Back to: Third Session of the Ad Hoc Committee
Daily summary of discussion at the third session
3 June 2004
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UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities
Ad Hoc Committee Daily Summary
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Commenced: 10:26 AM
Adjourned: 12:59 PM
Discussion of Article 23 was completed, and interventions regarding
Article 24 was completed. Discussion, both substantive and procedural,
began on the Annex to the WG Text on International Cooperation. Mexico,
Viet nam and China circulated draft text for a proposed new Article
in this regard.
ARTICLE 23: SOCIAL SECURITY AND ADEQUATE STANDARD OF LIVING
The Chair opened the floor for comments from NGOs.
International Labour Organisation (ILO) supported the Article, and
suggested adding the following: “States Parties shall undertake periodic
reviews of their systems of social security, including employee compensation,
to ensure that adequate support is provided and that no undue obstacles
are inadvertently placed in the way of persons with disabilities in
entering employment, retaining their job or occupation, or returning
to the open labour market and paid employment.” This would ensure that
social security provisions would not create disincentives to vocational
training and employment and self-employment for people with disabilities
(PWD), i.e. the “benefits trap” effect. ILO welcomed the provision to
ensure PWD, especially women and girls and older people with disabilities,
to both social security and poverty reduction strategies, since many
PWD live in poverty, particularly in developing countries. ILO would
welcome the opportunity to assist in monitoring implementation of right-to-work
aspects of this Convention.
Lebanon proposed changing the title to “social securities,”
which would not limit the provisions to the context of any particular
organization or system. In the first sentence of the chapeau, it suggested
replacing "social security" with “all types of social securities.”
It also proposed an addition to 23.1(f) that reads, “Ensure that PWD
are able to access life, health and other types of insurance.“
National Human Rights Institutions (NHRI) supported
the NZ proposal to change the title and to reorder the sequence of Articles.
The right to social security and an adequate standard of living are
recognized as separate rights under existing international law, and
adequate standard of living is broader than just social security. Social
Security is the means to attain an adequate standard of living. Therefore
NHRI aligned with the proposal to invert the order of the chapeaus,
and proposed replacing “appropriate” with “necessary,” and replacing
“safeguard” with “protect” since the chapeau addresses state obligations.
In 23.1(a), the text should be amended to read “Ensure the necessary
services, devices and other forms of assistance for PWD.” In 23.1(c)
the words “with severe and multiple disabilities” should be deleted,
as should the words "which should not become a disincentive to
develop themselves." In 23.1(d), “accessible” should be inserted
before “governmental housing,” and the words "including through
earmarking percentages of governmental housing for persons with disabilities"
should be deleted. A blanket tax exemption, without linkage to disability-related
expenses, is undesirable, and so 23.1(e) should be reformulated. Regarding
23.1(f), the complexity of this issue should be reviewed to address
discrimination, particularly against women. NHRI supported keeping "access
to clean water" in 23.2. Clean water has become a basic service;
this is elaborated in general comment 15 by the committee on the ICESCR.
World Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry
(WNUSP) supported the Article, particularly the portions dealing with
poverty reduction, and New Zealand's proposal that PWD should benefit
equally from development. It endorsed deletion from 23.1(c) of “severe
and multiple,” terms which are based on the medical model in making
distinctions among PWD on the basis of severity. WNUSP proposed adding
a new paragraph, 23.1(g), to ensure preservation of autonomy in the
delivery of social services. It reads, “Ensure that autonomy is preserved
in the delivery of social services, including by prohibiting the bundling
of services (making provision of any service contingent on acceptance
of any other service).” Alternatively, this paragraph could go in Article
People with Disabilities Australia, Inc. (PWDA), jointly
with the Australian National Association of Community Legal Centres,
and the Australian Federation of Disability Organisations proposed,
per footnote 99, replacing “social insurance” with the broader term
“social assistance" because PWD need many special measures not
needed by the general population. Leaving out this concept could have
the unintended consequence of prohibiting services targeted to people
with disabilities in the name of nondiscrimination. On the other hand,
it is important to ensure that special services are administered in
a nondiscriminatory way. Therefore the chapeau should be redrafted to
clarify that nondiscrimination applies to the administration, not the
provision, of special measures. In 23.1(c), the phrase "living
in situations of poverty" should be deleted, since even PWD who
are not poor often have additional, disability-related costs and may
require social assistance. These extra costs are largely related to
social and economic participation, and must be addressed so as not to
become a disincentive to participation. This goal should be progressively
realized, depending upon the resources of States. The phrase "which
should not become a disincentive to develop themselves;” as PWD will
typically require social security in order to develop themselves. Special
measures are not a disincentive to personal development; they are a
precondition for it. In 23.2(d), it suggested adding “through universal
design” after “ensure.”
Disabled Peoples International (DPI) suggested deleting
“severe and multiple disability,” which is a medical model concept.
It supported splitting Article 23 would be helpful. The two issues,
“standard of living” and “social security,” are addressed separately
in most human rights instruments. The UN Standard Rules might be of
some assistance to the WG.
ARTICLE 24: PARTICIPATION IN CULTURAL LIFE, RECREATION, LEISURE
Ireland, on behalf of the European Union
(EU) suggested amending the chapeau by replacing “and shall take all
appropriate measures to ensure that persons with disabilities” with
“and shall promote appropriate measures for persons with disabilities
to,” because the original text goes beyond the powers of States to deliver.
The Convention should deal with the universality of PWD, so 24.3 should
be deleted because it singles out a particular disability group. In
24.4, to avoid appearing to create new rights, the chapeau should be
revised to read as follows: “With a view to enabling persons with disabilities
to participate on an equal basis as others in recreational, leisure
and sporting activities, States Parties shall take appropriate measures
to” in order to indicate the purpose of State measures. Because instruction,
training and support are provided by sporting organizations on a voluntary
basis, not by States, 24.4(b) should be revised to read: “ensure that
persons with disabilities have an opportunity to organize and participate
in sporting activities and encourage the provision of appropriate instruction,
training and support." Finally, both 24.4(c), which is covered
in Article 19, and 24.4(d), which is covered by the EU's revised 24.4(e),
should be deleted.
Yemen proposed splitting Article 24 into two articles
-- one, Article 24, "Participation in cultural life, including
intellectual, civilization and history, which would end after 24.3;
and another, Article 24(bis), "Participation in recreation and
sport activities," drawing on the text in 24.4. In 24.1(b), “free”
should be added before “multimedia formats.” In 24.1(c), the words “international
and regional" should be added before "television."
