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Facilitator’s text on women and children with disabilities (continued)
The British Council for the Disabled, on behalf of IDC, focused on the historical approach of medical model thinking, whereby children are viewed strictly in the context of their impairment and thus excluded from all services and programmes used by non-disabled children. This has remained unchanged for 60 years and has led to the notion of the necessity of specialized services for children with disabilities. The IDC joined the EU, Israel, Kenya and South Africa in their support for a change to 7(4) to provide for general children’s services that are fully adapted and equally accessible to all children rather than to provide for separate, specialized services for children with disabilities. This change could be made to 7(4) as it stands independently or as incorporated in article 4. Mainstreaming services is crucial to the full integration of children with disabilities into society and to avoiding the effects of “internalized oppression.” This can be accomplished through a shift in thinking that focuses not on the “problem” in the child with a disability but on the problem of professional services that are unable to address the needs of these children. IDC emphasized that taking children out of the family, home and community should be a last resort, as institutionalization of children leads to “identity theft,” and identity is crucial to functioning in society. It reiterated the need to address the needs of families of children with disabilities and the attitude of society so that the families may care for their disabled children, valuing their differences and allowing participation through mainstream services.
People with Disabilities Australia advocated a twin-track approach to addressing the rights of women with disabilities, under which this convention and CEDAW would be structurally interlinked. It asserted that the best means of achieving such a link would be a general interpretative article. This is critical in order to highlight the increased level of discrimination experienced by women with disabilities and to ensure gender equity in the convention. In reality, instruments such as CEDAW, as well as their associated national and international measures of implementation and monitoring, do not consider the rights of women with disabilities. Therefore, these women have experienced aggravated violations of human rights such as denial of sexuality, sterilization, greater rates of institutionalization than men with disabilities, higher rates of voluntary and forced removal of children, and poor or no access to health programmes and services. They are subject to discrimination in education and employment and thus lack economic independence. Without specific reference to women with disabilities in this convention through the inclusion of a general interpretive article, this neglect will continue. People with Disability Australia also supported specific recognition of children as well as other population groups subject to multiple discrimination, such as indigenous peoples, through the inclusion of a general interpretive article.
Project South supported a specific article addressing children with disabilities as well as including references in other parts of the convention to ensure that the convention is truly inclusive. It focused on the specific problems faced by persons with disabilities living in developing countries in Latin America, stating that 16 million children with disabilities in that region live in situations of extreme poverty, abandonment and exclusion. Especially in rural areas, there is no access to information, diagnostic or rehabilitation facilities, or quality education. Moreover, children with disabilities are often purposely excluded because of their disability, and those who are included in mainstream services, such as education, suffer daily discrimination. Other examples of violations of these children’s rights abound, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), does not protect them. Therefore, Project South called for a separate article to reaffirm the rights of these children and the duty of states to provide full and early attention for them. It expressed doubt that including these issues in Article 4 only would be sufficient to convey their importance and specificity. Instead, it supported the inclusion in Article 4 of a duty of states to consult and to facilitate participation of children in issues impacting their interests. While supporting the facilitators’ text of Article 7, it emphasized the need to avoid “the best interest of children” because of the risk of arbitrary interpretation that could weaken the impact of the article. It proposed the elimination of 7(4) because undermines the paradigm shift toward autonomy, full participation, and inclusion of children with disabilities; moreover, the key concepts in the provision are addressed in other provisions of the convention. Project South called for the specific reference to children with disabilities in other articles as active subjects rather than objects of the law. It supported the facilitator’s text of Article 23, which includes the concepts of dignity of families, autonomous participation, and duty of states to promote and foster positive attitudes to ensure full inclusion of children with disabilities in the community.
