Skip navigation links Sitemap | About us | FAQs

UN Programme on Disability   Working for full participation and equality

Back to: Third Session of the Ad Hoc Committee

Daily summary of discussion at the third session
27 May 2004

Language versions: French | Spanish

Original MS Word version

UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities
Ad Hoc Committee Daily Summary
A service made possible by the Landmine Survivors Network

Volume 4, #4
May 27, 2004

Morning Session
Commenced: 10:13 PM
Adjourned: 1:02 PM

The Chair circulated a revision of Articles 1 and 2 that raised several procedural questions. Discussion of Article 12 was completed following 12 additional interventions remaining from yesterday’s session based on both the original draft text as well as circulating Mexican and EU drafts. Consideration of Article 15 was also completed.


Mexico had revised their draft of this Article taking into account the recommendations made yesterday, except for New Zealand’s. 12.1 was divided into two paragraphs incorporating ideas put forward by the Costa Rican delegation specifying “mental or physical” abuse of PWD, and their “economic” exploitation. In the proposed new 12.2, in addition to the notion of protection against abuse, the words “to prevent these forms of violence and abuse” should be added after the listing of “appropriate legislative, administrative, social, educational and other measures to protect PWD and…” Revisions to 12.3 reflect their Article 11 concerns regarding the special offense of “sequestering” and abduction against PWD. Other changes involve judicial guarantees. Mexico’s proposed new 12.6 incorporates the important idea of monitoring visits to public and private sector facilities.

Serbia-Montenegro expressed support for the EU's proposed Article 12 revisions, and for the NZ intervention stressing “economic exploitation,” and the conditions and environment under which PWD subjected to violence should experience recovery and social integration.

China reported resolution of its concerns yesterday regarding Article 12 amendment statements, following post-meeting consultation with the Secretariat and subsequent reflection in the conference overhead screen display. China noted that even though different delegations may propose the same amendments, they may have different grounds for these proposals. China expressed the hope that in recording amendments, the Secretariat can fully reflect the input of all delegations.

The Chair requested any delegation with concerns about amended language displayed on the screen to approach the Secretariat for verification. Proposed changes should be submitted to the Secretariat in writing to assist in "fine-tuning" the document's wording.

Canada proposed two amendments to the current text to ensure sufficient flexibility where necessary and so that appropriate safeguards are in place. In 12.2, after “disabilities from” Canada proposed the exception: “abduction, and save in exceptional circumstances according to a procedure with appropriate safeguards established by law, intrusive or forced.” The word “impairment” should be replaced by “disabilities.” In 12.6, “ensure” should be replaced by “encourage,” due to states’ difficulty in ensuring identification and reporting of abuse when victims prefer not to or refuse to report. Consistent with suggestions from other delegations, “treatment” should be replaced by “prosecution.”

Norway supported previous speakers’ suggestions to delete the first sentence of 12.1, which is preambular. 12.3 could also be streamlined to avoid reiteration of 12.1.

Trinidad-Tobago noted the EU and latest Mexican proposals regarding Article 12, and agreed with the need for streamlining to reduce repetition. The EU’s proposal to delete the first sentence of12.1 would remove recognition of the important fact that PWD are at greater risk both inside and outside the home; therefore the revised Mexican proposal, which retains the sentence, is preferable. The text should clarify whether the provision for "protection services" refers to both perpetrators and victims of violence and abuse; since the Article is for the protection of PWD, it should focus on the needs of victims, but if the WG intended to address both, this provision would be better placed in 12.4 of the Mexican draft.

Eritrea suggested that the first three lines of 12.1 could be better articulated in the Preamble, and supported Mexico's proposals to add to 12.1 the words “mental or physical" and “economic exploitation."

Morocco expressed general agreement with 12.1, and the willingness to work with other delegations streamlining the language to avoid repetition or non-essential portions. Paragraph 12.4 deals with monitoring of facilities and programs to prevent violence or abuse, and is a very important part of this Article.

Ireland, on behalf of the European Union (EU), supported various delegations' suggestions for moving the first sentence of 12.1 to the Preamble. It is a fact that PWD are at greater risk of violence, but states’ obligations to protect PWD from violence regardless of the degree of risk should be made clear.

Sierra Leone stated that the first two lines of the Article are important facts, and could either be left in the Preamble, or placed as a chapeau for all the paragraphs, perhaps beginning with "Recognizing that PWD are at greater risk, States Parties shall take measures A, B, C, D, etc.”

Palestine proposed changing paragraph 6 by adding “and foreign occupation”after “including violence arising from armed conflict.”

Philippines recommended inserting “rehabilitation” between “physical and psychological recovery” and “social reintegration" in 12.5, because there “can be no reintegration into mainstream society without rehabilitation.”

Trinidad-Tobago supported the revised Mexican proposal. It appears that the WG's intent in 12.6 was to relate to both the perpetrator and the victim. The concept of protection services should be contained in one paragraph dealing with the interests of the victim. Thus, 12.4 of the new Mexican draft should be amended to read, “States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to promote the physical and psychological recovery and social reintegration of PWD who are victims of any form of violence and abuse, including through the provision of protection services. “ That concept should be deleted from from Mexican text 12.5. In the EU proposal, as well as the latest Mexican text, the idea of provision of support for PWD and their families, found in WG 12.3, has been omitted. Thus, it is proposed that the last line of the Mexican text’s 12.2 read, ”…ensuring, inter alia, support for PWD and their families or caregivers, and the provision of information.” The phrase “or caregivers” is added to provide for different societal structures and contexts.

The floor was opened for comments from NGOs.

