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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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Volume 4, #2
May 25, 2004

Morning Session
Commenced: 10:20 AM
Adjourned: 12:50 PM

China suggested new language for Article 4.1: “States Parties undertake to adopt legislative or administrative and other measures to ensure the full realization of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all individuals within their jurisdiction without discrimination of any kind on the basis of disabilities. With regard to economic social and cultural rights, States Parties shall undertake such measures to the maximum extent of their available resources and, where needed, within the framework of international cooperation.” China went on to suggest an amendment to 4.1(a), “to amend, repeal, or nullify any laws or regulations and discourage customs or practices that are inconsistent with this
Convention.” The Chinese amendments to Article 1 will be distributed later.

Ireland, speaking for the EU, responded to the comments made regarding the EU’s proposals for Article 4, and stated that it was not the EU's intention to turn the Convention into one about non-discrimination. Before the December (2003) meeting, the EU proposed a text of the Convention aimed at producing a strong document that will be implemented and ratified by the widest possible sector of the international community so that PWD can enjoy rights already guaranteed to them by international law. The EU advocates four basic principles -- non-discrimination, equality of opportunity, autonomy, and participation/inclusion -- which must remain at the core of the final Convention. Non-discrimination is an essential element that needs to be reflected in the Convention, which is why the EU proposed strengthening this language. The intent is not to dilute Article
4, and the EU fully respects both the Article and the Working group. The
EU reasoned that non-discrimination is essential because existing international human rights instruments already apply to PWD, but PWD still face denials of rights to which they are entitled, and states can bring about situations where PWD can enjoy full rights without discrimination. The EU affirmed that all human rights will apply to PWD, not just the rights stated in this Convention. The EU also stated that later it will suggest that Articles 18 and 19 be moved further up in the draft and that Article 4.2 (with amended language) be moved to Article 25. The EU read this amendment during the present discussion, without prejudice to where it might eventually be placed: “States, when developing and implementing policies and legislation to give effect to this Convention, shall take appropriate measures to ensure adequate consultation with, and involvement of, PWD and their representative organizations.”

Morocco stressed that in the body of Article 4 the question of progressive achievement of political, social, and cultural rights must be addressed in order to enable countries to achieve the purposes of Convention under the best possible circumstances.

Yemen, on behalf of the Arab Group, urged the AHC not to omit discussion of the Preamble, and suggested that certain articles discussed in haste could require further consideration later. Yemen also stated its desire to remain as close as possible to the Working Group text, as the WG considered numerous views. Amendments should be limited to explanatory notes or legal angles. The WG's draft of Article 4 should be preserved.

India agreed that the EU proposal deserves some attention. However, in order to reconcile various aspects of the Convention, India proposed that what is now Article 7.3 be moved to Article 4 after the discrimination clause. India proposed an amendment to 7.2, to delete the words “close" and “the active involvement of,” both of which are subjective and unnecessary. India proposed appending “and their families" because in some developing multicultural countries PWD have not reached a stage of empowerment where they can be “spokesmen for themselves.” Families should be included as stakeholders in all planning and policy discussions.

Next the floor was opened to interested NGOs.

Rehabilitation International stated that retaining the Article on general obligations is crucial, underscoring the congruity between this Convention and other existing human rights instruments, and that there should be a direct and visible correlation between Articles 4 and 1, with the purpose to secure full and equal enjoyment of all human rights for PWD. RI stated that it could live without the word “effective,” but only if it is understood that this is included in the word “equal.” RI, like Lebanon, New Zealand, Costa Rica, and Jordan, questions whether the EU proposal supports the underlying purposes of the Convention. Non-discrimination describes how rights are to be delivered, but does not go to the substantive content of these rights. It is a tool to advance the equal enjoyment of rights but does not exhaust the equality idea, and it does not go to the full enjoyment of human rights. RI supports a broader conception of the role of the treaty. Non-discrimination, though perhaps indispensable, is but a means to the ends of the Convention. RI proposes that the chapeau read, “In order to secure the full and equal enjoyment of the human rights of PWD, parties undertake without discrimination to” and then continue from there.

World Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry conceded the need for redrafting to make the Convention clearer, but cautioned against reducing the coverage and scope of the rights and obligations in this Convention. WNUSP also warned that it could be dangerous to overemphasize the role of families of PWD, especially if families are not working alongside of PWD. The participation of PWD needs to be the rule in the implementation of obligations.

PWD Australia and National Association of Community Legal Centers supported Article 4 in principle, but asserted that an explicit statement of international obligations is crucial. Two-thirds of the 600 million PWD live in the developing world, and practical implementation of this Article must involve the transfer of resources, technical assistance, and policy advice to the developing world. Without such a transfer people in developing countries will not benefit from this Convention. They further stated that it is important to understand that in many cases international cooperation will cost very little and will amount to information exchange about technical standards and the provision of policy advice based on domestic experience. There is already considerable resource transfer occurring between developed and developing States, through intergovernmental aid programs, and it is critical that these aid programs respect the rights of PWD. They affirmed the importance of cooperation on trade and commerce standards with regards to accessibility, telecommunications, copyrights, and so on, and they recommended an explicit statement on these international obligations in Article 4.

Asia Pacific Forum on National Human Rights Institutions (APF), speaking also on behalf of National Human Rights Institutions, raised a concern about the draft's absence of an explicit provision on remedies. In a Convention designed to ensure the effective and practical realization of the human rights of PWD, judicial and other appropriate remedies should be included as explicit provisions of the Convention. With regard to the progressive realization of economic, social, and cultural rights (ESCR), he pointed out that developments in ESCR over the last 20 years have meant that many of its aspects, like nondiscrimination, can in fact be effectively and immediately realized. This was reflected in the Bangkok and Chair’s Drafts.

Thailand supported the APF’s position that remedies should be a core part of the Convention. The rights of PWD continue to be violated repeatedly and by ignoring remedies it ignores the reality that “we cannot only look into the future, we have to come back and look at the past and present.” Thailand also expressed concern over an overemphasis on progressive realization, even though it has been proven repeatedly that some ESCR can be immediately implemented. This was well reflected in the Bangkok draft and should be reconsidered.

India echoed the position of Thailand and urged inclusion of a new paragraph from the Bangkok draft, obligating states to give immediate effect to those aspects of those ESCR rights that are capable of immediate implementation.

Costa Rica supported the proposal that the Bangkok text should be mentioned.
Jordan affirmed the importance of 4.2 on participation of PWD. It also agreed with India that the involvement and efforts of families on behalf of PWD should not be underestimated, and text to that effect should be included in Article 4, but should not be repeated in other Articles.

Uganda supported the retention of the Article on obligations to ensure that states understand their obligations under the Convention. Paragraph 4.1(c) should include the word “culture,” alongside economic and social, as this is the setting where people face discrimination and stigmatization. Uganda suggested that 4.1(f) substitute “to ensure” for “to promote,” as “ensure” is a stronger word that imposes commitments on states. Uganda offered a definition of “universally designed goods” - products, information, services and environments which are designed in such a manner that they are usable by all people including PWD with minimal adaptation and cost. Uganda recommended that 4.2 be broadened to include families of PWD, professionals and experts.

Costa Rica reaffirmed the importance of maintaining in the text of 4.1 the concept of non-discrimination on the grounds of disability.

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