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Facilitator’s text on women and children with disabilities
The Chair stated that the discussion would focus only on the issues related to women and children and the facilitator’s proposed text (http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/enable/rights/ahc7docs/ahc7fachwo1.doc).
He requested that delegates restrict their comments to essential and fundamental issues related to that focus area.
The Facilitator on Children apologized to Braille users for the unavailability of the facilitator’s text in Braille due to technical problems. She reported the proposed text received good support in the facilitator’s group (FG) meetings. The FG had attempted to mainstream children’s issues throughout the thematic areas in the draft convention, while still asserted that there should be a separate article (Article 7) on children rather than to incorporate the principles in Article 4 on General Obligations. The Facilitator proceeded to review the proposed text.
Article 1 - Preamble was well supported within the group and incorporated proposals from the EU and the Russian Federation. The Facilitator noted that it is critical for the Preamble to address children, as they lack legal capacity. Article 4 - General Principles included the concept of respect for the evolving capacity of children. The small addition to Article 4 was made to ensure that children are not excluded from the development of law and policy. Article 7 – Children with Disabilities covered in the first three paragraphs the fundamental human rights of children with disabilities and addressed the special protection and assistance needs in the fourth paragraph. The Facilitator reiterated the strong preference to include this separate article on children but noted the group’s flexibility regarding its incorporation in Article 4 as an alternative. There was a small proposed change to Article 13 – Access to Justice to reflect that children with disabilities should be empowered to express themselves and receive age-appropriate accommodations in relation to legal proceedings. The rationale for inserting (2 bis) in Article 17 – Protecting the Integrity of the Person was to prevent children with disabilities from being sterilized to satisfy parents’ concerns. Although this is also a health issue, the group believed it was better placed in Article 17. However, the Facilitator stipulated that this was contingent on the title of that article being retained as it currently stands, a question that had not yet been concluded by the Ad Hoc Committee. The proposed new paragraph to Article 18 – Liberty of Movement and Nationality is extremely important in that it guarantees the right of children with disabilities be registered at birth and to a nationality. Without such registration, accurate demographic assessments, which are necessary to provide adequate programs and services, are not possible. The Facilitator expressed the group’s strong desire that the title of Article 18 be amended to encapsulate the registration concept. The Facilitator noted that the Chair’s draft Article 23 – Respect for Home and the Family had taken into consideration some important proposals and was supported by the FG, with the addition of two additional paragraphs. She noted that the addition of 23 (2.bis) is intended to promote healthy attitudes toward children with disabilities and to promote their self-esteem from an early age. The Facilitator noted that the remainder of the proposals in the facilitator’s text were self-explanatory.
The Chair repeated that the purpose of the discussion was to identify the level of support for the facilitator’s text only. He clarified that the facilitator’s text was based on the Working Group’s text, not the most current Chair’s text. He reassured the delegations there are no elements in the current Chair’s text that would have any bearing on the facilitator’s proposals. He asserted that a key question was whether women’s and children’s core issues should be addressed in separate articles or incorporated Article 4.
Austria, on behalf of the EU, stated that the interests of women and children are not better served by separates articles and the EU therefore supported incorporating them into Article 4, in separate paragraphs, such that they would clearly apply to the convention as a whole. It noted that its position was available electronically (http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/enable/rights/ahc7contgovs.htm). The EU proceeded to review the facilitator’s text and it’s own written proposal on both women and children. For the facilitator’s text regarding women, the EU supported the proposed text in the preamble. It proposed that the first paragraph of Article 6 be incorporated instead in Article 4, with the changes reflected in the its written proposal. It did not support the second paragraph of Article 6, as it might imply that women with disabilities are entitled only to the rights in this convention. The EU preferred a different version to the facilitator’s proposed text in 16(1), as reflected in its written proposal. It supported removing the square brackets around 23(c) and retaining the text with the amendments reflected in its written proposal. The EU preferred a different version to the facilitator’s proposed text in 25(b bis) as reflected in its written proposal. It noted that sterilization should be addressed in terms of prohibiting forced sterilization, because voluntary sterilization should be a choice available to women with disabilities on an equal basis with other women.
Regarding the facilitator’s text on children, the EU found the text in the preamble to be confusing and offered an alternative formulation in its written proposal. It preferred a shortened version over the facilitator’s text in 3(h), as reflected in its written proposal. Consistent with its position on a separate article on women, the EU preferred that the issue of children be dealt with in its own paragraph in Article 4. To this end, it proposed condensing the three paragraphs comprising Article 7 into a single paragraph to be incorporated in Article 4, as reflected in its written proposal. It noted that its condensed version is more consistent with the CRC than the facilitator’s text. The EU preferred a different version to the facilitator’s proposed text in 13, as reflected in its written proposal. It did not support the addition of 17(2 bis) and had reworded the text of 18(2) to be more in line with the CRC. The EU supported the facilitators text for 23(2 bis) but did not support its proposal for 23(2 ter), as it viewed this as a new concept and did not support introducing concepts not found in the CRC.