National Human Rights Institution insisted that Articles 11 and 12 should remain as separate Articles, because the focus of 12 is on abuse and violence, which occur far too often in the lives of PWD. The Moroccan proposals regarding monitoring mechanisms should be supported. New or existing monitoring mechanisms similar to national human rights institutions could contribute immensely to monitoring the violations articulated in Article 12.

Australia Disability, Inc., intervening jointly on behalf of the National Association of Community Legal Centres of Australia, People with Disabilities, Inc. Australia, and the Australian Federation of Disability Organisations, strongly supported Article 12 content with following amendments. Harassment, victimisation, emotional and mental abuse, and economic exploitation should be added to the types of abuse specified in 12.1, 12.3, 12.4, and 12.5. Violence and abuse -- especially mental and emotional -- often go unrecognized. Inclusion in this document will assist in highlighting these forms of abuse. The Article should contain acknowledgment that PWD who are women, children, indigenous, or have multiple and severe impairments are subject to even greater levels of abuse. The Article should also address the systemic exclusion of PWD from public programs, information and services, and should aim to reduce exposure to violence in emergency, residential and other short-term support services provided to persons escaping violent situations. The Article should include a paragraph guaranteeing violence prevention and relief services are fully accessible to PWD. The 12.1 phrase, “…in and out of the home” should be replaced with “all aspects of life.” The multiple Article 12 references to State responsibilities could be consolidated in a new paragraph for clarity. A separate article should deal with the human rights of PWD in emergency situations, such as refugees.

World Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry (WNUSP) referred to its comments yesterday regarding the need, in Article 11, for strong language to prevent "forced institutionalization and interventions to correct, improve, or alleviate any impairment." WNUSP supported Liechtenstein’s argument for including this language in both Articles 11 and 12. Article 11 addresses the need to eliminate these types of intervention entirely, while Article 12 deals with the fact that forced interventions can also take place in private institutions by private individuals; therefore it should remain in both Articles for the time being. Regarding the EU's comments comparing language in Article 11 and 12 to that in Article 21, the latter’s language is from the proposed Supplement to the Standard Rules. The phrase “medical or related interventions” might be too vague for this kind of instrument. Certain kinds of interventions are not necessarily medical. For example, the abuse of a child with a disability “in the belief they are going to get the devil out of him" would be covered by the proposed WG text language, “forced interventions aimed at correcting any actual or perceived impairments.”

Save the Children (SCF) agreed with Morocco and the NHRI that violence should be addressed in its own Article, and supported the statements made by Mexico and India. It reiterated SCF’s position (available at that children with disabilities (CWD) must have the same protection as adults with disabilities because of the added concern of corporal punishment. SCF proposed the following additional sentence at the end of 12.1: “In addition, these measures shall acknowledge the equal rights of children to protection from all forms of violence and abuse.” It also recommended an additional paragraph at 2.2: “States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to establish child protection mechanisms which are accessible to CWD, including information on accessing help, training of all relevant professionals, introduction of child protection policies in all institutions, parent education programmes, and safe reporting procedures.” Children with disabilities are vulnerable to violence and abuse, and “have no way to report independently, and if they report, they are at great risk.”

WNUSP added to its intervention, opposing the addition of the exception proposed by the EU allowing for legalisation of forced interventions under certain circumstances. Delegates should reject this particular sentence.

Ireland inquired on behalf of the EU regarding the Bureau’s procedure for circulating amendments to the draft text. With regard to the latest version of “Proposed Modifications to Articles 1 to 11” dated 26 May 2004, the EU noted that its amendment to Article 7, for a new Draft Article 3 (bis), was not included even though there was a substantive discussion that received support.

The Chair clarified that the Proposed Modifications was a service of the Secretariat responding to delegations’ requests to have all contributions during debate displayed on the Conference screen and available in an accessible electronic format. The Chair consulted with the Secretariat on the machinery to tackle the issue of the placement of the EU amendments within the technical limitations of the Secretariat. He noted that these consolidated proposals seek to “synthesise overlapping or broadly similar proposals and to set out the range of options that have been put forward.“ Where the consolidated text does not explicitly include specific proposals it indicates where it substantially covers them. In this case, the EU’s proposals might be more appropriately covered in other draft articles. The Secretariat is following the WG structure of the draft text and for this reason there is some difficulty incorporating the EU proposals. The Proposed Modifications are technical, secretarial drafting documents and have no substantive value other than to be an aid to the negotiations. The Chair noted “There has been no limitation on what a national or NGO delegation has said in this hall, and I think that is a recognition of the transparency and democracy of the United Nations system.”

Ireland noted that since its modifications to Articles 4 and 5 had been incorporated it would expect those in relation to Article 7 to be incorporated as well, given that they represent the position of a large group of countries. Ireland also inquired whether any “formal, coordinated, informal discussions” were taking place. Finally, it sought clarification on the status of the “non-paper” on Articles 1 and 2.

The Chair was not aware of any coordinating exercise under the guidance of the Chair, only of EU and other similar regional coordination. He affirmed the EU’s reference to the document on Articles 1 and 2 as a “non-paper.”

Norway inquired whether the non-paper on Articles 1 and 2 was intended to be the basis for any possible further negotiations on this paragraph if time allows at end of this AHC.

The Chair emphasised that the basis of the AHC discussion is the WG document, according to the Legal Department of UN. Therefore the document on Articles 1 and 2 is only a “non-paper” that will “conduct us to informal consultations” upon completion of a first reading of the WG text. This might move the process faster.

Sierra Leone was unclear at the notion of a first reading. He inquired as to where the attention of the AHC was now focused - on the non paper or on the footnotes of the WG text, highlighting the fact that Draft Article 1 in the non paper was entirely different from what the WG proposed. He reminded the delegations that the footnotes in the WG text are not arbitrary inclusions, but there for guidance.

