I am in complete agreement that we need to make use of the international experiences in monitoring that have governed other treaties (Human Rights, Women, Children…etc). At the same time we need to learn from them, in the sense that we should adopt their strengths and avoid the weaknesses that have become clear through years of practice.
The Convention that we are in process of drafting is unlike other conventions in that its purpose is not promote, protect and strengthen government action on the issues of one group of persons—i.e. such women or children. It is rather, a Convention that carries unprecedented moral and legal obligations and invites the international community to change its views, its knowledge, its direction, its behaviour and attitudes, its manner to manner of dealing with an entire population which encompasses women, men, children, the elderly. A population that has been marginalized and is also included among the most marginalized in the world: minorities, immigrants, refugees, the poor—whose marginalization is compounded by their disability. In short, we are drafting a document that is intended to change our perception of human beings and which will reinforce the value of all human beings by liberating persons with disabilities from discrimination, prejudice, neglect, pity and giving them their rightful place as equals.
Therefore, our success in putting forth an effective monitoring mechanism is the only guarantee we have to achieve this change and to reinterpret human values in a way that is unequivocal and which speaks to the principle: What is good for us is good for all.
Based on this vision, I suggest the following:
A comprehensive monitoring mechanism which takes into consideration the national, regional and international dimensions.
At the national level:
- Establishing a national commission to monitor implementation in each of the countries signatory to the Convention. Such a commission should include representatives from disabled persons organizations and activists from the disability movement specialized in the legal aspects covered in the Convention, whose activities would be to monitor government actions in implementing the Convention and recording violations in each of these countries.
- Appointing an Ombudsman (person) in each of these countries to receive the recorded violations and deal with them at the national level.
At the regional level:
- Establishing (or linking with an existing regional body) a regional committee to monitor the implementation of the Convention, in addition to following up, supporting and assisting governments in implementing the articles of the Convention.
At the international level:
- Establishing an international commission made up of experts in the field, activist, legal and human rights experts and representatives of disabled persons organizations whose duty is to review the reports of the national commissions, the Ombudsmen and the regional committee.
- This commission would work in close collaboration with an independent Special Rapporteur mandated to monitor the implementation of the Convention, but is also required to advocate for the Convention, support governments in their implementation strategies, encourage international cooperation on implementation and raise awareness of its importance.
Mr. Chair, Members of the Bureau
Having a strong mechanism for monitoring with air-tight procedures and a system of accountability is the only guarantee that this Convention will be fully implemented by governments.
The absence of such a monitoring mechanism will deprive the international community of the benefits and the great potential that this Convention carries towards changing attitudes, values, behaviours, and will greatly curb the positive effects we all hope it will have on the lives of persons with disabilities.