Mexico proposed a title change with the addition of
“physical culture” between “leisure” and “and sport.” In 24.1(a) the
words “and express” should be inserted following “utilize.” In 24.1(d),
“hospitality” should be replaced by “hotel,” and the words “and services”
should be inserted after “industry.” In the 24.4 chapeau the words “on
an equal basis with others,” should be replaced by “in conditions of
equity with other persons." In 24.4(a), “sporting activities"
should be deleted and, after "leisure" should be inserted
the words “activities, physical culture and sports." In 24.4(b),
the phrases “the same” and “that is available to other participants"
should be deleted, and “in conditions of equity with other participants"
should be inserted after "support." In 24.4(c), Mexico suggested
inserting “all” before “PWD,” and “to participate in sporting activities
in conditions of equity within the education system, including children
with disabilities” following “venues.” It suggested deleting “and that
children with disabilities have equal access to participating in sporting
activities with the education system.” In 24.4(d) it suggested inserting
“and” after “recreational”; and deleting “and sporting” after “leisure";
and adding “physical culture and sports” after “activities.” States
should take on a major role in promoting access to cultural opportunities
Thailand suggested amending 24.2 by deleting the words
“and unreasonable” and replacing them with “any.” Following “cultural
materials,” the rest of the sentence should be deleted. States should
play a major legislative role in ensuring these rights. Many activities
are organized and run by private entities, but they are obliged to follow
Chile noted, in reference to 24.1(d) regarding access
to cultural facilities, that “access” is important, but it is equally
important to consider what else is required for people to enjoy cultural
events. In 24.4, it proposed adding two subsections. The first would
refer to developing the sports potential of PWD, by promoting their
involvement at various levels. The second would address training for
teachers and monitors handling sports and recreational programs in methods
for facilitating the participation of PWD.
South Africa proposed separating recreational and
leisure rights from cultural rights, addressing the latter in a new
paragraph, 24(bis), which would also incorporate the current Article's
content relating to cultural and linguistic identity and rights as suggested
by footnote 109. Providing for cultural and linguistic rights would
bring this Convention into conformity with other international instruments.
South Africa also proposed several amendments. In the chapeau of 24.4,
“equal” should be replaced with “equitable”; and the words "to
promote a healthy lifestyle" should be inserted after "sporting
activities." In 24.4(a), “encourage” should be replaced by “ensure";
before "regional" should be inserted the word "club,"
because this is where participation in organized sports often begins,
providing a base for advancing to higher levels of sport; and the words
“to the fullest extent possible” should be deleted because this implies
a focus on their limitations. The text of 24.4(b) should be changed
to read, “Ensure that PWD have an opportunity to organise and participate
in sporting, recreational and leisure activities, and to receive equitable
and relevant instruction, training, resources and support.” South Africa
explained that providing “the same” resources and support to PWD would
be inequitable; and the phrase “that is available to other participants”
is redundant. The text of 24.4(c) should be changed to read: “Ensure
that PWD have access to sporting, recreational, and leisure facilities."
The clause regarding children with disabilities' access to sporting
activities within the education system should be moved to Article 17
on Education. In 24.4(d), the word "equal" should be inserted
before "access." South Africa suggested a new subparagraph,
24.4(d)(bis), as follows: “Ensure equitable access to government and
private funding for PWD to facilitate full participation in sporting,
recreational and leisure activities and organization.” In order to target
the media, 24.4(d)(bis) should go on to read as follows: “Encourage
all public media to give appropriate and equitable coverage of the achievement
of persons with disabilities in sports, recreational and leisure activities,
as well as the availability of such activities to all persons with disabilities.”
New Zealand noted duplication in the provisions of
this Article. For example, the facility access provisions in 24.1(d)
duplicate Article 19's references to accessibility in the built environment;
and the issue of cultural materials in accessible formats, required
by 24.1(b), should be adequately dealt with in Article 13, access to
information. Therefore, parts of these subparagraphs can be eliminated.
New Zealand also disagreed with proposals to separate cultural/artistic
activities from other activities. Based on these concerns, it submitted
a proposed revision of 24.1, consolidating paragraphs 24.1 and 24.4,
to address rights to participate in both types of activities. (24.2
and 24.3 would remain essentially unchanged.) In its revision, New Zealand
attempts to address several other concerns as well. The current paragraph
24.4 seems concerned primarily with the competitive nature of sports,
in which participants advance to different levels; however, other kinds
of cultural activities may also be pursued at the local, regional, national,
and international levels, whether competitively or not. Also, the opportunity
to develop and utilize potential should apply to physical, as well as
creative and artistic, endeavors. The amendment to the chapeau of 24.1
aims to use language from other international human rights instruments,
including the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). The phrase
"on an equal basis" in 24.1(b) takes into account the fact
that some activities are private, and not available to the general public.
New Zealand pointed out that 24.4(c) contains two very different ideas,
and suggested expanding the second half of the subparagraph, to cover
children with disabilities' access to all cultural, leisure, and physical
activities, not just those in the education system, and moving it to
the Article on children. New Zealand opposed the EU's proposal to delete
24.3, because sign language is integral to the cultural development
of Deaf people. However, it recommended consideration of whether the
cultural identity of other groups of PWD should also be addressed here.
New Zealand opposed Thailand's proposal to amend 24.2 by deleting the
phrase " while respecting the provisions of international law."
That clause would not inhibit the implementation of the paragraph.
Kenya suggested change in the title to “Participation
in Cultural Life, Religion, Recreation, Leisure, and Sport.” It introduced
new paragraph, 24.4(bis), to read as follows: “States Parties recognize
the fundamental right of PWD to practice a religion of their choice,
and shall take all appropriate measures to ensure that PWD:
"(a) enjoy the opportunity to develop their spirituality and practice
"(b) have access to houses of worship, shrines and sites of religious
"(c) can belong to a community of believers and participate fully
in the life of the congregation and in the rites, ceremonies and sacraments
that are a part of worship;
"(d) have access to appropriate religious education and receive
instruction in the format that best suits their needs;
"(e) will be protected from religious abuse, exploitation and coercion.”
Israel proposed several amendments. In the chapeau
of 24.1, after “to ensure,” should be inserted “including by way of
legislation to the maximum extent that is reasonable.” At the end of
24.1(a) should be added “and the society as a whole”; and the words
“and physical potential” should be inserted following the words “intellectual.”
In 24.1(d), after “libraries,” should be inserted “concert and other
musical performances"; and the words “as far as possible” should
be replaced by “work to the maximum extent possible.” In 24.3, the words
“who are deaf” should be replaced by “with disabilities of all kinds.”