With respect to the common provisions, The EU supported Article 8, with slight changes to eliminate age considerations, noting that stereotyping by age is not common and the focus should remain on gender. It proposed changing “age specific” to “child specific” in 16(2) and did not support addressing protection services in that paragraph, noting that this is addressed in 16(4). However, the words “that take into account gender and child specific needs” should then be added after “protection services” in 16(4). The EU proposed amending 16(5) to be inclusive of gender and child sensitive legislation and policies while not implying that all legislation and policies should be focused on women and children. It supported Article 31, with the deletion of “all” in 31(0.1). The EU preferred a different version to the facilitator’s proposed text in 33, as reflected in its written proposal. It supported the facilitator’s proposal to Article 39(2), with one amendment. The EU referred to its “Non-paper on International Monitoring” which reflects its proposed language to Article 44.
Russian Federation supported separate articles on women and children, however it was prepared to be flexible regarding incorporating women and children into Article 4. It supported the EU proposals regarding women in Article 6, Article 16(1), Article 23(b) and Article 25. The Russian Federation did not support the EU proposal regarding children in the Preamble, noting that it did not find the facilitator’s text confusing or misleading. It urged caution regarding the EU proposal to Article 3. It supported the EU’s condensed version of the first three paragraphs of the facilitator’s text for Article 7, although it preferred to preserve the language in a separate article rather than incorporate in Article 4. It supported the facilitator’s text on 7(4), noting the paramount importance of ensuring the integration of children with disabilities in society, especially when they are not taken care of by their families. The Russian Federation supported the facilitator’s text relating to children for Articles 13, 17, 18 and 23, although it noted that 23(2 ter) may be an unnecessary repetition of Article 7. It did not support the EU’s opinion regarding Article 8 that stereotypes and prejudices only relate to women. The right of children to develop their individuality is often not respected as a result of disability. It supported the EU proposals to Articles 16 and 33.
Serbia and Montenegro supported the facilitator’s text of the Preamble regarding women. It preferred to incorporate Articles 6 and 7 into Article 4, however it expressed its flexibility on this point. It noted that the separate provision in the CRC on children with disabilities had not had the desired effect of mainstreaming their issues in children’s rights. It supported the EU wording for Articles 6 and 16 regarding women, noting that Article16 provided a better balance in terms of recognizing that abuse is not restricted to women with disabilities. It supported the facilitator’s text on women for Articles 23 and 25 (with the addition of “forced” before “sterilization”). Regarding children, Serbia and Montenegro requested clarification in the facilitator’s text regarding the Preamble. It assumed that the statement that children with disabilities should enjoy human rights on an equal basis with others intended to refer to an equal basis with other children, not necessarily with all other people. Children do not enjoy the same rights as adults in some areas. It supported the facilitator’s text on children for Article 3. In Article 4, Serbia and Montenegro was concerned with the wording regarding consultation with children and suggested that the concept did not need explicit mention, or at least required reformulation. In Article 7, it reiterated the same concern it had with regard to the Preamble’s treatment of children enjoying their human rights and expressed that 7(4) was not clearly worded. It preferred the EU formulation of Article 7. It supported Article 13 with regard to children but suggested that a gender dimension also be added to accommodate sensitive situations regarding women who are victims of rape and require special accommodations as a result. It supported Articles 17, 23, 8, 16 and 44 of the facilitator’s text. It was not sure of the added value of 31(0) but did support 31(0.1). It preferred the EU’s versions of Article 18, 33, and 39. Serbia and Montenegro asked the Women’s IDC to “flag” the issue of gender in relation to the articles on education and employment, noting that perhaps this could be discussed at the next session of the AHC.
The Chair noted a structural issue in the Preamble and that Article 3 uses the formulation “on an equal basis with other children,” which might solve the problem in the Preamble.
Australia strongly supported a separate article on women and the mainstreaming of gender issues throughout the text. The multiple discrimination experienced by women and girls is based on the intersection of disability and gender. It was flexible regarding the separate mention of women in the text but cautioned that it might weaken the effect if it is too frequent. Australia supported the facilitator’s text in the Preamble and Article 6(1). It was concerned that the facilitator’s proposed text in Article 16 created a hierarchy between men and women and suggested the language be replaced by “noting that women and girls are particularly vulnerable in such circumstances.” It supported the reference in 25(b bis) but proposed that the language regarding coercive treatment and sterilization be deleted as they are dealt with in other articles. It did not support 31(0), which was too prescriptive, but did support 31(0.1). Australia was flexible regarding a separate article on children. If separate references to children are included, it supported the facilitator’s proposed 3(h) and Article 4. It did not support 17(2 bis). It supported 23(2 ter) with an additional sentence to read “In making any arrangements, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.” Australia supported retaining references to “age sensitive” rather than changing the term to “child sensitive,’” to avoid precluding older age discrimination as well.
Jordan affirmed that women and children are at greater risk for discrimination but noted that this is the case for many populations. Therefore, Jordan did not support separate articles. It preferred that these subjects be addressed in the Preamble and in Article 4. It supported the facilitator’s text for 23(b). It did not support 31(0) and 31(1.0), stating that they were unnecessarily detailed and the concepts already implicit in the text.
Thailand supported a separate article on women with disabilities and was flexible regarding a separate article on children with disabilities.
Yemen stated that the emphasis on women and children is critically important. However, it believed that including separate articles on women and children would create unnecessary repetition and open the door for separate articles on other special populations. If separate articles are included, caution should be exercised to avoid repetition and there should be a precise explanation of the Articles’ scope to ensure that they are different from other articles.
