainstreaming,” and to be consistent, suggested that “including international cooperation” be appended to Article 4.1(c). Thailand also suggested a short amendment to Article 4.1(f) in the placement of “including assistive technologies” at the end of the first sentence, then deleting the last sentence, as it could be confusing.

Israel believed also that proper location of the concept of progressive realization is under Article 4. They proposed the addition of a third paragraph based on Article 4 of the CRC: “States parties shall undertake all appropriate legislative, administrative, and other measures for the implementation of the rights recognized in the present convention. With regard to economic, social and cultural rights, states parties shall take such measures to the maximum extent of their resources, and within the framework of international cooperation.” The second sentence should be amended to cite the articles in the Convention text to which progressive realisation would apply - Articles 9d, 13, 15, 16, 17, and 19 until 24. Given that these are new concepts in international law in relation to PWD it would help clarify which rights would apply to ESCR. The second sentence should also be amended so that “with a view to achieving progressively the full realization of such rights” based on Article 2 (1) of the ESCR, replaces the last phrase on international cooperation.

New Zealand further amended 4(2) substituting “partnership with” to replace “in close consultation with and include the active involvement of” PWD. It also proposed an addition to the last sentence “representative organizations, recognizing expertise of PWD and the leadership they can provide in all affairs concerning them.”


The EU summarised “EU Proposal 24, May 2004” and its proposed amendments (available on the UN Enable website.)

The EU’s new Article 3 titled “Non Discrimination” would incorporate most of Article 7, include amendments as already proposed to Article 4, and include portions of Article 5 and 6. Unconsolidated text from the existing Articles 4, 5, 6 and 7 would be either deleted or moved elsewhere.

Lebanon noted there is a precedent in other Conventions for General Obligations type provisions at the beginning, which outline how states can achieve the Purpose of the Convention. It preferred retention of this Article thus making it clear that the General Obligations was not restricted to nondiscrimination because “nondiscrimination is only part of this Convention.”

Kuwait cautioned that current proposals threaten “the balance” of the draft text and deviate it away from the purpose of the Working Group. Any comprehensive or general change would be tantamount to a general amendment of the convention. Proposals should “be synchronized” as agreed earlier.

Yemen asked for more time to examine the English only proposals of the EU. There was also an announcement on May 23rd from the Arab Summit, of the Arab Decade for the Handicapped, 2004-2014.

Mexico was “deeply concerned” at the direction of the debate which was “very quickly moving away from WG text”. Their position, shared by many other delegations, is that the WG did substantial work in the endeavor to bring positions closer together. Even if this work can’t be regarded as final, it still reflects a common ground. Should the EU proposals be the basis for work, it would “mutilate” the WG text. The EU’s new title of Article 4 would also substantially limit the scope of the Convention. Seconding the rationale of Lebanon, these amendments should be left until Article 7. Paragraph 1 should have the following at the beginning “In order to achieve the Purposes of the present Convention, States undertake ….” This would be followed by a list of the General Obligations.
The EU’s proposal regarding subpara (a) “is perfectly negative”, looking only at national legislation and policies, and does not take into account the aim of the current text which is to enable states to approach it in a more positive light with legislative measures to give effect to terms of convention. They have no the EU’s language in subpara (b) replacing “rights” with “principles,” and specifying “equality of opportunity”. They also agree with the changes to sub-para (c) removing the reference to “mainstreaming” and (f) shifting this to Article 19. However amendments to subpara (d) are limiting, focusing on discrimination with other purposes of the Convention set aside. And the value of moving Article 6 on Data and Statistics to Article 25 is unclear given that the provisions on monitoring lack any specificity yet.
Mexico reiterated that the main purpose of states parties is to give effect to the Convention by the adoption of appropriate national measures while “establishing close links with NGOs”.
It was most important to “preserve the results of the WG” and delegates should confine themselves to making general statements that would enable the Chair to discover which elements enjoy support, or no support, and to formulate amendments accordingly. Otherwise the Committee is “already embarking upon an exercise that will dilute the text in front of us, when in fact this should be the basic text for negotiation.”

Jordan emphasized the importance of preserving Article 4 - non-discrimination is important but does not displace other obligations. Duplicated language on discrimination across the other Articles can be amended thus addressing the concerns of the EU. Article 5 should also be retained.

New Zealand wouldn’t comment at this stage on the general repositioning of articles under the EU proposal. The EU’s proposed specific wording changes in Paragraph 1, (a), (b), (d) and (f) as narrowing convention. In 1 (c) it agreed to changes replacing the language on mainstreaming and in 1(e) it agreed that “private” before “enterprise” should be deleted. The second sentence of 1 (f) may be too specific and should be moved elsewhere. They reserve judgment on moving Paragraph 2 to Article 25.