In 24.4, at end of the chapeau should be added “Do all the following
at the maximum extent that is reasonable.” In 24.4(d), after “leisure,”
the word “tourism” should be added.
Japan agreed with the EU amendment for the chapeau
of 24.1, and suggested that some issues here need to be done by the
private sector rather than the government due to financial implications.
In 24.2, it suggested strengthening the last part of sentence to comply
with international agreements, by replacing “while” with “in accordance
with international agreements.” In suggested deleting 24.3, as this
issue should be dealt with under 2(d). Japan supported the thrust of
24.4, but it may be overly prescriptive and needing simplification.
Guatemala made two proposals. In 24.2, it suggested
deleting “excessive and discriminatory” since intellectual property
rights have not been an obstacle for PWD. In 24.4, it suggested deleting
“on an equal basis with others.”
Canada supported a more principled and less prescriptive
article. In the chapeau of 24.1, it endorsed the revisions offered by
the EU. It echoed New Zealand's concerns about the overly detailed nature
of 24.1(b), (c), and (d), and the overlap among them and with other
Articles, especially with the access issue. It supported the New Zealand
proposed revision of 24.1(b): pointing out the problem of listing technologies
which may become outdated, it supported shortening the subparagraph
and deleting its mention of specific formats. In 24.2, it suggested
deletion of “an unreasonable,” while retaining “discriminatory.” It
proposed retaining 24.4 on its own, as dedicated to the very important
issue of sports. Regarding 24.4(c), it echoed New Zealand's comments
that the content addresses two issues, access to venues and recreational
participation by children, which either are or could be covered elsewhere
in the Convention. Canada expressed uncertainty about what is intended
in 24.4(d), and asked for either clarification, or else deletion.
The Republic of Korea echoed Canada in attaching importance
to 24.4(a) regarding sports activities for PWD. To broaden the scope
of this subparagraph, Korea proposed appending to it, "and promote
sporting activities tailored to the needs of persons with disabilities
as well as disability-specific sports.”
Jordan called for retaining both cultural and sports
in this Article, because it “put the mind and body together”, and supported
Kenya’s proposal to include religion, in order to add the component
of “soul.” It proposed a rewording of 24.1(b) to read: “Enjoy equitable
access to and participation in cultural and sports material, activities,
services and facilities.” Subparagraphs 24.1(c) and (d) should be deleted,
as the ideas therein are included in the previous article. Article 24.4
in its entirety should be deleted.
China proposed adding language on a gradual timetable
through the insertion of “progressive” after “appropriate.” Paragraph
24.2 should focus on how to ensure that PWD have access to culture,
not to stipulate how States Parties should formulate their law as to
the protection of intellectual rights so as not to discriminate against
PWD, as countries, apart from legislation, have other measures to ensure
access to culture. There are also specific international instruments
to protect intellectual property in order to avoid unnecessary inconsistency.
China recommended that the Committee revisit the paragraph and consider
rewording it in a way that would ensure equal enjoyment of cultural
rights. It directed the Committee to footnote 109 (for 24.3), and endorsed
the idea contained therein, that to avoid unbalanced text, the content
of this paragraph should be reflected in other paragraphs or Articles.
Upon consideration of footnote 111, China proposed that in 24.4(a) “mainstream”
be deleted, as sports activities for people without disabilities might
not meet the needs of PWD and disability-specific activities, such as
the Paralympics, may need to be organized.
Bahrain supported this Article and proposed inserting
in 24.4(c), after “resources,” the words “to qualified and specialized
Costa Rica considered this Article to have particular
relevance, as quality of life is impacted by the ability to participate
in cultural life, recreational activities, leisure, and sport. In 24.1(d),
in addition to physical access to sites, the subparagraph should address
“enjoyment of” cultural representations (e.g., to see and enjoy volcanoes).
Regarding 24.3, Costa Rica wanted to draw distinctions, as the paragraph
as it stands generates a discriminatory dimension, and proposed a rewording:
“States Parties recognize that persons living under their jurisdiction
are entitled to their own specific cultural and linguistic identities
and shall take all appropriate measures to support it.” In 24.4 it proposed
the insertion of “including tourism” after “sporting activities.” In
24.4(b), “same” should be deleted so that the last part of the subparagraph
reads: “to receive instruction, training and resources appropriate to
ensure the involvement of PWD.” A new subparagraph should be placed
after 24.4(c): “To see to it that persons with disabilities gain access
and be able to enjoy tourist activities.” In 24.4(c) “with the educational
system” should be replaced by “including the educational system.” Subparagraph
24.4(d) should be deleted.
Morocco proposed the insertion of “at the least cost”
after “enjoy access” in 24.4(b).
The Holy See supported this Article in principle and
Kenya’s contribution. Religious practice is a non-derogable right recognized
in both the UDHR and international juridical instruments. Affording
protection of this right in this Convention is a serious issue. It agreed
with Jordan on the integration in human life of many aspects: mind,
body, and soul.
Ireland, speaking only on its own behalf, commented
on the proposal offered by Kenya. Ireland has consistently been a main
sponsor of resolutions on the freedom of religion and belief, and when
it questions the inclusion of this issue in the article, it is not out
of a lack of interest in the subject. PWD are already entitled to all
human rights and it is not necessary in this Convention to repeat each
and every one contained in the two international covenants on human
rights. The question of freedom of thought, conscience, religion and
belief is well set out in Article 18 of the ICCPR, has been elaborated
on in the Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance
Based on Religion and Belief, and further elaborated upon by the jurisprudence
of the Human Rights Committee, and in the resolutions sponsored by Ireland
over the past 20 years. In this framework, the proposal from Kenya would
significantly restrict the rights of PWD. It unintentionally elaborates
a separate right to freedom of religion in relation to PWD, which undermines
the general right which they already possess under international law.
It would not oppose an appropriate reference in this Convention, but
expressed grave reservations as to the formulation of Kenya’s proposal.
Uganda support Kenya’s proposal, as many places of
worship are not accessible to PWD, and some organizers of these institutions
may not be aware of the needs of PWD. Some of the practices of these
institutions are onerous to PWD and if PWD are going to enjoy the right
to worship at a religious institution of their choice then this Convention
should include a provision to ensure that those involved in these institutions
take into account the needs of PWD. In 24.1(d), the word “exhibits”
should be inserted between “two” and “monuments." In 24.3, “and
the deafblind” should be inserted after “deaf.” In 24.4(b), “necessary”
should replace “same,” as it might not be possible for persons with
certain disabilities to receive the same instruction, so “necessary”
is a more appropriate word. Uganda supported Kenya’s amendment for 24.4(d).