Canada generally supported the twin track approach to integrating the issues of women in the convention. It stated that it would review the facilitator’s text article by article and noted its opinion that a gender dimension should also be included in Articles 24, 27 and 29. It had proposals for these additional articles but would refrain from addressing them until the Chair advised them to do so. In Article 9, it proposed replacing “focused, empowerment and gender sensitive measures are necessary” with “focused measures to promote their empowerment and gender equality are necessary.” In Article 16, “within and outside the home” should be replaces with “in public and private settings.” Canada proposed replacing the facilitator’s text in Article 16 with “including their gender-based manifestations.” In Article 23, Canada proposed deleting “to the extent permitted by national laws.” It strongly supported 25(b bis) but proposed that the latter part of the sentence be separated into a new paragraph (25(b ter) to read: “protect persons with disabilities from all forms of coercive treatment, including forced sterilization.” In 31(0), Canada proposed adding “representative” before “organizations.” In 31(0.1) Canada proposed amending the second part of the sentence to read: “ensure that a gender analysis is applied to the data.” Canada accepted the facilitator’s proposed text on Children with the following changes or reservations. It preferred the Preamble proposed by the EU. It shared concerns with Serbia and Montenegro on the issue of consulting with children in Article 4 and therefore suggested replacing “and” with “or” before “their representatives.” Canada was flexible regarding a separate article for children and supported the proposed facilitator’s text for Article 7, with the exception of a concern regarding 7(4). The language appeared to be drawn from 3(2) from CRC but was not entirely consistent with that text. Canada proposed rewording the beginning of that paragraphs to read: “States Parties shall undertake to ensure that every child with a disability has such measures of protection…” Canada proposed moving the reference to sterilization n 17(2) to Article 16 on Violence and Abuse and rephrasing the language to protect children from non-therapeutic sterilization on the parents’ request on an equal basis with others. In 23(2), Canada proposed replacing “provide” with “facilitate.”
Canada noted that the facilitator’s text represented new language and that delegations had not had time to consult nationally on that language.
China supported separates articles on women and children with disabilities. Regarding the facilitator’s text on women, to make it more comprehensive, proactive and consistent with CEDAW, it suggested borrowing the following adapted language from Article 3 of CEDAW to replace the language in 6(3) after the word “ensure: “the full development and advancement of women with disabilities, for the purpose of guaranteeing them the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms on a basis of equality with men” In 25(2)(b bis) it proposed adding to the end of the paragraph “to retain their facilities on the same basis as other women and to the extent that these are permitted by national laws of general application.” It stressed the need for adherence to national laws on this point. Regarding the facilitator’s text on children, it supported the formulation “on an equal basis with other children” wherever “on an equal basis with others” appears, and the addition of that phrase in 7(1) after “fundamental freedoms.” In 7(2), “in all actions” should be replaced by “in all matters” and “paramount” replaced with “primary.” It supported the deletion of 17(2 bis). It was concerned about consistency of language within the convention and clarity with regard to terms such as “age appropriate accommodations” and others that might create confusion.
The Chair noted the last comment by China needed to be discussed. He noted that the CRC frames the “best interest of the child” as a primary consideration, consistent with China’s proposal.
New Zealand noted that it had previously asserted its position that groups vulnerable to multiple discrimination should be addressed in the various thematic articles, which had been done by the facilitators. It noted that any text not commented on in its intervention was text that it could accept. With relation to gender specific text, it could accept either the facilitator’s text or the EU proposal on Article 3 It noted it preferred the EU proposals for Articles 16, 23(c) and 25. Regarding the proposed text on children, it noted its observation that the text of 7(4) had not generated much support in the facilitator’s group. Though the concept was recognized as important, its coverage was better placed elsewhere and, in fact, did appear - in an improved formulation - in Article 23 of the facilitator’s text. In addition, the text represented an unnecessary repetition of CRC language and had been altered such that it was actually weaker than what appears in the CRC. It noted that it could support Article 7 with the exception of 7(4) or the EU proposed Article 7 with the reinsertion of the sentence from the facilitator’s text regarding age and disability appropriate assistance. It supported replacing “paramount” with primary.” It fully supported the facilitator’s text for Article 23 and disagreed with the EU that the obligations in 23(2 ter) are wider than those in the CRC. It noted the IDC’s comments regarding Article 23 and agreed that the text is extremely important. It supported “age sensitive” instead of “child sensitive” throughout the text. It supported the deletion of “all” in 31(0.1) and Canada’s comments and suggestions regarding monitoring. Canada preferred to incorporate the subjects of woman and children into Article 4 rather than include separate articles on them. However, it would be flexible in this regard. Its main concern regarding the management of the matter was that addressing so specifically the needs of these two particular groups may have the unintentional effect of minimizing the importance of other groups that also face double discrimination. Canada requested that the committee take careful note of this question in its deliberations regarding the ultimate placement of the texts on women and children, in particular pointing to proposals made by Australia at previous sessions.
Uruguay supported including separate articles for women and children as well as addressing the issues throughout the relevant thematic portions of the text. Uruguay supported the following proposals regarding women: the facilitator’s text for the Preamble and Article 6 ; the language of the EU or Australia for Article 16; the EU proposal for Article 23 with the replacement of “men and women” with “persons” in 23(b); the EU proposal to 25(b). Regarding the issue of children, Uruguay proposed that, in the Preamble, the additional protocols be mentioned as well as the obligations under the CRC. It supported the facilitator’s text of Article 3. Though it supported a separate article on children, in the event that this is not included, Uruguay favored the EU proposal for Article 4. It asserted that the term “on an equal basis with others” is understood to refer to other children and supported changing “paramount” to primary.” It supported “age appropriate” instead of “child appropriate” where that term appears. It supported the facilitator’s text for Articles 17 and 18, and preferred Canada’s proposal for 23 (2 ter). In Article 8, it supported retaining the reference to age. It supported the facilitator’s text for Articles 16 and 31.
