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

Daily summary of discussions related to

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

Commenced: 3:06 pm
Adjourned: 6 pm

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.”

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