It introduced a new paragraph 24.5: “States Parties shall take all appropriate
steps to remove all discriminatory societal barriers to the enjoyment
of all the rights in this Article.”
Thailand expressed concern that some delegates misunderstand
the impact of intellectual property protection laws. There is a great
deal of evidence that existing laws protecting intellectual property
rights and copyrights do constitute and/or lead to discriminatory barriers
to access to cultural materials by PWD. The Convention should find a
way to ensure that domestic and international laws, intended to protect
intellectual property rights and copyrights, do not limit PWD access
Namibia supported Kenya's proposal to insert “religion”
in the title. In 24.4(a), “Ensure” should replace “Encourage”; "integrated"
should replace “mainstream”; and “all levels, including local,” should
be inserted before “regional.” In 24.4(b), “necessary” should replace
“same.” It proposed a new, 24.4(e), as follows: “Ensure that persons
with disabilities subject to multiple forms of discrimination, such
as women and refugees have access to sports, recreation and leisure
Philippines supported the suggestion, advanced by
Kenya, Uganda, the Holy See and Namibia, to incorporate religion as
one of the issues that States Parties should recognize and support.
The Chair opened the floor for comments from interested
Inclusion International stated that like music, sports
offer the opportunity for persons with intellectual disabilities, and
all persons, to self-expression. Music and sport bring people together
and provide shared understanding and appreciation regardless of disability.
It is necessary to support everyone, to build confidence and self-esteem
and to make everyone feel as though they are part of the team. Sport
should be integrated. II stressed the importance of moving beyond the
Special Olympics to true inclusion in sport.
Landmine Survivors Network fully supported the inclusion
in this Convention of the rights to participate in cultural life as
well as recreation, sport, and leisure. The participation of PWD in
sport and recreation activities contributes to physical fitness, mental
well-being and social integration, but too often PWD are excluded from
participation in sports and recreation activities. A strong provision
for the right to sport, recreation, and leisure would serve to raise
awareness of the importance of such participation, both for individuals
and for society. LSN strongly supported Yemen's proposal to address
sport, recreation and leisure in a separate article. In the UN Standard
Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for People with Disabilities
(UN SR) there are separate rules, one dealing with culture, and one
dealing with sport and recreation. Separating the articles would allow
for full elaboration of the issues related to each right and would assist
States with implementation and monitoring. LSN supported Kenya's proposal
to add religion. Also, it expressed concern that the current text does
not reference the right of children with disabilities to play, which
represents a departure from existing law, such as the CRC. It proposed
adding a new subparagraph specifically addressing the right of children
with disabilities to have access to age-appropriate play, leisure, and
recreational sport activities.
People with Disability Australia Incorporated, along
with (Australian) National Association of Community Legal Centres and
the Australian Federation of Disability Organizations applauded the
terms of this Article. It stated that the removal of barriers constituted
by intellectual property law (including copyrights) applies to all information,
not just cultural information, and suggested that this provision could
be dealt with more comprehensively in 19.2 (Accessibility). “Exhibits”
should be inserted before “monuments” and “throughout” should be inserted
after “to” in 24.1(d), to clarify that all aspects of sites of cultural
significance are made accessible. As suggested by LSN and other delegations,
“necessary” should replace “same” in 24.4(b), since PWD may need additional
support to participate in sport. The ideas contained in 24.4(c) should
be separated into two articles to avoid confusion. The words “services
and facilities” should follow “venues” in this subparagraph. Religious
participation and the accessibility of religious sites should also be
addressed in this article.
Save the Children asserted the importance of the right
to play for the development of personality, potential, and expression
on an equal basis with others and without discrimination. In recognizing
the importance of play and sports for the socialization of children,
young people, and adults with disabilities, SCF recommended the insertion
of a new paragraph:
“States Parties recognize the right of all children and adults with
disabilities to play and shall take all appropriate measures to ensure
"(a) have the opportunity to develop their personality potential
and expression on an equal basis with others;
"(b) have the opportunity to socialize, make friends, and participate
"(c) have access to playgrounds, events, and activities on an equal
basis with others;
"(d) have the necessary support to initiate and take part in play
24.1(b) should be appended with “and that such access also extends to
literature and cultural materials appropriate for children with disabilities.”
World Federation of the Deafblind expressed concern
that sport and culture appear in the same article, and recommended their
separation. People who are deafblind live in a different world, a tactile
one. The qualities they develop as a result of living in a tactile world
– patience, caution, concentration – are those qualities required by
artists, and thus, culture is not only something to consume, but is
also a right to perform. WFDB supported the proposal of Thailand, because
it is increasingly difficult for people who are deafblind to access
literature and other materials due to the strengthening of copyright
Northeastern University Center for the Study of Sport in Society
supported Yemen, South Africa, and Namibia on their proposals for 24.4
and New Zealand’s efforts to include local levels of participation in
24.4(a). This article should be revised by replacing “regional, national
and international levels” with “all levels of participation”. It also
supported Korea’s inclusion of “disability specific” in 24.4(b), as
this provision reflects the intention of developing sport programs where
athletes with disabilities participate with other athletes with similar
disabilities. The Convention has been forthright in qualifying “mainstream”
sports but it is necessary that 24.4(b) refer to disability specific
sport in order to avoid redundancy with the provisions in 24.4(a). It
supported Uganda’s proposal to replace “same” with “necessary” in 24.4(b).
World Federation of the Deaf noted the importance
of this Article to the development of one’s full potential and personality,
and for Deaf people in particular, for whom language is a basic to identity
development. Culture, for the Deaf community, is based in vision. The
right of language, identity, and culture does not mean segregation from
society because sign language spans other cultures. If these cultural
and linguistic rights of the Deaf community are not recognized, it will
be unable to develop to its full creative, artistic, and intellectual
World Blind Union strongly supported Thailand’s proposal
for 24.2, as even schoolbooks are covered by copyright and are sometimes
not able to be made accessible to persons with visual impairments. Regarding
24.4(c), WBU proposed adding text that refers to audio description as
a means to access to cultural material.
National Human Rights Institutions recognized the
merit in splitting this article into two separate articles, one dealing
with cultural life, and one dealing with recreation, leisure, and sport.
It recommended retaining 24.3.
Arab Organization of Disabled People recommended separating
cultural life from recreation, leisure and sport, because for PWD, sport
is not only recreation, but also deals with rehabilitation from a physical
and social perspective. It supported the proposals of Yemen.
World Union for Progressive Judaism supported the
inclusion of Article 24 and fully supported proposals adding the right
to have access to religious activities and services. It proposed a new
paragraph recommended that all cultural and religious materials be accessible.