El Salvador supported the inclusion of separate articles on women and children as well as specific references within other articles of the convention, but emphasized the importance of avoiding concepts or language that may be interpreted in a manner that weakens the effectiveness of the convention. Regarding the facilitator’s text on women, it proposed amending the Preamble to “the highest levels of vulnerability of women and girls, particularly those with disabilities, who are subjects of violence, multiple discrimination, injury, abuse, neglect, maltreatment and exploitation.” It proposed amending the language of 6(2) to “States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate all forms of violence and discrimination against women and girls with disabilities in order to ensure full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms.” It proposed adding “in particular women and girls with disabilities in all stages of life” after “disabilities” in 16(1), as well as deleting the last part of the sentence, beginning with “in particular.” It proposed adding “in accordance with national legislation” after “free and full consent of the intending spouses” in 23(b) and deleting the bracketed text. It suggested retaining the Chair’s language and eliminating the bracketed text in 23(c). In the chapeau to Article 25, it proposed adding “gender, age or” before “disability” and amending the second sentence to read “States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure that persons with disabilities, in particular women and girls with disabilities, have equal access with others to health services including health rehabilitation…” The general reference to age in this amendment would protect the elderly with disabilities, another group that is particularly vulnerable. It did not support 25(b bis) and referred to a proposal it had previously made to amend 25(a) of the Chair’s text to “Provide persons with disabilities in all stages of life, on an equal basis with others, quality health services.” With respect to the facilitator’s text on children, it proposed language in the Preamble similar to that suggested for the provisions regarding women: “recognizing the highest level of vulnerability of children, particularly those with disabilities, who are subject to violence, multiple discrimination, injury, abuse, neglect, maltreatment, and exploitation.” It supported obligations of States Parties similar to those in the CRC. It supported amending the language in Article 3 to read “respect for the evolving capacities of every child with disabilities as well as the principle of the best interest of the child.” It proposed amending Article 4, in the third line, to read “…shall closely consult with and actively involve, on a gender and age basis, persons with disabilities...” It proposed amending Article 7(1) to “ States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure, on an equal basis with others, full enjoyment by children with disabilities of all human rights and fundamental freedoms.” El Salvador supported the facilitators’ text of Article 7(2-4) and Article 13. It strongly supported the exact language of the facilitator’s text in Article 18, but suggested its incorporation into Article 7. It proposed amending the first line of Article 23 to read “…children with disabilities have equal rights with others with respect to family….” It supported the facilitators’ text for Article 23(2)(ter), Article 8, and Article16(2-5). It supported the chapeau to Article 31 but proposed amending 31(0) to “involve persons with disabilities, on a gender and age basis, and their organizations...” It proposed amending 31(0.1) to read “State Parties shall disaggregate all data on the basis of gender, age and disability, and ensure that the data provides information on issues that may affect them differently.” It proposed amending the end of 32(2) to “including focusing on gender, age and disability specific issues.” It proposed amending 33(3) to “States Parties shall promote the active participation of civil society, in particular persons with disabilities and their representative organizations, in the monitoring process.” It supported the facilitator’s text for Article 39. It emphasized in Article 44 the importance of consistency with the language used by the UN regarding the participation of other UN groups. Therefore, it supported replacing the language listing individual offices and agencies with “all relevant UN bodies.” It proposed a similar amendment to the last sentence of the paragraph: “The Committee may invite all relevant UN bodies to provide expert advice…” This language would be neither over-inclusive nor under-inclusive with respect to the involvement of necessary and appropriate organs and agencies.
The Chair noted that there was strong support for the facilitators’ texts on women and children and universal agreement on the importance of highlighting the risk of multiple discrimination. The Chair also noted that only those proposals that received broad support would be considered as an alternative or amendment to the facilitators’ text. He then summarized the discussion as follows:
With respect to the provisions regarding women with disabilities:
With respect to the provisions regarding children with disabilities:
With respect to the common provisions:
The Chair reiterated the need to be guided in future discussion only by those proposed amendments that draw reasonably broad support. One major remaining issue was the question of where inclusion of gender and age specific language would be appropriate in the operative provisions of the text. The Chair encouraged delegates who favored inclusion of this language in other areas of the convention to consult informally to ascertain what level of support their proposed amendments might generate if put forth in August. Finally, regarding the question of whether or not to include separate articles on women and children with disabilities, there was clear support for the twin-track approach. Many delegates favored inclusion of separate articles, while others preferred to include the general provisions on women and children in Article 4 on General Obligations. The Chair noted that most of those who preferred the latter also expressed their flexibility on the matter. There was undoubtedly clear consensus on the need to somehow address the particular problems and vulnerabilities faced by these two groups of persons with disabilities, however there was still disagreement as to the best manner in which to do so. The Chair requested delegates to come to the August meeting with a flexible position and an open mind on this structural issue to facilitate quick resolution. He stressed that this issue is a matter of structure, not an issue of substance. For the moment, the Chair noted that the most appropriate solution would be to amend Articles 6 and 7 according to the discussions just held and then to bracket the language in the text issued for consideration at the Eighth Session. He thanked the facilitator’s on women and children again for their hard work.