Norway supported the comments and proposals made by the EU. It preferred including the issues of women and children in Article 4 but would be flexible regarding separate articles. It would be open to discussion gender equality in the articles on education and employment.
Mexico stressed the need for concrete and affirmative action rather than declaratory language in the convention. It could support separate articles on women and children. Regarding the facilitator’s text on women, it supported the Preamble, Article 16 and Article 23 (with the replacement of “men and women” with “persons” in 23(b)). It suggested that 6(1) and (2) be merged to be more action oriented and that the EU proposal for 6(2) be incorporated. Mexico stated that Article 25 already contained the necessary elements and thus it did not support the introduction of new elements. Regarding the facilitator’s text on children, Mexico supported the Preamble and Article 3, In Article 4, the mention of children should be balanced with what is said about women. Article 7 should also be balanced and careful not to duplicate elements in CRC or other articles of the draft convention. It did not support Articles 13 or 17. It supported Article 18, as extremely important especially in rural areas. It would review Article 23 but stated that the elements therein were already addressed in the convention. Regarding the common provisions, it did not support Article 8. It supported Article 16. In Article 31, Mexico proposed retaining only the mention to disaggregation of data, as appropriate. Regarding monitoring, it stated that it is the mechanism itself that is the key to assuring the rights of women and children and thus it did not support adding language on women and children to these articles. Regarding Article 44, Mexico suggested including the entire UN system and promoting “an implementation culture” among all involved elements.
Bosnia and Herzegovina supported the EU proposal for Article 4 on women. It supported Serbia and Montenegro’s proposal to include gender sensitive language in Article 13. It supported including “forced” before sterilization” in 17(2 bis) and the term “child appropriate” over “age appropriate.” Regarding Article 18, it proposed that the text be strengthened by deleting “shall take all necessary measures to.”
Islamic Republic of Iran supported a separate article on women but noted its flexibility. Regarding the text on children, it supported “on an equal basis with other children” in the Preamble. In 23(2 ter), it noted repetition of 7(4) and suggested that the two be amalgamated. It supported Canada’s point regarding the word “facilitate,” but noted that in some cases the state would need to “provide” the actual service and therefore suggested that both words be included.
Israel supported the approach of the facilitator’s text to include separate articles as well as to mainstream women’s and children’s issues in thematic areas. It noted that it would comment only on those parts of the facilitator’s text with which it had a concern or was not in agreement. Regarding separate articles on women and children, it noted Serbia and Montenegro’s proposal to include the language in Article 4 as well. Regarding the text on women, the Preamble’s language should merge concerns in relation to children and the aged. It supported widening the language in Article 16 by amending it to read “in particular that directed to persons with disabilities who are at special risk, including the aged, children and girls and women in relation to their gender based aspects.” Regarding the text on children, it supported replacing “paramount” with “primary” in 7(2) and the IDC proposal for 7(4). Regarding the common provisions, Israel did not support Article 8. It strongly supported the IDC’s proposal for Article 16, with retention of the substance of the facilitator’s text in relation to protective service that are age, gender and disability sensitive. Israel noted that some drafting work would need to be done to achieve this. Regarding implementation and monitoring, it did not support the additional language of the facilitators.
Costa Rica did not support separate articles for on women and children, but preferred mainstreaming these issues. However, noting that children have a very special legal status and, if framed specifically in this regard, Costa Rica might support a separate article on children. However, it would not support a separate article if it also dealt with women, indigenous groups, etc. It supported the concept of the evolving capacity of children. It supported consideration of gender issues in the articles on employment and education.
Brazil supported separate articles on women and children and the mainstreaming of these issues throughout the text. Though it generally supported the facilitators’ texts, it noted the newness of the proposals and stated that it did not have many specific comments at the time. Brazil agreed that gender specific language is needed specifically when referring to employment and education. It noted its concern regarding the language surrounding consultation with children in the development of law and policy in Article 4.
The morning session was adjourned.