Kenya was hesitant about moving paragraph 2 to Paragraph 25 given the importance o consultation with PWD. They agreed with the EU’s deletion of “private” before “enterprise”. He noted that “as far as possible we should work with draft with WG, otherwise it will become difficult and cumbersome as we try to reach agreement.”

Bahrain supported Kuwait’s proposal to work from the original Draft text.

Costa Rica agreed with other delegations that the chapeau of this article should be directly related to the purpose of the convention. 1 (a) should be kept intact insofar as proactively committing states to adopt legislation that would expand the ambit of human rights that would be applicable to PWD on the one hand wipe out customs and practices that would impede the realization of that right. 1 (b) should avoid mentioning constitutional changes and retain the general language of embodying changes in states’ judicial frameworks. 1 (e) should also apply to private institutions providing public service act in line with stipulations of the Convention.

Ireland acknowledged the excellent work of the WG but noted that it did not in any way prejudice the work of the AHC. Even the members of governments on the WG “spoke for themselves” and this is the first opportunity that governments have a chance to discuss among themselves. The outcome of the WG cannot be seen as agreements and does not necessarily shape the structure of the Convention. The EU’s proposed amendments are open to discussion and are as valid as any proposals to come out of the WG.
The EU does not consider the existing Article 4 to be a General Obligations formulation, but essentially a nondiscrimination one, and one that was repeated in Article 7, and for that reason merited restructuring.

Thailand supported New Zealand’s position on the EU draft. It also supported the EU’s amendments in 1(c), with the addition of the phrase “including international cooperation.” The “substance and spirit” in the reference to the involvement of PWD in Para 2 must remain in the General Obligations because the role of PWD extends to all stages of policymaking and implementation, not just in the process of follow up and monitoring that still needs to be developed further.

Trinidad and Tobago emphasized the importance in an international treaty to have the obligations and duties of States clearly spelt out. Language could be strengthened and streamlined but this Article should be retained. In addition both para 2 and Article 25 should also be retained, with the former perhaps prefaced by language such as “without prejudice to Article 25.”

National Human Rights Institutions (NHRI) expressed concern on the proposed deletion of the chapeau of Article 4(1), in particular the phrase “within their jurisdiction.” While not its intention such an amendment could potentially discriminate against PWD, eg. non-citizens or asylum seekers. The removal of Article 4 (1) would substantially narrow the scope of the Convention to one that focuses on nondiscrimination and starts moving away from a comprehensive international instrument.

Landmine Survivors Network emphasized that this Article is critical to outlining States substantive obligations, which are and must continue to be broader than the narrow approach of non-discrimination proposed by the EU. LSN supports the positions of South Africa, Jordan, Mexico, Lichtenstein and others. Full-inclusion is more than the absence of discrimination. The Convention must assure the full range of civil, political, economic and social and cultural rights, which based on their work with survivors in mine affected countries, is essential if their human rights are to be enjoyed. The deletion of the reference to “private” enterprise is of some concern given that other treaties have extended to the private sector and that discrimination against PWD happens to a large extent in the private sector, in the areas of work and accessibility. LSN supports the amendment from Thailand including international cooperation in 1 (c).

World Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry emphasized that governments’ efforts to give effect to the Convention, and to revise policies and laws to conform with its provisions, should not be subject to a non-discrimination analysis, which is a particular type of analysis that may not be exclusively applicable to every situation. WNUSP strongly supports strengthening paragraph 2, regarding partnership with PWD, recognizing their expertise and leadership.

European Disability Forum supported an addition to subpara (a) with “bylaws and rules”. In 1(c) it called for a specific reference to development cooperation obliging both the donor and recipient of funds to take into account PWD. It supported footnote 22 adding a reference to remedies in this Article. It supported Kenya’s proposal to include a specific para for PWD faced with a specific problem or type of discrimination, like women with disabilities or indigenous minorities. EDF welcomed NZ’s strengthening of Para 2. EDF objected to the EU proposal merging General Obligations with Nondiscrimination, in particular restricting the chapeau to nondiscrimination. The reference in 1 (c) to “not treating PWD separately” in development plans is of some concern as mainstreaming requires a twin-track approach, calling for specific programs while promoting inclusion in regular ones. Moving of Paragraph 2 to Article 25 is not necessary at this stage.

The Ad Hoc Committee Daily Summaries are published by the Landmine Survivors Network, a US based international organization with amputee support networks in 6 mine affected / developing countries. The proceedings of the UN Ad Hoc Committee elaborating a Convention on the human rights of people with disabilities are covered by them as a service to those wishing to better understanding and follow the process toward a convention.

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