ANNEX TO WG DRAFT TEXT: INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION
The Chair stated that there is no specific WG draft
Article on IC; rather, this issue was addressed in the summary of discussions
found in Annex II.
Mexico asserted it is necessary to include a separate
article on the issue of international cooperation (IC) in the Convention.
The WG agreed that while the responsibility to implement the provisions
of the Convention falls on national authorities, the complementary nature
of IC in supporting efforts to attain the goals set forth in the Convention
is an important element. Mexico proposed specific text for this new
Article that includes the variety of views voiced in the consultations,
and is followed by references to IC as it has appeared in legal instruments
and frameworks. The proposed additions recognized the various stakeholders
and sought to clarify IC in the context of this Convention, while attempting
to avoid misunderstandings or distortions. The proposed Article is divided
into three sections: 1) IC within and between States; 2) IC between
States and regional and international organizations; and 3) IC within
and among civil society and the private sector. In drafting this proposed
Article, Mexico considered different international juridically binding
instruments, resolutions, other documents, proposals, and publications
put before the Committee, using norms and standards appropriate to PWD.
Ireland, speaking on behalf of the EU, emphasised
that, as in the case of all human rights instruments, implementation
and fulfillment of the provisions would be primarily the responsibility
of individual States Parties. Implementation of the obligations undertaken
by States Parties to the Convention must not in any way be conditional
on receiving international aid or assistance. PWD must enjoy all human
rights and fundamental freedoms, and obligations of States toward non-discrimination
cannot be avoided or evaded on the pretext that there has not been IC.
The Committee should consider inclusion of a provision related to international
sharing and exchange of experience, expertise, and good practice to
assist in the effective implementation of the Convention. The EU made
a proposal on IC as part of Article 2(bis), and will make a proposal
on an appropriate reference in the Preamble.
Thailand supported the inclusion of this article as
a mechanism to implement this Convention. It particularly supported
the idea reflected in 1(c), but proposed amendments, so that it would
read: “Ensuring that existing and future IC activities, agreements,
and programs are inclusive to PWD.” In 1(d), “devices” should be replaced
by “technologies," a term which suggests a broader connotation.
The Chair stated that the Secretariat would not make
amendments to the provided text, as this is not a formal proposal by
South Africa, as coordinator of the African Group,
supported the inclusion of the issue of IC as a separate Article in
this Convention and supported the proposal made by Mexico. IC is important
at three different levels: 1) the governmental level; 2) the non-governmental
level; and 3) within the framework of international organizations. Issues
such as technology, capacity building, exchange of information, and
other issues should be highlighted in this proposal.
China considered IC to be important to the realization
of the goal of this Convention, and supported in principle to incorporate
the idea of IC in the Convention and that it should be included as a
India agreed that the progressive implementation of
the proposed Convention is the primary responsibility of national governments,
but recognized the enrichment process possible through the mechanism
of IC. It agreed with other delegations that this should be a separate
article and supported Mexico's proposal, but would also accept the formulation
which appears in Article 23.4 of the CRC with “PWD” replacing “disabled
children," as follows: “States Parties shall promote, in the spirit
of IC, the exchange of appropriate information in the field of preventive
health care and of medical, psychological and functional treatment of
PWD, including dissemination of and access to information concerning
methods of rehabilitation, education and vocational services, with the
aim of enabling States Parties to improve their capabilities and skills
and to widen their experience in these areas. In this regard, particular
account shall be taken of the needs of developing countries.”
Mexico asked for clarification of procedure on this
issue of IC.
The Chair replied that the Committee now is in a completely
different type of procedure as there was no agreement on including any
such language in the draft Convention proposed by the WG, instead the
Annex reflected the discussion. Therefore it would not be appropriate
to enter into a drafting discussion at this point, as this is the first
time the Committee as a whole considers the Annex of the report of the
WG, and whether or not there will be a drafting exercise is a decision
that will be taken at a later stage.
Commenced: 3:10 PM
Suspended: 5:23 PM
Reconvened: 5:59 PM
Adjourned: 6:00 PM
The discussion on International Cooperation was completed and included
several additional interventions on the manner of its inclusion in the
draft convention text. The latter half of the session was devoted to
procedural matters, on the agenda for the next day as well as AHC4,
and the question of whether NGOs could participate in informal consultations.
INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION (Cont)
Lebanon supported including IC in the preamble and
as an independent Article so as to ensure implementation of this Convention.
IC does not necessarily mean global cooperation. Lebanon supported in
principle the texts proposed by Mexico and China. The Mexico draft is
complete and comprehensive; Lebanon will study it further.
Jordan agreed that working together is important,
for disability as well as other matters. IC should appear in general
obligations, but not in a separate Article.
Yemen stated that the Convention needs to refer to
IC very explicitly to help States abide by the obligations. This will
not lead to inaction by States. IC can include expertise, information
exchange, and financial assistance. Contributions, for example, could
earmark a portion for PWD. Yemen agreed with Lebanon that IC should
appear both in the Preamble and a separate Article.
Australia agreed with the EU that implementing this
Convention is a national responsibility, and that compliance should
not be conditioned on receiving international assistance. It does not
oppose mentioning IC in the Convention, possibly as the EU’s Article
2(bis) or in the Preamble, either instead of or in addition to a separate
article. The Convention should be flexible in its implementation and
should not be too prescriptive. If IC is defined, it should be defined
as broadly as possible.
Israel stated that the area of disability is well-suited
for IC of all kinds. It agreed that the Convention is a matter for national
implementation and should not be dependent on IC. However, because of
its importance, IC should not just be in the Preamble, but should be
addressed in a separate Article. Israel recommends several amendments
to Mexico’s proposal. Because PWD have difficulties getting recognized
as disabled, a new subparagraph, 1(f), should be added as follows: "Conclude
agreements for the issue of regional or international disabled persons
cards for the purpose of various entitlements.” Because research is
important for PWD, 2(e) should be appended with the words “including
the establishment of bilateral, regional and international research
and development funds." Subparagraph 3(a) should be appended with
the words “including partnerships and cooperation agreements between
local and municipal authorities in different states.” IC should be distinguished
from the need for international and national monitoring of the Convention’s
Palestine noted that IC is already taking place and
a separate Article would be valuable, especially in the area of universal
design. Exchange of experience is vital so that States can implement
access concepts. States should provide information on the status of
Mexico was concerned that delegations' proposals were
not being reflected in the Secretariat’s Proposed Modifications, and
requested that this be done. Ireland later asked for clarification.