Facilitator’s text on women and children with disabilities (continued)
Japan did not support separate articles on women and children, stating that their inclusion in the Preamble, Article 3, Article 4, and several specific articles would suffice. Though it did not support separate articles, Japan noted that it would comment on Article 6 and Article 7 of the facilitator’s text. Regarding the text on women, it noted general support for the Preamble and Articles 16 and 23. It proposed the deletion of “empowerment” in 6(1), noting that the word is confusing and grammatically unclear. Regarding the text on Children, it supported the Preamble and Article 3. It opposed the language in 4(3) regarding consultation with children, stating that it goes beyond Article 12 of the CRC in that the CRC limits the right to be consulted to children who are capable of forming views in a manner consistent with national law. It therefore proposed either to delete “including children with disabilities” or to add “in a manner consistent with the applicable laws.” Japan also noted that it would reflect on Canada’s proposal to replace “and” with “or” in the relevant language, which may resolve their concern. It proposed adding “particularly taking into account Article 23 of CRC and other relevant provisions of the convention” to the end of 7(1). It suggested amending 7(3) by utilizing the same language it proposed for 4(3), regarding consultation with children. It stated that it would not be able to implement or accept the wording “through reasonable accommodations to the process” in Article 13 if it conflicts with the independence of its judiciary system by requiring judges and courts to take measures themselves. It also sought clarification of the meaning of “age appropriate accommodations” in Article 13. It proposed adding “on an equal basis with others” to the end of 18(2). To be consistent with Article 20(2) of the CRC, Japan proposed replacing in 23(2 ter) “within the community” with “on an equal basis with others,” noting that, because Japan provides alternative care for children with and without disabilities, the provision should to apply to all children. It supported Canada’s proposal to replace “provide” with “facilitate.” Regarding the common provisions, it supported Articles 8 and 16. It proposed the deletion of 31(0), stating that involvement or participation of women in the design, collection, and analysis of data is a not really a gender matter. However, if it is retained, Japan proposed adding “if appropriate” to the end of the chapeau in 31(1). It supported the retention of 31(0.1). It proposed deleting “men and women” from 33(3) because it is not always possible to involve men and women at all levels of the monitoring process.
The United States, with respect to the text on women, supported Mexico’s statement that there is no need to reopen the debate on Article 23. It preferred the EU text for a new 25(b)(bis) because it has certain advantages and is more broadly applicable, but could support the facilitator’s text. It suggested that the reference to family planning in that paragraph include the word “voluntary.” Regarding forced sterilization, it supported the Women’s IDC and Canada’s point that the complexity of this issue the differences as it relates to women and children may warrant inclusion of the concept in multiple provisions. It was concerned about Canada’s proposed language referring to “non therapeutic” sterilization of children, stating that this term had been misused in the past in relation to this subject. It suggested that language be developed to cover the issue of medically necessary procedures that have the side affect of sterilization. It supported in Article 13 the reference to “appropriate accommodations” in the judicial sector, noting that the American with Disabilities Act has new guidelines for building specifications that take into account the needs of children with disabilities. It preferred “age appropriate” to “child appropriate” in order to include the elderly with disabilities. The US supported the facilitator’s text of Article 23. It supported the general concept of empowerment of women as illustrated in the Women’s IDC document, though it was not proposing any specific amendment of the facilitator’s text in this regard.
Korea supported a separate article on women. It stated that the language in 6(1) should be strengthened and more action-oriented, perhaps by adding “and undertake to implement” or similar language after “recognize.” It noted support for the EU’s proposed text for 6(2), including the language “on an equal basis with others,” stating that the facilitator’s text confines women with disabilities to the benefits of this Convention only while the EU text is broader in this respect. It expressed concern about the omission of a gender dimension in the articles on education and employment. It noted that these subjects had, at one point, been included in the facilitator’s draft and requested an clarification regarding their absence in the final proposal. Korea stated that it had been undecided about including a separate article for children with disabilities but that, given the weakness of the language in CRC Article 23 and its failure to provide adequate protection to children with disabilities, it was now inclined to favor inclusion of a separate article as long as the language was strong and distinct enough. It reserved its final opinion on Article 7, noting that several good proposals for strengthening the text had been made.
Ethiopia did not separate articles on women and children with disabilities, stating that it would exclude other vulnerable categories of persons with disabilities. It noted that there are already separate conventions for children and women, such as the CRC and CEDAW.
South Africa stated that because women and girls are particularly vulnerable, the references to them should be moved to the Convention’s Preamble, obviating the need for a specific article. It proposed amending the language of the facilitator’s Preamble to “Recognizing that women and girls with disabilities are subject to multiple discrimination and that they are often at greater risk of gender based violence, exploitation, poverty, injury, abuse and neglect.” It recognized that the question of poverty is already addressed in Preamble paragraph (j), but, because it forms the central idea of the Millennium Development Goals, it would also be appropriate within the context of women and girls. It proposed streamlining Article 6 to read, “States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure full and equal enjoyment by women and girls with disabilities of all human rights and fundamental freedoms on an equal basis with others, including focused empowerment and gender sensitive measures in order to implement this convention and other applicable conventions with respect to women and girls with disabilities.” It noted that while this concept may be contained in the General Principles, due to the particular vulnerability of women and girls the repetition of the principles is acceptable. Regarding the articles dealing with children, South Africa supported generally the facilitator’s text. It supported deleting “by reason both of their physical and mental immaturity” in the Preamble and preferred the IDC text for this provision. It supported deletion of “to preserve his or her identity” in 3(h) because it is already covered in the CRC, but supported the language “every child with a disability”. It supported the facilitator’s text of Article 4, 7(1), 7(2), and 7(3) and proposed “States Parties shall ensure measures are taken for the protection and care of children with disabilities and that they have access to children’s services on an equal basis with other children” for 7(4). It supported the facilitator’s Articles 23 and 24. It noted the need in Article 25 to emphasize women with disabilities. It proposed in Article 31 that data collection and disaggregation of statistics should focus on gender-based analysis. It proposed in Article 32 that there should be a method of including development indicators for women and children to facilitate the monitoring process. With regard to the articles on women and children, South Africa stated that the facilitator’s text lacks the legal framework, therefore adjustments must be made in the text to address this issue. It supported inclusion of references to women and children in Article 4 as well as in separate articles.