Trinidad and Tobago addressed the EU’s concern about the coordinator of discussions and asserted that there are no formally coordinated and formal discussions taking place.

The Chair noted that there have been other elements added to the WG text in this larger plenary of the AHC. Informals will be conducted on the basis of the WG text and on the inputs of all other delegations. He clarified that New Zealand is the coordinator of discussions.

Mexico suggested that in order to avoid speculation about the text, the Committee should do a first reading of all substantive Articles and then do a second round of more detailed consideration of the Articles in conjunction with NGOs.

Malaysia expressed strong reservations about the possibility of having separate discussions or negotiations during the plenary meetings, and expressed appreciation for the transparency and full participation in the meetings so far.

The Chair called the Vice President from the Philippines to preside while the Chair withdrew to consult with delegations. The Chair reaffirmed that this is a technical document and that the Committee is working in a transparent venue.


Yemen proposed that Article 13(c) should add “and providing opportunities for those concerned with persons with disabilities to be educated in augmentative and alternative communication modes.” Also, Yemen suggested in 13(f) to replace “encouraging” with “obliging,” and noted that governments can use their authority, including taxation, to compel private entities to provide accessible communications.

Sierra Leone stated that this is a technical Article but an important one that involves the capacity to access technology, which most PWD in Africa lack. So before making any specific recommendation for this Article, Sierra Leone requested that those countries that have technological expertise assist it in understanding technological terms. Sierra Leone directed the Committee’s attention to footnote 42, which discusses plain language, and stated that this discussion might be too technical for some states, and if they are going to be involved, they would like assistance, based on the report of the WG, to understand these terms. Sierra Leone then directed the attention of the WG to footnote 41 and asked the Committee whether it preferred using the term “mode of communication” or “format.”

Lebanon stated that in light of footnote 43 language should be appended to 13(e) to provide for the provision and training of assistants and intermediaries such as sign language and tactile interpreters, note-takers, readers, and others. It also supported Yemen's proposal for 13(c), and then proposed a further amendment to 13(c), to add after “educating PWD,” the words “and non-disabled persons wishing to communicate with PWD.” Lebanon then proposed a new paragraph related to inclusiveness: “States Parties will take all appropriate measures to ensure that accessible information and communication technologies be designed, developed and produced at an early stage so that the information society becomes inclusive at minimum cost.”

Trinidad and Tobago supported this Article, as information technologies can pose barriers to PWD in developing countries, and supported Yemen’s amendment to 13(c) but with “their families and the general public” appearing after “educating PWD.” It also recommended that “and public” be added after “private” in the text of 13(f).

Namibia proposed the deletion of “on request in a timely manner,” as documents should be accessible to everyone at all times. When “on request” and “in a timely manner” are used, issues of funding might be used by States to claim that that it is not possible to make documents accessible. Namibia supported the proposal by Yemen for 13(f), that private agencies should also be obliged to provide information to the public in accessible formats. Namibia supported Yemen’s comments about the mass media, and also supported Lebanon’s proposal.

Japan stated that although it understood the thrust of 13(a), it noted that governments may sometimes leave the task of translation to private organizations. Therefore Japan suggested substituting “Taking appropriate steps to provide public information” for “Providing public information.” This would leave room for interpretation as to whether the government or private organizations should do translation in any given case. Japan suggested that 13(e) would be more appropriately placed in Article 19.

Argentina proposed amending 13(a) to add “and technologies” after “accessible formats,” and to substitute “and technologies appropriate to different disabilities” for “taking into account different kinds of disability.”

Ireland, on behalf of the EU, suggested amending 13(a) to replace “public" with “official” in describing the type of information that States Parties should provide. The EU also suggested deleting the words “of their choice,” as sometimes it may not be viable to have a choice of formats. The EU proposed a new beginning for 13(d), “Promoting and where appropriate undertaking the research,” as it may not be necessary for States to undertake research that may already be undertaken in other countries or by organizations.

Thailand supported the WG draft but suggested the deletion of “on request,” as there may not always be time for PWD to make requests. Thailand also proposed substituting, in 13(f), .“Requiring” or “Ensuring” for “Encouraging,” as this document is not a policy statement, it is a legally binding document and “encouraging” is not a strong enough word.

Costa Rica expressed concern that the title of the Article might limit access to and development of rights. It therefore suggested that the title be changed to “Right to information and communication.” Ensuring access is an important component of the right to information. The EU has developed that entitlement to communication as a fundamental right and urged the Committee to further develop and incorporate this concept in the WG draft. Costa Rica suggested modifications to the chapeau, to read as follows: “States Parties undertake to ensure the enjoyment of the right to information and communication to PWD. In this regard States Parties shall take appropriate measures to ensure that persons with disabilities can exercise their right to freedom of expression and opinion through alternative modes of communication of their choice, where appropriate, including Braille, sign language and to seek, receive and impart information, on conditions of equality, including by...” Costa Rica then addressed 13(c), stating that discussing only teaching or education seemed “paternalistic” and suggested amending 13(c) to read as follows: “Providing education programmes aimed at teaching PWD and their families in the use of alternative and augmentative modes of communication.” It further suggested appending to 13(e) the words including training of interpreters, and access to new information and communication technologies." The digital divide does not just run north and south, but also exists within the south, and affects PWD who do not have access to technologies.

Canada stated that the ideas expressed in Article 13 are important for the full equal participation of PWD, but felt that components of Article 13 overlap with provisions of Article 19 and would suggest that the two Articles be considered together, taking into account the provision of reasonable accommodation. It further suggested that “suitable for PWD” be replaced with “in consultation with PWD” in order to bring PWD into the process of research and development of technologies which would make technologies and products more accessible. In the chapeau, the words “on an equal footing” should be replaced by “on the basis of equality with others.”