The Chair agreed that delegations' contributions would be recorded by
the Secretariat. Ireland stated that the EU has no disagreement with
this procedure, but noted that these notations should be done without
prejudice regarding whether or not to include them in the Convention.
Jamaica stated that IC should be a fundamental principle,
at all levels of the Convention, to ensure successful implementation.
Technical assistance to develop aids is needed; technology costs are
high because aids are made where few PWD live. Technology transfers
to more areas will allow more PWD to obtain aids and devices at less
cost. IC may also help to solve the problem of life insurance offered
by reinsurers in developed countries, who do not want to approve insurance
for PWD living in developing countries.
Costa Rica appreciated Mexico’s exhaustive work on
IC, but, echoing Australia, suggested that its proposed text may be
too detailed. IC should appear in both the preamble and in a separate
Article. Both North-South and South-South cooperation is needed.
New Zealand has not had an opportunity to study Mexico’s
proposal thoroughly and has formed no opinion as to where the concept
of IC should be placed, whether in a new or existing Article; however,
the concept is important to include. Mexico’s approach may be too long
and detailed and not appropriate for binding treaty language. This reflects
much of the debate surrounding this Convention; some delegations favor
detailed language and others prefer more general but legally enforceable
language. Any section on IC should take the same approach as the rest
of this Convention
Cuba stated that IC encourages implementation in countries
with lesser degrees of development. The spirit of solidarity needs to
be reflected. Mexico’s proposal is exhaustive and inclusive. The promotion
of IC should be an objective of this Convention.
Mali supported the principle of IC in this Convention,
in a separate article. Cooperation can be north-south and south-south.
IC does not mean dependence because no one is big and no one is small.
Argentina stated that IC is an important means to
achieving the Convention’s goals and objectives, but not as an obligation
in and of itself. It supported using the wording in the CRC which has
a reference in the preamble and in general obligations. Article 4 of
the CRC says: "States Parties will adopt all administrative, legislative,
and other measures to give effect to the provisions in this Convention."
The ICESCR says: "States Parties will adopt these measures to the
best of the resources available to them and when necessary within the
framework of IC." It believes this Convention should consider similar
Philippines highlighted that member states participation
in this Committee is in the spirit of IC to promote and protect the
rights of PWD, and therefore IC is integral to this Convention. It supported
the Mexican proposal.
Guatemala believed IC is essential for developing
full rights of PWD. It supported a separate article, not just in the
Preamble. It supported the principles in the Mexico text.
Trinidad and Tobago supported a separate article on
IC because implementation will be easier with North-South and South-South
Norway stressed that implementation of this Convention
rests with States Parties. IC cannot be a condition for implementation.
IC should be mentioned in the text to encourage national efforts, but
it should be succinct and principled. Mexico's draft is interesting,
but too detailed.
Viet Nam supported the Article proposed by China and
proposed additional language of its own.
Cameroon supported a separate Article on IC, such
as those proposed by Mexico and China, to mobilize IC to assist in the
implementation of this Convention. It will formulate wording for this
Japan supported a separate Article. It is concerned
that the lack of IC can be excuse for not implementing this Convention,
but IC will facilitate implementation. It believes IC covers information
exchange, best practices exchange, and cooperation between North-South,
South-South, and North-North. It will study Mexico and China’s proposal.
It asked for clarification as to whether the text of 2(e), "Fostering
bilateral, regional and international financial arrangements,"
refers to creating new mechanism or using current mechanisms.
Canada highlighted the difficulty of this issue, and
the fact that it requires careful drafting because the Convention is
a national responsibility and cannot be used to lessen obligations of
State Parties. It supported including a principled reference, not a
programmatic reference, to IC in the Preamble.
Chile supported the inclusion of IC in the preamble
because it sets the stage for the Convention. IC should also appear
in a separate Article, to guide member States.
Colombia supported a specific Article because IC is
not only a cost, but an investment. IC benefits both sending and receiving
Mexico replied to Japan by stating a right without
an appropriate mechanism is useless. There are many new standards in
this Convention and countries will need assistance to implement these
new standards. Paragraph 2(e) does not imply new entities, but using
resources that already exist and including in these programmes the equal
enjoyment of PWD.
The floor was open for comments from NGOs.
The Special Rapporteur affirmed that there is a moral
obligation to implement this Convention, throughout the entire international
community. Including IC as a separate Article is an expression of an
absolute requirement, and placing it in the Preamble reaffirms and strengthens
this Convention. IC does not necessarily mean material cooperation alone;
it also covers technical cooperation such as the exchange of information,
expertise, statistics, technology, research, and those means which might
improve communications and education. IC can mobilize technological
and financial resources. The role of institutions at all levels, international,
national and NGO, must be highlighted.
The Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific,
as the development wing of the UN, supported the emphasis on international
technical cooperation in ensuring the full enjoyment of the rights of
PWD. It considered this right to be included in the current text and
in the Bangkok draft of the Preamble. However, it might be more appropriate
and more effective to include the detailed steps for implementation
of technical cooperation in an Annex or perhaps separate documents such
as implementation guidelines, recommendations, or even an optional protocol
that was suggested by the ILO.
National Human Rights Institutions noted there are
many forms of IC that may support national efforts to realize the human
rights of PWD. One effective form is cooperation between national human
rights institutions, which in the past have been able to share their
substantive and technical expertise and other experiences with each
other in a number of areas, including on bilateral bases and regional
fora. Cooperation of this sort involving the exchange of information
and experience between and among developing countries in all directions
could be extremely helpful in the implementation of this Convention
and NHRI requested that the role of these institutions be recognized
in this context if a specific article on IC is to be included in this
Landmine Survivors Network called for the inclusion
of IC in this Convention. It has been invaluable to share information
and experiences across LSN networks in mine affected and post conflict
societies across the world. Although each network faces unique circumstances,
there are shared and common experiences, challenges, and solutions,
and without mechanisms to cooperate across networks, there is the risk
of reinventing the wheel. All countries face this danger if IC is not
incorporated as a supporting measure to aid implementation. North and
South and East and West alike can all learn from each other. The inclusion
of IC is important not only as a general principle but also as an implementation
measure. The treaty bodies for the core human rights conventions have
repeatedly expressed the need for technical cooperation in the implementation
of States’ obligations. Given the absence of an explicit disability
perspective in the UN Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) the inclusion
of IC, with its development sphere, will help ensure that the MDGs serves
the rights of PWD. IC has a basis in a number of existing international
instruments – ICESCR, CRC, virtually all environmental treaties, and
the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.