Jamaica was flexible in terms separate articles on women and children, noting that first and foremost the Convention addresses discrimination and disadvantage on the basis of disability. It noted the concerns of other delegations that the specific mention of women and children only might lead to exclusion of other vulnerable groups of persons with disabilities. In terms of the situation of men versus women, Jamaica stated that in the Caribbean, men also face certain disadvantages as a group. For example, male children are more likely to be abandoned than female children with disabilities. It supported the additional inclusion of specific reference in Article 16, as suggested by Israel, to the elderly with disabilities to highlight their particular vulnerabilities as a group. Accordingly, it also supported New Zealand’s suggestion to replace “child sensitive” with “age sensitive.” It supported replacing “with others” with “with other children” in the Preamble. It noted that Article 31(0) should read “persons with disabilities” to emphasize that persons with disabilities as a whole and their representative organizations should have a voice in the research. In 31(0.1) it did not support the mention of the elements of sex and age since various other elements important to different societies are not specifically mentioned. It did support South Africa’s point concerning gender-based analysis.
Kenya supported separate articles for women and children and mainstreaming of the issues throughout the thematic areas. It supported Costa Rica’s rationale for addressing children’s issues very specifically—because children lack legal capacity—as well as the reasons put forth by the IDC. It supported a separate article for women with disabilities based on their vulnerability to multiple discrimination. It supported the EU’s proposal to merge 7(1), 7(2), and 7(3) into a single paragraph, but it proposed retaining them in Article 7 rather than moving them to Article 4. It supported the IDC proposal to reword 7(4).
India agreed that women and children with disabilities are more vulnerable to neglect, abuse and discrimination and supported the need for specific provisions to protect their human rights and fundamental freedoms. However, it noted that there may not be a need to have a separate article for each group, though it remained flexible on the issue. Regarding the facilitator’s text on women, it supported the Preamble. It suggested that 6(2) and 25(b)(bis) be changed to reflect CEDAW language. It proposed adding “especially with women girls with disabilities” to after “persons with disabilities” in 16(1). Regarding the text on children, it noted that, with respect to 4(3), the facilitator’s text should be modified to reflect the fact that due to practical limitations consultation must often be conducted solely through representative organizations, rather than directly with the children. It supported replacing “paramount” with “primary” in 7(2). It proposed deleting 2(bis), which it stated is unnecessary since the subject had already been addressed. [Editor’s note: it was not clear whether the speaker was referring to Article 17 or Article 23.] It suggested that 23(2 ter) be amended to reflect the primary responsibility of States Parties as facilitators in this issue. It proposed deleting 31(0) because it is has already been addressed in General Obligations. It supported deleting “all” from 31(0.1).
The Syrian Arab Republic supported separate articles on women and children as well as references in relevant thematic articles. With respect to the provisions regarding women, it suggested adding in the Preamble language regarding the risks to women and girls with disabilities in times of foreign occupation. It proposed adding “on an equal basis with others without discrimination on the basis of disability” to 6(1) and 6(2), noting its desire for women with disabilities to enjoy rights on an equal footing with “other women.” It did not support the facilitator’s text of 16(1) stating that it could be interpreted as reverse discrimination. It suggested replacing that language with “without discrimination between the two sexes.” It supported replacing “men and women” with “persons” in 23(b), but noted that it could tolerate the existing language if “according to the national laws and regulations” is added to the end of the sentence. It supported deletion of the entire bracketed text in 23(c). It did not support “gender sensitive” in the chapeau of Article 25, stating that it was unclear. It did not support 25(b bis), which it asserted was linked with the subject of 23(c). Regarding the text on children, it expressed concerns with the Preamble and proposed inserting “children” after “on an equal basis with others.” It supported the concept in 3(h) of the evolving capacities children but asserted that the language regarding preservation of identity was ambiguous. It stated that the mention of persons with disabilities in Article 4 is sufficient and that specific mention of children is not necessary. It proposed adding “on an equal basis with other children” to the end of 7(1), and it supported the replacement of “paramount” with “primary” in 7(2). It had no concerns with 7(3), but did not support. 7(4) because its content is inconsistent within the paragraph and also conflicts with other conventions. It disagreed with the added text “through reasonable accommodations to the process, including age appropriate accommodations,” in Article 13 stating that the meaning of “accommodations” is ambiguous. It also disagreed with 23(2 bis) because of ambiguity in meaning. It asserted that 23(2)(ter) was too vague with respect to who would make the determination as to whether the family was capable of caring for a child with disability; it stated that there should be no room for interpretation in this part of the provision. Finally, it stated that Article 11, on Situations of Risk, should contain language regarding the special situation of women and children with disabilities.
Mauritius supported the inclusion of separate articles as well as provisions specifically addressing women, girls and children with disabilities for the following reasons: first, the exclusion of women and children defeats the purpose of the convention which is to eliminate discrimination against ALL persons with disabilities; second, as other conventions specifically address women, the exclusion of a specific reference to women in the present convention suggests the convention protects men only; third, research shows women and girls with disabilities are much more vulnerable and therefore need greater protection in areas such as education, health, family rights, employment, violence and abuse; fourth, the visibility of women, girls and children with disabilities in an international instrument sends a strong signal to member parties to respect these rights. Mauritius did not support, as a matter of principle, the inclusion of the principle of nondiscrimination against women and children with disabilities in the general obligations provisions, as the needs of these groups are very specific and thus should be addressed by specific articles such as Articles 6 and 7.