Korea supported Costa Rica in its proposal for 13(e) and Lebanon for its ideas about training interpreters, and proposed adding, after the words "people with disabilities," the words “including expanding the necessary level of expertise to assist persons with disabilities."

Israel supported Costa Rica, especially in its rewording of the chapeau. Israel stated that the title deals with two separate, but equally important issues, and proposed changing the title of the Article to “The right of access to information,” because it feels that this Article deals with the means to ensure accessibility to information and to facilitate the exercise of freedom of expression.

Uganda stated that it would like the word communication to be defined, and that this definition could be transferred to the definition Article (3). Uganda suggested the following definition: “oral, aural communication, communication using sign language, finger Braille, Braille, large print, audio, accessible multimedia, human readers, and other augmentative modes of communication, including accessible information and communication technology.” Uganda also proposed inserting in 13(e) “and where necessary their parents and caregivers” after PWD, and in 13(f) replacing "Encouraging" with “Ensuring."

Uganda proposed a new paragraph, 13(h): “Developing a national sign language,” as in many countries there have been no steps taken toward the important goal of developing a national sign language.

Mexico stressed the fundamental importance of this Article. It supported Costa Rica's proposals both for the chapeau and for the title. It supported the proposals of Japan, Namibia, and the EU to make a reference to information of an official, rather than of a public, nature. In 13(b) Mexico recommended inserting “and promoting” after “accepting.” Mexico then proposed a new paragraph, “Promoting that persons with disabilities enjoy the new information and telecommunication technologies.”

South Africa supported the content of the chapeau as it seeks to ensure that States take practical measures, and proposed adding a new paragraph, “Providing information to persons with disabilities about mobility aids, devices and other forms of assistive devices and technologies.” South Africa recommended that 13(e) be placed in the Article on accessibility and supported Uganda’s proposal for including families and caregivers.

Jordan stated that this Article focuses more on the means of freedom of expression rather than the freedom itself. As a result, Jordan stated that the chapeau needs to be strengthened to reflect this right, that there is a need to reorder the subparagraphs, and that there is duplication between this Article and Article 19. In regard to 13(d), research and development are issues of general concern and should be placed in the Article on obligations (4) so that it would apply to all articles. Jordan suggested replacing all instances of the word “Encouraging” with a stronger word such as “Requiring” or “Ensuring." Jordan proposed the substitution of “Providing education and learning to” for “Educating” in 13(c), as it considers learning to be interactive, while education is more passive.

New Zealand supported most of the WG text but shared Sierra Leone's concern about the confusing use of such terms as format, mode of communication, and alternative and augmentative communication. The WG had had difficulty in distinguishing among these terms. New Zealand then suggested that “alternative,” which may have a pejorative connotation, be replaced in all instances with “a variety of." It also suggested deleting the word “augmentative” in all instances from the text, because “augmentative” is one specific mode of communication, and placing it alongside "alternative" in the text gives augmentative communication a “greater status” than other forms. New Zealand also supported the EU's proposal to delete “of their choice” from the chapeau, and the EU's proposed rewording of 13(d).

Philippines proposed the addition of “affordable” after “suitable” in 13(d).

India supported Costa Rica's proposed amendment to the chapeau, and the inclusion of families in the text. India also supported the title proposed by Israel, but recommended appending to it the words “and to promote facility of expression."

Morocco supported Yemen’s proposal for 13(c). It suggested adding “nor taxes” after “additional costs” in 13(a), as taxes on technologies can sometimes reach 150%, which may prevent PWD from accessing needed instruments and supported.

Kuwait supported the title proposed by Costa Rica, and Yemen's proposed additions in 13(a) with respect to families and caregivers. The words “on request” should be deleted from 13(a).

Viet Nam supported Costa Rica's proposed title, and Uganda’s proposal on the development of national sign language. Viet Nam also stressed the necessity to develop an international sign language.

Kenya supported replacing “Encouraging” in 13(f) and (g) with imperative language so that States will find it necessary to encourage private actions that will enable PWD to communicate. It also supported the idea that parents and caregivers must be able to learn appropriate modes of communication so that PWD can communicate with the rest of society. The Convention should include language supporting non-disabled people's opportunities to learn Braille, sign language, and other appropriate modes of communication. The Committee must focus not only on high-profile disability sectors, such as blindness and deafness, but must also take into account other disabilities.

Bahrain affirmed the need to educate and support both PWD and those associated with them, including caregivers. For example, a recent effort to teach sign language to hospital nurses had been “a successful experiment.”

Liechtenstein agreed with Costa Rica's proposal for the chapeau, but suggested replacing “ alternative modes” with “appropriate modes.” It agreed with other delegations that 13(d) is not specific to freedom of expression and access to information and therefore does not need to appear in this Article. Liechtenstein proposed that 13(f) and (g) be merged by replacing “private entities” in 13(f) with “private and public entities, including the mass media.”

Thailand offered a history behind the drafting of Article 13 and the differences between it and Article 19. Article 13 was viewed as the mechanism to achieve freedom of expression; access to communication at that point was not viewed as a standalone right per se. When the WG got to Article 19, it made accessibility a disability specific issue that needed much attention. The repetitions between Articles 13 and 19 should be worked out; both Articles are important, but they need to be clarified so they can stand on their own. In 13(d) “suitable” should be replaced with “accessible,” and at the end of the paragraph should be added the words “guided by the principle of universal design.”

The Chair opened the floor for comments from NGOs.