Handicap International asserted that IC based on exchange
of knowledge and experience is necessary to avoid a waste of resources
and effective implementation of this Convention. Billions are spent
by international organizations on reconstruction projects in post conflict
countries that create rather than remove barriers to access. Furthermore,
this Convention can be properly implemented only if disability organizations
are involved in the creation and monitoring of action plans.
People with Disabilities Australia, jointly with the
National Association of Community Legal Centres of Australia, Australian
Federation of Disability Organizations, Inclusion International, InterAmerican
Institute on Disability, and Forum for the Human Rights of People Disabilities
Costa Rica, and the National Federation of Disability Organisations,
supported the proposal by the Mexican and Chinese delegations for an
explicit framework for IC. In light of the fact that approximately 2/3
of the world’s 600 m PWD live in the developing world it is essential
that the practical implementation of this convention involve a transfer
of resources, knowledge, technical assistance and policy advice to the
developing world. People with disabilities are over represented among
poorest of the poor, and in order for them to benefit from this Convention,
IC is essential. IC is not limited to north to south transfers, but
also between developed states, in the harmonization of standards on
accessibility, on the regulation of non state actors, and in the removal
of structural barriers like intellectual property and copyright law,
telecommunications, insurance and civil aviation. It is important to
recognize that often IC will entail little more than information exchange,
and substantial resource transfer is already taking place through multilateral
banks and NGOs. Current aid programs often create, rather than eliminate,
barriers to people with disabilities. Eg inaccessible infrastructure,
or education programs that fail to include children with disabilities.
Both donors and recipients must mainstream disability issues. DPOs must
be supported within this framework given their importance in monitoring
and domestic implementation. They strongly support the position of the
EU that that all states must accept an immediate obligation to comply
with the terms of this treaty without preconditioning this on IC.
World Blind Union asserted that disability must be
mainstreamed in all international development cooperation. Whether IC
is mentioned in the Preamble or in an article of its own, this Convention
must recognize the duty of both developing and industrial countries
in this regard.
Rehabilitation International underlined the need for
a strong text that makes existing development cooperation consistent
with the needs of PWD, in for example, construction that is accessible,
healthcare, education, and technology. North- South technical cooperation
includes study visits, training / scientific exchange programs. South-South
cooperation includes best practices, networking, and workshops – these
have been essential to the advancement of disability to the standards
of today. RI sought to clarify a misunderstanding on the position of
some NGOs. NGOs recognize that the responsibility of implementing a
Convention of this kind lies with governments. This is not a question
of some countries “sending an invoice to other countries.” But IC could
be an important tool to fulfill the goals of this Convention.
European Disability Forum supported the position of
the EU that IC should not be used as an excuse for inaction. The responsibilities
that emanate from this Convention should not be dependent on the existence
of IC. However the elements of the Mexican proposals are welcome. IC
is a way to avoid “reinventing the wheel” as far as information exchange
was concerned. PWD need to be included in multilateral and bilateral
cooperation. Currently, as highlighted by previous speakers, public
funding continues to be used to establish new barriers that exclude
World Federation of the DeafBlind thanked Mexico and
China for this initiative. He noted that in the past decade IC has made
possible the emergence of DeafBlind organizations all over the world.
It has been difficult to enlist states in this effort but it is hoped
that with an Article on IC will help States open their eyes to the position
of the disability community.
Disabled Peoples International stated that 80% of
its members live in developing countries. IC needs further discussion
but it is critical to address so this Convention is useful to PWD.
The Arab Organisation for the Disabled asserted that
IC needs to be included as a separate article as well as in the Preamble.
It supported the Lebanon submission. IC includes exchange of experts,
training, conducting research, improving contacts between disability
activists and government officials and PWD throughout the world.
World Federation of the Deaf supports IC and cooperation
at many levels. In UN activities, including information society for
all, Millennium goals, and poverty reduction programmes, PWD need to
be considered. PWD have information and resources which can benefit
the world community. WFD is unsure whether the Convention needs a separate
article, but IC needs to be in the Preamble.
ILO, which works within a framework of IC, noted that
IC needs to promote a disability component in all international development
activities, and reach out to the World Bank and IMF who fund poverty
reduction programs. By drawing attention to the need to include PWD
in these programs, the Convention will make a significant contribution.
Chile proposed an Article on Access to Justice. It
stated that PWD have difficulties obtaining access to this fundamental
right. Its proposed text reads as follows: “States Parties must guarantee
adequate access to law for PWD to facilitate their ability to address
justice in judicial proceedings that could be contentious or not.” Courts
would have to train judges and court personnel so this right would be
guaranteed. It proposed a “Norm of Interpretation of the Convention”.
The provisions of the Convention should always be interpreted in terms
that favor PWD thereby avoiding any violation of the rights of PWD.
Mexico thanked Chile for these two proposals. In principle,
these proposals should be considered by the AHC, especially the second
proposal. It suggested the AHC consider an addition to the Convention:
This Convention should not undermine any rules or legislation that are
more favorable to PWD.
The Chair thanked everyone for working in a spirit
of transparency, democracy, mutual respect, and cooperation. Over 40
countries and 12 NGOs spoke at this meeting. As agreed in plenary, the
first reading of the Draft Text’s title, the structure, the Preamble,
Article 3, and Article 25 will be postponed to AHC 4 in August. The
schedule for Friday will be informal consultations on the consolidated
text of Articles 1 and 2 and, if there is time, Articles 6 and 9. The
AHC Bureau (Ecuador, South Africa, Sweden, and Philippines) has not
reached agreement regarding procedure in informal consultations. The
Bureau agreed to appoint “Friends of the Bureau” to facilitate the discussion
of some Articles, as follows: Articles 1 and 2 -- the Chair; Article
4 -- Argentina; Article 5 -- Liechtenstein; Article 6 -- the Philippines;
Article 8 -- Ecuador; Article 9 -- Canada; Article 10 -- Trinidad and
Tobago; Article 11 -- Sweden; Article 12 -- Czech Republic; Article
13 -- Morocco; Article 15 -- New Zealand; IC -- Mexico.
Ireland asked the Chair to confirm that NGOs will
be able to participate in the informal consultations, noting their essential
Mexico also sought clarification of procedure of informal
consultations, based on its understanding as facilitator that these
consultations are not closed to NGOs; that NGOs can participate in discussions
of Articles if there is no expressed opposition; and that private meetings,
which can be convened when the delegations deem it necessary, are the
only sessions closed to NGOs. Now is not the time for private consultations.
Mexico stated that it will not exclude NGOs from consultations that
Canada supported comments made by Mexico and the EU,
and expressed concern that some of the issues in Articles are linked,
but are assigned to different “Friends of the Bureau” to facilitate.