The Special Rapporteur on Disability emphasized the importance of this convention in perpetuating justice, fairness, realization of rights, and the elimination of all discrimination. Because of the reality of exclusion and oppression of women which violates their dignity, limits their effectiveness in participation in public life, and deprives society of their abilities and possibilities, this convention is crucial to recognizing the aforementioned goals with respect to women with disabilities. The Special Rapporteur supported the integration of “women with disabilities” through all articles of the convention, thereby impacting human thinking, national legislation and implementation as well as the inclusion of separate articles addressing women and children With respect to children with disabilities, she emphasized their vulnerability to physical violence and sexual exploitation and addressed the need to make protective services particularly available and accessible to children with disabilities through the convention. Without such provisions, there would always be the risk that children with disabilities would not receive any protection.
UNICEF focused on two issues it deemed particularly important to children with disabilities. It proposed including specific obligations on governments through Article 16, focusing on accessible and available child protective services for children with disabilities. UNICEF emphasized the increased vulnerability of children with disabilities to violence and abuse relative to their able-bodied peers, especially given the widespread lack of social support, the limited participation opportunities for children with disabilities in their communities, the frequent isolation of families of children with disabilities, and the overall failure at all levels of most nations’ child protective services to adequately protect children with disabilities. Unless these failures, the lack of skills in detection of and dealing with abuse, and the lack of access to child protective services by children with disabilities are specifically addressed in this convention, the risk that children with disabilities will go unprotected will remain unabated. UNICEF also supported using Article 23 to empower families of children with disabilities with the knowledge and resources that are key to achieving the family rights to which all children are entitled. Children with disabilities are overly represented in state institutions where they receive less stimulation to develop their potential and are at greater risk of abuse and neglect. In some countries, parents of children with disabilities are routinely encouraged to immediately place disabled children in institutions. Often lacking the finances, resources, and information necessary to properly care for the disabled child, the are therefore left either to cope alone or to surrender the child. To protect the right of children with disabilities to experience family life, UNICEF stressed the importance of using the convention to ensure training, resources and opportunities are available to families of children with disabilities and that appropriate family-based alternative care services are available for those children whose families are unable to care for them. UNICEF supported textual amendments strengthening the capacity of families to care for their children and to protect and promote their rights and to strengthen obligations to prevent children with disabilities from being placed in institutions.
The Korean Women’s Organization, on behalf of the Women’s IDC, supported a separate article on women with disabilities and specific references in the relevant thematic articles, concentrating on equality of women and disabilities. Notwithstanding the arguments that inclusion of specific articles for women or children with disabilities could signify exclusion of other vulnerable population groups, IDC expressed its belief that gender issues are cross-cutting and require a separate article. Some have proposed a reference to women with disabilities in Article 4 but had not provided sufficient language to define how states should meet their obligations regarding women with disabilities. Article 6 highlights gender equality rights and the multiple discrimination of women and girls with disabilities. It raises the attention of governments and provides a role for ministries, departments or other authorities for women’s affairs to be included into the implementation and monitoring of the convention and for the integration of a gender perspective. It therefore proposed amending 6(1) to “State Parties recognize that women and girls with disabilities are subject to multiple discrimination and to this end shall undertake focused empowering and gender sensitive measures to ensure the full and equal enjoyment by women and girls with disabilities of all human rights and fundamental freedoms without discrimination on the basis of sex.” It recommended an additional paragraph 6(1 bis) “States Parties shall ensure that women with disabilities can exercise their reproductive rights on an equal basis with others and that exercising this right is not used to perpetuate inequality.” These rights have strong implications for the equal rights of women in all areas of life including family, education, work, healthcare, public and political rights. It also supported strengthening the language of 6(2) to identify obstacles and appropriate related measures as part of the “gender-mainstreaming strategy.” It supported using the UN definition for gender-mainstreaming, and proposed revising 6(2) to read “States Parties shall asses the implications for women and girls with disabilities of any planned action concerning the rights set out in this convention as a strategy so that women and men with disabilities benefit equally.”
The Arab Organization of Disabled People, on behalf of the Women’s IDC, supported a separate article for women to clarify to governments the specific situation of women with disabilities in developing countries. It proposed replacing in the Preamble the phrase “both within and outside the home . . . including their gender based manifestations” with the language “of all forms of discriminations and violence set forth in the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women adopted by the UN.” (http://www.unhchr.ch/huridocda/huridoca.nsf/(Symbol)/A.RES.48.104.En?Opendocument) Inclusion of this language would highlight the particular risks women and girls with disabilities face. It emphasized the need to include these gender-specific forms of violence in Article 16 as well to make them of a more legally binding character, especially given the fact that CEDAW does not specifically address these issues or provide specific protection in this area. To this end, it suggested replacing “in particular that directed to girls and women including their gender based aspects” in 16(1) with the list from the proposed language for Preamble, including “injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation including their gender based manifestations” and adding the following new sentence “Violence encompasses forced sterilization, abortion and female genital mutilation.” It emphasized the fact that women with disabilities are twice as often as women without disabilities to be victims of gender based violence, including forced sterilization, abortion and genital mutilation. It highlighted especially the importance of specifically defining forced sterilization and forced abortion as violence because of the major risks they pose to the lives of women and girls with disabilities. It also proposed replacing “within and outside the home” in 16(1) with “in the private and public sectors.” It strongly supported the wording in 23(c) “on a basis of equality with respect to gender and disability” because women with disabilities are more frequently denied fertility rights than men with disabilities in developing countries. With respect to children, it supported replacing “children” with “boys and girls” in 23(2 bis) and 23(2 ter) to ensure that no child is denied the right to family life on the basis of the interaction of gender and disability. With respect to the Common Provisions, it proposed amending the last sentence of 16(2) to read “States shall ensure that protection and prevention services are disability, gender and age sensitive on an equal basis with others” to emphasize the necessity of specific prevention and protection services for women with disabilities, and because the issues of disability and gender affect persons with disabilities at all stages of life. It supported Articles 16(3)-(5) and Article 8 of the facilitators’ text. It supported the proposal of Canada, Costa Rica, and Serbia and Montenegro to revisit article 24 on education because of its great importance to women with disabilities, especially in developing countries.