The Chair then moved to the discussion of the Preamble of the Chair’s text for which written proposals had been submitted by:
Kenya (http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/enable/rights/ahc7kenya.htm), Canada http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/enable/rights/ahc7canada.htm),
the Russian Federation (http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/enable/rights/ahc7russia.htm), the Philippines (http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/enable/rights/ahc7phi.htm), the EU (http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/enable/rights/ahc7contgovs.htm),
the United States (http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/enable/rights/ahc7usa.htm), Bosnia and Herzegovina (http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/enable/rights/ahc7bh.htm), and the IDC (http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/enable/rights/ahc7contngos.htm).
He specifically mentioned the proposal from the United States, dealing with family, which had drawn reasonable support overall in the discussion of Article 23, but which also evoked some question as to proper placement. The Chair noted that the US proposal to the Preamble reflected his suggestion that this particular language, reflecting the CRC, did not fit well in Article 23 and therefore might be more appropriate in the Preamble.
The United States generally supported the Preamble and the concepts therein. It agreed that its proposal on family as the fundamental unit of society in Article 23 might be better in the Preamble, and this was reflected in its written proposal. Though it supported the Chair’s text drawn from the CRC, it had consulted with others, particularly with the IDC, to develop its proposed new formulation which it viewed as stronger while still retaining the brevity. It explained that while the subject of new technologies was adequately addressed in its proposal for a new 25(g), the issue of genetic testing in its proposal for 25(e) was perhaps not strong enough and warranted additional treatment in the Preamble. It proposed adding “Recognizing the need to protect the privacy of persons with disabilities subject to genetic testing, and bearing in mind regard to ethical principles embodied in the UNESCO International Declaration on Human Genetic Data …” It noted that while its proposal for a new 25(e) was based on language in the UNESCO Declaration, it was rather long and had been submitted late in the process. Therefore, the US hoped that the proposal for the Preamble would capture the same ideas and generate support. It emphasized that the issue of the use of genetic data in a discriminatory fashion is a problem in today’s world, specifically in areas such as insurance, health care, employment and education and that this issue, which will only become more prevalent in the future, should be addressed within this convention. It suggested changing “reaffirming” to “recalling” in Preamble (d) in order to resolve any concerns of countries that are not a party to the other human rights conventions listed in the article. Regarding the EU proposals, it supported replacing “especially” with “including” in (l) but objected to adding “sexual orientation” after “birth” in (m).
Bosnia and Herzegovina proposed adding “and reaffirming that in such situations parties to armed conflict must abide by their obligations under international humanitarian law” at the end of (p), noting that it is imperative to include this language because the current text does not include a reference to the legal framework that governs state actions in this context,.
Austria, on behalf of the EU, did not support the US proposal regarding family because it did not see its relevance in a human rights convention. It supported the US proposal to replace “reaffirming” with “recalling” in (d). For the sake of consistency, the EU suggested using “recognizing” throughout the convention and requested that the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) provide guidance on the subject.
The Chair agreed that the issue of consistency was important and stated that he would consult with the OCHCR.
Serbia and Montenegro strongly supported the text of the Preamble with a few additions. It supported the EU suggestion to replace “especially” with “including” in (l). It supported Bosnia and Herzegovina’s revision in (p) and the US on the issue of supporting families. It reiterated its position from previous discussions on preambular proposals on women and children. It reserved judgment on other proposals.