It asked for clarification regarding consistency in this facilitation.
Qatar asked for clarification about whether these
“Friends of the Bureau” discussions will be concurrent or one item at
Thailand wished to support the participation of DPOs
in these consultations. It asked the Chair to clarify whether discussions
will be concurrent or article by article.
The Chair responded that the Bureau was not able to
arrive at consensus regarding the procedure for tomorrow. Informal consultations
will not be held concurrently, in order to allow small delegations to
take part in all consultations. The Bureau will set up a timetable for
the next meeting. At the next session, the AHC will conduct the first
reading of deferred subjects -- the Preamble, Article 3, structure,
title, and Monitoring -- and will then address the rest of the process.
The AHC just finished its initial reading of draft Articles 1 to 24
(except Article 3), as well as proposals regarding international cooperation.
All proposed textual changes were made available to delegates and are
on the web to ensure accuracy. Three Bureau meetings were held where
not all members agreed on procedures for reviewing the draft. The Bureau
did agree to appoint facilitators, "Friends of the Bureau,"
for the discussions of Articles. These facilitators will have to prepare
wording and other input for the next session. It is the Chair’s understanding
that tomorrow’s consultations will not include NGOs. Some members of
the Bureau agree with that decision, while others do not.
Ireland was surprised at the decision of the Bureau
that there will be no presence of NGOs at the discussions tomorrow,
given that no delegation has expressed objections to their presence
at these meetings. NGOs expertise has been acknowledged in this Committee;
it is an expertise that governments do not and in fact cannot have.
It is essential that negotiations continue with the participation of
NGOs. The EU wishes to make its views known in the presence of NGOs,
and it is hoped that the decision is reconsidered. The EU feels very
strongly on this point.
The Chair clarified the Bureau’s position. Some members
of the Bureau believe that informal consultations mean meetings without
the presence of the NGOs. The Chair’s personal position is that NGOs
Canada asserted that bearing in mind the important
role of NGOs, if there were a ruling that NGOs could not participate,
Canada would not accept the role of facilitator. (Applause) Furthermore
it is vital that procedures are consistent across all informals. It
would be inappropriate if NGOs were permitted to participate in some
informal meetings and not in others depending on the facilitator. That
would be an unacceptable manner of proceeding.
New Zealand is dismayed with the Bureau's decision,
and does not agree to shift to private informal meetings. Private meetings
may be necessary at the end of negotiations to solve difficult problems,
but not at this stage. The founding principle of the NZ government’s
disability strategy is to develop laws and policies in partnership NGOs.
A founding principle of this Convention is that NGOs should work in
partnership to implement this Convention. It would be ironic and inconsistent
if the Convention itself excluded NGOs. It has nothing to say which
cannot be said in front of NGOs. If the AHC negotiates in open, informal
meetings and it is an intergovernmental negotiation process, NGOs are
not given a voice in the process, but should be able to observe. It
concurs with Canada’s decision not to facilitate any Article behind
closed doors and takes a similar position.
Thailand noted that the spirit of the Convention requires
the active involvement of DPOs; this cannot be achieved by their exclusion
from the process of achieving it.
Yemen was likewise surprised, and asked who opposes
NGO participation. It has nothing to hide from these organizations.
Meetings may be closed during the time States are negotiating political
positions, with regard to the relations of States. NGOs participated
and contributed to this Convention and therefore should be present at
all discussions. The speaker represents both the government of Yemen,
and an NGO. It insisted upon the need for NGOs to attend all discussions.
Israel strongly objected to excluding NGOs and PWD
and urged the Bureau reconsider its position as this is contrary to
the spirit of the Convention. The AHC must practice what it preaches.
It is an essential part of the disability rights revolution for PWD
to take responsibility for their own lives, as expressed in the motto
"nothing about us, without us." NGOs should be amongst the
facilitators. When considering an issue which concerns the rights of
PWD, Israel consults PWD and their organizations.
Mexico noted that both the General Assembly resolutions
and the decisions of the AHC are the point of reference for the participation
of NGOs. This process has benefited from the participation of NGOs from
its beginning two years ago. The Chair should decide to continue the
established process until the AHC collectively decides that it needs
a private meeting. This should not be a decision for the Chair or facilitators;
it is a collective decision. There may be a later stage when a private
meeting is necessary, but this is not the time. It proposed that the
meetings tomorrow be informal but not private, and that consultations
with facilitators be informal but not private, unless the AHC collectively
The Chair stated that he, personally agreed with many
of the comments, but that he was “in the hands” of the Committee. The
Chair asked if anyone was opposed to the participation of NGOs on meetings
about Articles 1 and 2.
Qatar stated that it fully supported the participation
of NGOs. It asked for clarification about whether the meetings tomorrow
would be informal or formal.
The Chair clarified the question: Is anyone opposed
to the meeting tomorrow morning being open?
Mexico responded to Qatar’s question by stating its
understanding of the rules: public meetings are open to participation
of NGOs and others, private meetings are not. Informal meetings are
not defined, a priori, as private. Informal meetings are distinguished
from public meetings in that there is no formal recording of the meeting
and no record keeping. The purpose of informal meetings is “to clean
up text, to bring positions closer together,” and to have informal discussions
without any formal recording of new proposals, to discuss items which
may lead to consensus. Mexico proposed tomorrow to have informal meetings
which are public.
Saudi Arabia asked for clarification about procedures
concerning “the compilation text”. It inquired whether, during the second
reading, delegations can submit additional proposals.
Malaysia noted that the terminology of Mexico on “public
and private” does not fit with the official parlance of UN procedure,
which refers to open and closed meetings, the latter being only for
Member States. It asked for clarification about what “cleaning up text”
means because it needs to consult with its home ministries for positions.
South Africa voiced grave concern that as the African
Group representative in the Bureau, “the conclusions (the Bureau) has
reached as to how to proceed from now on have not been followed.” After
extensive discussions on this matter, and after the proposals put forward
by the Africa Group, it asked for the suspension of the meeting for
further consultation with its Group and the Bureau to find an amicable
way to move forward. It stated the deliberations of the Bureau should
be in accordance with the decisions of the General Assembly (GA). In
the GA resolution, it states that if there is no consensus on participation
of NGOs, only government delegations will participate. If the AHC needs
to depart from the GA resolution, further discussion is needed to reach
a common understanding.
The Chair suspended the meeting. When the meeting
reconvened, the Chair announced that the Bureau had met and agreed that
the agenda for tomorrow will be in the format of a formal, open meeting
of the plenary to discuss Articles 1 and 2.
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