National Human Rights Institutions supported Israel's suggestion that accessible information may be separated from this Article, as it is a means to achieve freedom of expression. Means to achieve access, and the obligations of States Parties, may differ considerably. Regarding the concerns of States Parties on the financial implications this Article entails, NHRI drew States' attention to their important role in regulating standards of basic communication, telecommunication, media and broadcast systems. States have a very important duty to guarantee these freedoms by creating standards for barrier-free information production, distribution, and services. States which do not already have accessibility standards may benefit from the experience of States which do have such standards.

World Federation of the Deaf stated that it consulted linguists at many universities around the world about the definition of language and proposed the following definition:
"The systematic use of sounds, signs, or written symbols to represent things, actions, ideas, and states, shared and understood by members of a linguistic community.” The language of footnote 40 should be included in the Article. WFD recommending deleting “sign language” from the chapeau of this Article, as sign language is a natural language rather than another “mode of communication." The Deaf community is a linguistic minority whose freedom of expression and equal access to information requires the recognition of sign language as its first language. While linguists and social psychologists view the Deaf community as a linguistic minority, society at large does not recognize this. Many people have misconceptions about sign language, believing that it slows speech development and segregates Deaf people. WFD supported New Zealand’s proposal to use “a variety of” instead of “alternative.”

Afternoon Session
Commenced: 3:09 PM
Adjourned: 5:50 PM

The AHC finished the morning discussion of Article 13 and completed discussion on Article 14.


WFDB stated that the right of freedom to expression is very important to deaf-blind people because many have no means to express themselves or are not understood. Many deaf-blind people endure forced measures, abuse and torture to deaf-blind due to communication barriers. The right to communicate needs to be in this paragraph. The right to form an opinion requires access to appropriate information, which many deaf-blind do not have because of the lack of interpreters and the amount of information. This is a very technical paragraph. "Mode of communication" leaves out some things, such as does not cover everything, tactile communication. The phrase "mode of communication" should be replaced by "means of communication," and footnote 43 should be added .

PWD Australia/NACLC/AFDO stated that Braille, sign, augmentative, and plain language is very important in creating the means to exercise civil and political rights.
Accessible means of communication is only one dimension of the freedom of expression. It suggested addressing accessible means of communication in Article 18 or Article 19 or by adding in the chapeau "freedom of expression and opinion includes the right to communicate by accessible means." Paragraph 13(b) needs to be strengthened to recognize that sign language is a language. It supported the Bangkok draft which requires that accessible means of communication be provided in a timely manner and without additional cost. Easy language format also needs to be an obligation of States. It proposed changing "equal footing" to "on equal terms" in the chapeau and in (f), changing "encouraging" to "requiring" that non-State actors will be bound by this Article.

Inclusion international stated that PWD are sometimes not allowed the basic right to decide. PWD know what is best for themselves and they need to access information presented in uncomplicated words, short sentences and and sometimes pictures so that it is easy to follow. Information needs to accessible for everyone so that everyone can participate in decision making.

Save the Children supported WFDB and II. Children with disabilities are denied access to information and the right to express themselves. States need to provide this information. In 13(a), it proposed adding “Providing public information to PWDs including providing age-appropriate information for children with disabilities on request in a timely manner and without additional cost in accessible format and technologies of their choice taking into account different kind of disabilities." It suggested an additional paragraph after 13(a), as follows: "Enabling children and adults to communicate on an equal footing with others by providing extra time to access, reflect and act upon information by providing plain information and facilitating augmentative and alternative modes of communication"; and another paragraph as follows: "Enabling children and adults to appoint a representative if alternative modes of communication don”t suffice to express and participate on an equal footing."


Yemen proposed, in 14.2(b), adding "motherhood or" before "maternity." In both 14.2(a) and 14.2(b), it proposed adding at the end : "in accordance with the precepts of religion, convictions and various customs" because otherwise it limits equality. In 14.2(c), after family planning, and "sexuality." In 14.2(d), after "adoption," add "or guardianship." In Islam, there is no adoption, but guardianship is allowed. In 14.1, after "institutions," add "should they have decided to do so." The Arab Group agreed with these changes.

Iran proposed that 14.2(a) and (b) be merged without losing the main elements. It would add to the end of 14.2(b) the words "and experience their sexuality and parenthood." If this is done, 14.2(a) should be deleted because 14.2(b) would now include 14.2(a).

India proposed that in 14.1, "communication" replaced "correspondence" as suggested in footnote 45. Nearly all subsequent speakers agreed with this change (Kenya suggested “communication including correspondence"). The individual statements supporting this change will not be repeated in these minutes. Under 14.2(b), India proposed adding "under appropriate law" after "marry," and replacing "found a family" with "bring up a family, and be provided with information and counselling wherever necessary on the full dimension and responsibilities of marriage." In 14.2(c), India would remove "have" and replace it with "be provided with." It proposed deleting the last sentence in 14.2(d), because the right is guaranteed so it is redundant. Also, 14.2(e) should be moved to Article 16 on children and should cohere to the CRC; the parenthood rights of PWD is already dealt with in the early paragraphs.

Japan stated that 14.1 is not limited to PWD so in the last sentence, after "disabilities," the words "equally with others persons" should be added. In 14.2(e), it proposed removing "either directly or indirectly," and adding "all kinds of their disabilities."

The Holy See proposed that 14.2(a), 2(b), and 2(c) be merged and read as follows: "The right of men and women with disabilities of marriageable age to marry and found a family shall be recognized and no marriage shall be entered into without the free and full consent of the intending spouses." (ICCPR Article 23.2 and 23.3). The rest of the language is not found in any international Conventions. The ideas in 14.2(f) may be moved to Article 5.