Canada suggested that (d) could be modeled after CEDAW Preamble (3), but also noted support for replacing “reaffirming” with “recalling.” It supported the IDC proposal in (e) relating to a reference to the World Programme of Action Concerning Disabled Persons. It proposed replacing “demand” with “require” in the IDC’s proposed g (bis). Also regarding g (bis), Canada supported the principle in the proposal but was not certain that it required a separate paragraph. It was open to ideas about where to include the addition. It reviewed its written proposal to (j). It supported the EU proposals for (l) and (m) and proposed adding “age” to (m) as well. It did not support the proposal by Bosnia and Herzegovina for (p). It did not currently support the US proposal regarding family but would consider the issue in preparation for August. It did not support the US proposal on genetic material because it was not convinced that its inclusion is necessary.
Qatar proposed adding a reference to international humanitarian law in (d). It supported the retention of “reaffirming” in (d) and did not support making any change to (m).
Croatia supported the proposed addition to (p) made by Bosnia and Herzegovina, noting its experiences during the recent conflict in its country in which persons with muscular dystrophy were evacuated only after intervention by European Association of Persons with Muscular Dystrophy. The Convention must recognize that the obligations of states under international humanitarian law in time of armed conflict extend to persons with disabilities.
The Russian Federation supported elements in (a) that refer to inherent dignity and inalienable rights, and the language linking it to the aims and principles of UN charter. It referred to its written proposal for q (bis), noting that it was based on the discussion that occurred in the context of Article 4. It was flexible on the US proposal regarding family, noting its support for the emphasis of the fundamental role of the family. It was flexible on the US proposal on genetic testing, stating that the issue could be of great importance in the near future. However, it proposed adding “inter alia” after “ethical principle embodied,” so that other documents in addition to the UNESCO Declaration might be considered as well. It supported the Philippines’ proposal on f (bis) referring to the World Programme of Action. It noted that because the Standard Rules mentioned in (e) are closely related to the World Programme of Action, the Philippines’ proposal should be considered in formulating (e). It supported the EU proposal for (l), but it did not support the proposed amendment to (m) because “sexual orientation” is already covered by “or other status.” It supported the inclusion of language regarding women and children in the preamble and was flexible on the wording, though it stated that the facilitator’s text should form the foundation of the text. It supported replacing “reaffirming” with “recalling” in (d). It proposed deleting “also” after “recognizing” in (f). It noted that the concept of diversity in (g) is one of the fundamental principles in the Convention; it therefore supported using the broader language of 3(d), which relates to disability as an element of human diversity. It supported the Canadian proposal to replace “their societies” with “society” in (j). It also supported the proposal made regarding the first part of (j), but noted that the entire formulation merits further discussion.
Trinidad and Tobago supported the IDC proposal to include a reference to the World Programme of Action in (e). It supported the deletion of “their societies” in (j). It supported a reference to “age” in (m) as an important factor of discrimination, especially for children and the elderly. It supported the replacement of “especially” with “including” in (l).
Japan supported the text of the Preamble with a few exceptions. It proposed streamlining (d), noting the concerns expressed by other delegates and the fact that all international human rights instruments apply equally to persons with disabilities and therefore do not need to be enumerated. It nonetheless supported IDC’s proposal to add a World Programme of Action reference. It therefore proposed merging (d) and (e) as follows: “Considering that all international human rights agreements and instruments are applicable equally to persons with disabilities, including the UN Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities and the World Programme of Action Concerning Disabled Persons,” It supported EU proposals for (l) and (m). It was flexible regarding the US proposal regarding family but it preferred the Chair’s text because the US proposal does not specifically mention the involvement of persons with disabilities in decision-making. It did not support the US proposal on genetic testing. It noted that, while the UNESCO Declaration was approved by consensus, there were a variety of debates on this sensitive issue. The issue of genetic data, in contrast to overall data protection, is too specific to be included in the Preamble.