The European Women’s Lobby, on behalf of the Women’s IDC, while favoring separate articles, also supported the redrafting and strengthening of existing text to meet the specificities of the rights of women and girls with disabilities. It made specific reference to the need to impact human culture and thinking, as mentioned by the Special Rapporteur, and stressing the guiding principles of justice and fairness. It supported insertion of “forced” before “sterilization” and proposed the addition of “forced abortion” in 25(b)(bis). It questioned whether the EU’s inclusion of “where necessary” after “taking into account” in Article 33 was the correct legal approach; the gender approach has been acknowledged by all UN member states through various instruments, so the phrase “where necessary” is neither applicable nor necessary. It did not support the EU’s proposal to move the substance of Article 6 to Article 4. It supported Serbia and Montenegro’s proposed addition of “gender” to “appropriate accommodation” in Article 13 and Australia’s proposed change to Article 6, which is similar to the wording of the Women’s IDC draft available on the UN Enable site. Regarding Canada’s proposal to strengthen Article 6, the Women’s IDC hoped to work closely with delegates and facilitators to reach consensus on a strong and precise text. It supported China’s proposal to change 6(2) to reflect the text of CEDAW Article 3, but urged that the last part of the paragraph be changed to “on a basis of equality with others.” It stated that the text of 23(1)(c) does not require a specific mention of the basis of equality as it is already understood in the text. Regarding Costa Rica’s proposal to include a separate article on children but not on women, it argued that CEDAW does not specifically mention women with disabilities whereas the CRC does address children with disabilities. It supported the mention of sterilization in articles 17 and 24, and the definition of “sterilization” and “forced abortion” as part of the violence aspect. It also supported the U.S. recommendation of specific reference to women with disabilities in article 29, since participation in public and political realms is an essential basis for ensuring future rights. It strongly supported the proposals to include the gender aspect in the articles on education and employment. Literacy rates and education levels are significantly lower for women with disabilities than for men with disabilities, and specific reference to these issues is necessary to enhance the empowerment of women and girls with disabilities. It also noted that three quarters of all women with disabilities, and up to 100% in some developing countries, are excluded from the workforce. Specific mention in the employment article is necessary to ensure the rights of women with disabilities who live below the poverty line.
Project SELF emphasized the importance of consultation with children and young people, as reflected in 7(3). It noted the level of attention given at AHC sessions on the issues of violence and education with respect to children with disabilities and the fact that neither of these critical issues came to light until a dialogue with children with disabilities took place. It emphasized the need to focus on empowerment rather than overprotection. Specifically, it supported the inclusion of text clarifying that consultation, in the last sentence of 7(3), involves not only allowing access but also creating a safe and well-resourced space and facility for children with disabilities.
Save the Children, on behalf of Children’s IDC, supported the separate article for children with disabilities. It supported the EU proposal for the Preamble. It noted that, though the facilitator’s text is grounded in the CRC, that convention was developed in an era in which children were considered subjects of protection rather than subjects of rights and therefore faced overprotection and difficulties in exercising their rights. It strongly supported Article 3 regarding evolving capacities. It supported 7(1),(2) and (3) but did not support 7(4). It noted that it could also support the EU amendment to Article 7, provided that the facilitator’s specific provisions addressing rights to consultation and the assistance necessary to the fulfillment of this right are included. Regarding Article 16, it strongly supported the Special Rapporteur and UNICEF in their views on child protection. The current proposals relating to age- and gender-sensitivity are insufficient with respect to children because of inadequate protection of children within the main criminal justice system. Moreover protective legislation often takes little account of children with disabilities. It therefore emphasized the importance of specific reference to children’s protective services and the needs of children with disabilities in these provisions. It stated that provisions regarding sterilization do not adequately protect children and that the consent of children should not be overridden because the parents may consent. It also stated that the text on retention of fertility in Article 23 fails to consider the violation of the right of children to integrity and their future right to found a family in cases of childhood sterilization. Finally, it stressed as its most fundamentally important point, the need of families of children with disabilities to have adequate information and support. Families need to understand the nature of disability, its causes, how to communicate with their disabled children, their rights regarding education, recreation, etc. Children themselves assert that this is the most important intervention to end violations of their rights. Save the Children, on behalf of Children’s IDC, therefore strongly supported strongly the inclusion of both paragraphs of Article 23.
The Session was adjourned.
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