Argentina proposed making 14.1 and 14.2 two separate Articles. Paragraph 14.1 addresses privacy of home and family, and 14.2 addresses elimination of discrimination in marriage and family relations, consistent with the ICCPR. In 14.1, change "privacy" to "private life." With regard to 14.2 change "shall ensure" to "shall take appropriate measures aimed at (or with a view to)." In the Spanish version, 14.2(b) refers to the consent of one spouse; therefore, this should changed to the plural. It agreed with footnote 49 which says that some States Parties may have difficulties gaining resources for adequate assistance. Argentina supported deleting the last sentence in 14.2(e) which reads "The child shall not however be separated from parents with disabilities on the basis either directly or indirectly of their disability," because these decisions should be controlled by courts.

Uganda proposed replacing the last sentence in 14.2(e) with "States Parties shall render appropriate assistance to parents of children with disabilities to enable their children to live with them."

Philippines supported the positions of India and the Holy See. In 14.2(a) it proposed adding "That PWD are not denied the equal opportunity to experience their sexuality, have responsible sex lives, and other intimate relationships and experience parenthood, taking into account the best interests of the woman and the child."

Kenya stated that sterilizations should be done only with consent, because many people with mental disabilities have been sterilized without their knowledge; States should encourage sexual abstinence. In 14.2(c), Kenya supported keeping "on an equal basis with other persons," and adding "including protection against non-consensual sterilization."

Jordan proposed that 14.2(f) be moved to Article 5. In 14.2(e), the words "or the disability of their children" should be added at the end of the sentence.

Ireland, speaking on behalf of the EU, supported "private life" instead of "privacy," as Argentina suggested in 14.1. For clarity, "freedom of choice" should replace "choice" in the last sentence. Ireland opposed the proposals of Iran, the Holy See and Philippines to alter 14.2(a), 2(b), and 2(c). It supported deleting "on an equal basis with other persons" in 14.2(c), because this phrase allows for limitation of that right. It suggested making 14.2(d), 2(e), and 2(f) into their own paragraphs. The first part of 14.2(d) should be changed to "States Parties to this Convention shall ensure that there is no discrimination against PWD in regard to..." The phrase "disabled parents" in the second sentence should be changed to "parents with disabilities." In 14.2(e), the phrase "directly and directly" should be replaced by "solely." Ireland recommends rewording 14.2(f), as follows: "States Parties shall take appropriate measures to change negative perceptions and social prejudices towards sexuality, marriage and parenthood of persons with disabilities."

China proposed that 14.2(b) should be changed to read: "The right of PWDs who are of marriageable age to marry and to found a family on a equal basis with other persons." Referring to "persons" instead of "men and women" is more consistent with rest of Convention. The emphasis is on equality so "equal basis" applies to restrictions on marriage also. Subparagraph 14.2(f) should become its own Paragraph 14.3. China proposed new language for 14.2(f), as follows: "States Parties shall take effective and appropriate measures to raise public awareness and provide information to change negative perception and social prejudices towards sexuality, marriage and parenthood of persons with disabilities." It proposed a new title: "Respect for privacy, marriage and family."

Syria favored adding, at the end of 14.1, the words "through legitimate marriage" and changing the word "adoption" in 14.2(d).

Australia supported EU”s position and China in regard to 14.2(b). It prefers 14.2(a), 2(b) and 2(c) not be merged. It supported deleting, in 14.2(e), "directly and indirectly," and moving 14.2(f) to another part of the Convention.

South Africa suggested a new title, "Respect for Privacy," because the Article concerns not only privacy in the home and family, but more broadly. In 14.1, it suggested changing "personal matter" to "private matter." Respect for Privacy should include all protections under the UDHR, Article 12. Under 14.2(b), it proposed substituting "rights of all people with disabilities," for "all men and women." It supported footnote 46; 14.2 should include marriage, family and any other relations, including people who are living together. In 14.2(d) it supported deleting the last sentence so that the Convention doesn”t treat PWD differently. South Africa recommended amending 14.2(e) as follows: "The child should not, however, be separated from parents with disabilities on the basis either directly or indirectly of their disability."

Canada opposed the amendments of Holy See because equal opportunity to experience sexuality, and the right to decide number and spacing of children, are vital. In 14.1, it proposed deleting "including those living in institutions," because this Article applies to all PWD no matter where they live. In 14.2(b), "informed" should be replaced by "full."

Costa Rica supported Argentina in creating two Articles because two issues are covered, privacy and marriage. In 14.1, "shall have the right" should be changed to "shall." After the term "interference" should be added "in all fields," because this would address any interference in the life of the PWD. It proposed removing from 14.1 "privacy in the home, family," and adding "... communication, information, and documentation of PWD." The focus of the Convention is on PWD, not other persons living with them. Costa Rica proposed adding 14 (bis), a separate article titled, "Respect for families and relations of the couple (or intimate relationships)." In the chapeau of 14.2, it suggested adding "couple relations" after "family relations." To speak only of marriage is too limiting and this Convention should not limit rights. In 14.2(a), the last line, in English, refers to parenthood, but in Spanish the translation is fatherhood; it suggested changing this to "experience maternity and paternity." Costa Rica proposed amending 14.2(b) as follows: "The right of all men and women with disabilities to establish couple relationship or intimate relationships including marriage, to develop these relationships fully and to find a family on the basis of free full and reciprocal consent." The term "spouse" is too limiting. It proposed 14.2(b) (bis): "The rights of persons with disabilities to reproduction, prohibiting all practices aimed at involuntary sterilization and/or inhibiting the exercise of the right to reproduction on the basis of prejudices about persons with disabilities." The same translation issue as 14.2(a) applies to 14.2(c); Costa Rica favored the term "boys and and girls" in the Spanish text and keeping "on an equal basis," and deleting "with other persons." In 14.2(d), the last part beginning with "for the purpose of guaranteeing these rights" should be deleted because this could create discrimination. Again in 14.2(e), the Spanish translation needs to include both genders and Costa Rica favored deleting "directly and indirectly," but there is no need to add "solely," as this could lead to discrimination. There is a translation problem in 14.2(f) which must be corrected: "States shall promote" is correct. In 14.2(f), it proposed deleting "marriage," and adding "intimate relations including marriage and parenthood of PWD." Since 14.2(b) refers to "intimate relationships," it should not include reference to marriageable age; this article speaks about men and women, not boys and girls, so marriageable age is assumed. A mention of age could be acceptable, but not solely for marriage.