Yemen supported the deletion of the word “and” in (a) because “each paragraph should be an autonomous one.” It proposed in (p) to add “foreign occupation” after “armed conflict” because “armed conflict” does not necessarily cover occupation and its consequences. It supported Canada’s proposal for (j) regarding society because it underlines the position and ability of persons with disabilities to participate in society. It noted flexibility on the US proposal regarding family, including its specific language and whether it should be included solely in the preamble or in other articles as well, but stated that a reference to family should be included somewhere because it is the “fulcrum” of the objectives of the Convention. It emphasized that persons with disabilities should be able to live in an independent family environment—an environment that is essential to upbringing, education and participation in society.
The Philippines referred to its written proposal, which includes a new proposed paragraph f (bis) on the World Programme of Action. It is important to acknowledge the contribution of the that document as the first international instrument to depart from the traditional approach to disability and to address the realities facing persons with disabilities, the majority of whom live in developing countries. Moreover, the General Assembly adopted the World Programme of Action by consensus so this would be a reaffirmation of its relevance and importance. The Philippines explained that its written proposal to (o) was an effort to strengthen the existing language regarding the prevalence and effects of poverty on PWD. It supported the US proposal on family.
The Islamic Republic of Iran supported the proposal to include the World Programme of Action in (e). It strongly supported the US proposal on family, emphasizing the role of families as the fundamental unit of support for PWD in society, especially in developing countries. It supported the EU proposal for (l) but not (m). It supported the proposal by Bosnia and Herzegovina to reference international humanitarian law, but suggested that it would be more appropriate to include it in (d) rather than (p). It propose adding “and the fact that armed conflicts, in addition to natural disasters, have considerably increased the level of disabilities in war stricken and disaster prone countries” after “human rights of persons with disabilities” in (p). This language would encompass more of the major elements that give rise to an increased level of disability, an issue it deemed important in the context of the convention.
Austria, on behalf of the EU, did not support the US proposal on genetic testing, stating that it is dangerous to link the rights of PWD to the issue of genetic testing. It objected to the inclusion of controversial language from a nonbinding UNESCO declaration in a binding Convention. It did not support the Philippines’ proposal regarding the World Programme of Action because the Convention itself goes further than the that instrument and should not be limited by it.
The Holy See supported the inclusion of the US proposal on family and its proposal regarding genetic testing, which draws attention to the fundamental principle of privacy and acknowledges that these issues must be addressed in an ethical manner. It noted in (k) that the phrase “including freedom to make their own choices” is redundant. It did not support the EU proposal for (m), and also questioned the value of the entire list in (m). It proposed substituting “denial” for “violation” in (f).
Pakistan supported the text proposed by the Islamic Republic of Iran for (p) and the US proposal on family. It did not support the EU proposal of adding “sexual orientation” in (m). It otherwise generally supported the Chair’s text.
Kenya strongly supported the proposal to add the reference World Programme of Action to (e). It supported including “age” in (m) as a basis for discrimination. It proposed adding “cultural” after “social” in (q) because participation in culture is critical, as is the accessibility of cultural environments. It supported the US proposal on family but did not support the US proposal on genetic testing. It proposed adding a reference to women and children to the Preamble
Brazil supported the inclusion of paragraphs on women and children. It supported substituting “reaffirming” with “recalling” in (d). It supported a reference to the World Programme of Action in (e). It supported the addition of “sexual orientation,” “age,” and “ethnicity” to (m). It supported Kenya’s proposal regarding culture in (q) and the Philippines’ proposal for strengthening (o). It did not support the US proposal on genetic testing. It supported the IDC proposal to include g (bis), which recognizes the need to promote and protect the human rights of all PWD, including those who require more intensive support.
Mexico proposed using language in (m) that is consistent with CEDAW, particularly Article 1. It supported the Chair’s text in (d) as drafted. It supported the recognition of international cooperation in (i), which provides an adequate framework for the convention. It supported the Philippines’ proposal for f (bis) on the World Programme of Action, noting that it would help to ensure follow-up.