New Zealand proposed a positive amendment regarding forced sterilization, adding to 14.2(c) “retain their fertility, “ before “decide freely." Since the intention is for PWD to have the same rights as others, the first three words of 14.2(d), “the rights of" should be replaced with "That, so that the sentence would begin "That PWD have the same rights as other persons..." New Zealand agreed to the Philippines' proposal to refer to the "best interests of child," but not in 14.2(a) because this addresses sexual relations and the reference could be misconstrued. Instead, at the end of the first sentence of 14.2(d) should be added the following: "; and all cases, the best interests of the child shall be paramount." This is consistent with CEDAW 16.1(f).
With respect to 14.2(a), 2(b), 2(c), and 2(d), they need to stay separate. If the AHC accepts Iran”s suggestion, the value of 14.2(a) would be diminished. Under the UDHR and ICCPR, PWD have the right to marry. Yemen”s proposal to include religious considerations contradicts the UDHR, Article 16, and would give PWD fewer rights than other people. Likewise, the Committee should not support India”s suggestions to add counseling, because this implies a precondition for marriage that does not apply to other people; it may be tenable in another Article. The change in 14.2(c), "and the means necessary to exercise these rights" is found in CEDAW already so it does not support this addition as it may imply different rights. It also pointed out that the Holy See”s proposal is in fact not a merger, but a deletion of 14.2(a) and 2(c), which it cannot support.

Qatar suggested replacing 14.1 with "PWD shall not be subjected to any coercive practice or illegal practice," as in the CRC. In 14.2, after, "effective and appropriate measures" should be added "with a view of encouraging the full participation of persons with disabilities in family life." Also, 14.2(a) should be replaced with: "To encourage measures intended to eliminate social stereotypes concerning marriage of PWD, in particular, the young women with disabilities, the right to sexuality and to form a family.” It favored encouraging the media to help eliminate stereotypes. In 14.2(b), it proposed replacing Afound a family" with "To establish family relations.” It supported Yemen”s proposal to delete adoption and add guardianship. It favored adding “within available resources” at the end of 14.2(d). Because 14.2(f) is contained in its proposed 14.2(a), it should be deleted.

Mexico remarked that the title needs changing; it suggested expanding. It supported footnote 46, expanding the scope to marriage and family relations. The second line of 14.2 chapeau should be amended to add: “all matters relating to their private life, including . . .” so it does not just include marriage, but all aspects of private life. It agreed with New Zealand that other treaties should be recognized, including CEDAW, CRC in 14.2(a) and (b). In 14.2(c), it agreed to delete “on an equal basis with other persons” because it is redundant. It also agreed with the need to explicitly prohibit forced sterilizations: “States Parties shall also ensure that persons with disabilities are not subject to forced sterilization.” In 14.2(d) Mexico supported the inclusion of the second sentence because it is in the CRC; this should not be an excessive burden on the States. It proposed to change the order of 14.2(e), the second sentence should go at the beginning and "directly or indirectly" should be deleted. In order to safeguard people with mental disabilities, it proposed for paragraph 14.3: “The provisions of this Convention shall apply to persons with mental disabilities, whenever there is no prejudice to the protection granted through legislation, national norms and procedures relating to their legal capacity or which are specifically designed to offer them legal protection, to ensure their physical integrity and to protect their dignity.

Libya remarked that that in 14.2(a), the term “sexual relationships” is not used in other UN documents and there is always controversy when it is used in a text. In its understanding, sexual relationships are only in marital relationships. It proposed adding to 14.2(b) after the word “sexuality,” “within the framework of married life,” thus deleting sexual relationships.

Bahrain endorsed Yemen”s proposal to replace “adoption” with “guardianship” in 14.2(d).

Norway supported retaining 14.2(a), (b) and (c) because they contain important concepts including experiencing sexuality. 14.2(e) is unclear without the EU”s proposed changes. It may support Mexico”s inversion suggestion.

Russian Federation remarked that 14.2(d) needs to reflect the realities of guardianship, wardship, trusteeship and adoption of children when it addresses PWD. In our country, if an adult is injured or has a disease and can not work, then that person is prohibited by national law from adopting. The following amendment was recommended: "These rights may be restricted in exclusive situations specifically stipulated in national legislation."

Morocco supported the deletion of “including those living in institutions” because all PWD are covered in 14.1. There are some good amendments to consider on 14.2(a) and (b). In 14.2(c), after “access to information," Morocco would add "advice.” It remarked that it is unclear whether 14.2(e) pertains to parents or children; therefore Jordan”s amendment should be supported.

Serbia and Montenegro supported retaining 14.2(a), 2(b), and 2(c) as separate, and deleting Aon equal basis” in 14.2(c). It agreed with New Zealand”s amendment regarding sterilization. Because 14.2(d) and 2(e) address parents with disabilities, it suggested creating new paragraphs for both. It recommended moving 14.2(f) to an article on awareness, and in adding "solely" to 14.2(e). It also agreed that the best interest of child must be preserved.

Liechtenstein said that the article should be coherent and add no new rights, but should only state how the rights of PWD may be ensured. In 14.1, it proposed replacing the word “choice” with “freedom." The rights enumerated in 14.2 are distinctive rights.

Thailand supported New Zealand's proposal to retain 14.2(a), 2(b), and 2(c), and its proposed wording, "retain fertility," in 14.2(c). It also supported Jordan”s amendment to 14.2(d).

Yemen spoke about its earlier statements, clarifying its positions on marriage, which is recognized by all religions, and on sexuality, which it opposes including in the Convention.

Israel suggested adding in 14.2(a), after "parenthood," the phrase "in accordance with national legislation” and amended New Zealand”s language in 14.2(d) to read: “subject to best interest of the child and in accord with national legislation.”

Brazil supported not combining 14.2(a), (b), and (c) and did not support addition of religion in 14.2(a).

Saudi Arabia supported Yemen”s proposal with regard to 14.2(a). It supported the idea that PWD should be able to experience their sexuality, but supported adding “within the framework of marriage” because this conforms to its national laws. It also supported Yemen”s comments on 14.2(b). It supported Jordan”s addition in 14.2(e) regarding children with disabilities.

The Chair asked for comments from interested NGOs.

Canadian Association for Community Living, on behalf of Inclusion International and persons with intellectual disabilities and their families, stated that people with intellectual disabilities are not often considered as having a family, being married, or being a part of creating their own family units. CACL emphasized that guaranteeing the right to privacy, home, and family to people living in institutions is essentially meaningless, as there is no privacy, home or home life, or any anticipation of being or having family in institutions. Persons with intellectual disabilities are very often denied their sexuality through medications, restraint, violence, abuse, and sterilization. This Convention should address the issues of persons with intellectual disabilities, who are not usually considered to have even the same rights that other people with disabilities enjoy.

People with Disabilities Australia Incorporated, along with the Australian National of Community Legal Centers and the Australian Federation of Disability Organizations supported the draft of Article 14, but suggested that it be divided into two separate articles, one on privacy and one on personal relationships. In 14.1, “correspondence” should be replaced by “communications,” and “medical records” should be replaced by the broader language “personal information, including medical records.” To further broaden the scope of this Article, PWDA recommended amending the title, using “personal relationships” instead of “family.” Similarly, it proposed substituting “personal relationships, including marriage and family relationships” for “marriage and family relations.” PWDA emphasized that the Convention must contain an explicit prohibition on the sterilization of children and adults with disability for non-therapeutic purposes, including the prohibition of “voluntary” conduct of parents and others seeking sterilization of their children. PWDA stated that this prohibition could be located in either Article 12 or Article 14.
PWDA recommended moving the last sentence of 14.2(d) either to the end of 14.2(e) or creating a stand-alone subparagraph, as it considered the sentence applicable to both subparagraphs. It also recommended in 14.2(d) the insertion of “on an equal basis with others” after “the rights of PWD” to achieve consistency with 14.2(a) and (c). It also proposed the deletion of “against their will” in 14.2(e), as it is unclear whether the phrase applies to the child, to the parent, or both.
PWDA strongly urged the Committee not to insert “solely” into 14.2(e), as suggested by footnote 50, as disability should never be a justification for the separation of children from their parents. PWDA considered this to be a potential loophole that would permit authorities to separate children from their parents.
PWDA urged the inclusion of a new subparagraph guaranteeing children and parents access to legal aid in relation to these rights.

World Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry considered it essential to have a legal basis for challenging legal deprivations and emphasized the importance that all PWD have full legal capacity on an equal basis with others. From this, WNUSP pointed out the relationship between Article 14 and Article 9 and urged the Committee not to dilute Article 9, or the rights laid out in Article 14 would not be guaranteed.
While WNUSUP accepted the notion of the interdependence of human beings, that all of us need aid and assistance, it cautioned that there is a linkage between a psychiatric diagnosis and the stereotype of being incapacitated and in need of special assistance and aid. WNSUP cautioned against the introduction of provisions in the law in which capacity is undermined. WNUSP urged against using either “solely” or “directly or indirectly" in the text of 14.2(e).

Society of Catholic Social Scientists, along with the Pro Life Family Coalition supported the intervention of the Holy See with regards to 14.2(a), (b), and (c) that would substitute the language of the ICCPR. SCSS pointed out that 14.2(a) and (c) incorporate expansive language that goes beyond that of the ICCPR into “uncharted and controversial directions” with by mentioning sexual relationship out of the context of marriage.
It also proposed a new paragraph 3: “States Parties shall take effective and appropriate measures to protect persons with disabilities of any age by providing appropriate assistance to strengthen family support systems while respecting the integrity of the family, the fundamental group unit of society.”

Disabled Peoples’ International stated that existing human rights treaties do not explicitly link the protection of the family to PWD, that PWD do not currently enjoy the highest levels of protections regarding the rights to live with their families, marry, have intimate relationships, and start their own families, rights that are fully enjoyed by others. In the Philippines, for example, disabled women are often denied the right to marry and start families based on the assumption that they cannot be good mothers and good wives. DPI directed the Committee to 14.2(f) and expressed concern that the current text seems to employ lower standards than earlier WG texts. DPI also suggested that there be included in this Article language similar to that in Article 5.1, requiring States Parties to undertake immediate and effective measures.

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.

* Disclaimer

Home | Sitemap | About us | News | FAQs | Contact us

© United Nations, 2003-04
Department of Economic and Social Affairs
Division for Social Policy and Development