The Republic of Korea supported replacing “reaffirming” with “recalling” in (d). It supported adding “age” and “ethnicity” to (m). It supported including cultural environments in (q) even though there is a specific article addressing this in the Convention. It did not support the US proposal on genetic testing because the issue is too controversial. It stated that the UNESCO declaration is too specific to include in the Preamble.
China supported the proposal to add the World Programme of Action to (e) and suggested it should be inserted before the reference to the Standard Rules. It supported the Philippines’ proposal for (o) concerning poverty reduction, noting its importance in realizing the objectives of the Millennium Development Goals. It proposed amending (r) to “Convinced that a comprehensive and integral convention on the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities….” It explained that this amendment is necessary to bring the language of the provision in line with the express purpose of the Convention and the mandate given to the AHC in the GA resolution 56/168, which states in (I) that “this convention is one concerning the promotion and protection of rights of persons with disabilities as well as their dignity. It is a comprehensive and integral convention.” China noted also that “rights” encompasses and is a broader concept than “human rights” and would therefore guarantee protection of a greater number of rights of persons with disabilities.
The morning session was adjourned.
Indonesia proposed adding “interrelatedness” after “interdependence” in (c), to be consistent with the Vienna Declaration and the World Programme of Action. It supported the proposal of the Philippines for f (bis). It did not object to the Russian Federation’s proposal for q (bis), however since the rational for that proposal is the acknowledgement of participation of stakeholders in implementation, the language should mirror that of the ICCPR Preamble, paragraph 5. It supported Kenya’s idea to include culture, but proposed a reorganization of the language to reflect the standard formulation “economic, social and cultural.” It supported (m) as written. It supported the Islamic Republic of Iran’s proposal to include the subject of natural disasters in (p), but cautioned against confusing that situation with that of armed conflict.
The Syrian Arab Republic supported in retaining “reaffirming” in (d) and Qatar’s addition of a reference to international humanitarian law. It supported Japan’s proposal to merge (d) and (e). It supported the EU proposal to add to the end of (g) “to combat poverty.” It supported adding “on an equal basis with other in (k) and the text of (l) and (m) as written. It supported the Philippines’ proposal for (o). It supported the proposal of Yemen in (p) to add “and foreign occupation of others’ territory.” It proposed adding “health, education, and culture” after “social and economic” in (q). It supported the US proposal regard genetic testing.
Morocco supported the Chair’s text. It supported maintaining “reaffirming” and adding a reference to international humanitarian law in (d) and the text of (m) as written. It supported Kenya’s addition of the cultural environment and the Syrian Arab Republic’s addition of “education and health” in (q). It supported the US proposal related to family.
India supported the Chair’s text of the Preamble. It did not support the reference to the Convention on the Rights of Migrant Workers and their Families in (d) and proposed including a general reference to covenants and conventions instead of the list. It supported the language of the US regarding family but did not support its proposal regarding genetic testing, which it stated does not belong in a legally binding instrument. It supported the Philippines’ proposal to strengthen (o), but noted that it could be further improved.
Israel supported the proposals to include a reference to the World Programme of Action in (e) and the proposal of Canada and the IDC for a new g (bis), which would help to target resources where they are most needed. It supported the EU proposal to replace “especially” with “including” in (l). It supported adding “age” in (m) and proposed replacing “sex” with “gender” to be more consistent with the rest of the text. In (q), Israel supported adding “cultural,” to harmonize the language with the rest of the convention and the ICESCR. It strongly supported the proposal of the US in relation to family and would consider its proposal regarding genetic testing.
Costa Rica strongly supported the Philippines’ proposal to strengthen (o), noting that most PWD live below the poverty line and that this issue was not adequately addressed in the text. It supported the US proposal regarding family, noting that because most PWD live in poverty, they are dependent on family for the majority of support and assistance. It agreed with Brazil’s suggestion to change “race” to “ethnicity,” but would be flexible on this point. It supported the US approach regarding genetic testing.
Namibia supported the reference to the World Programme of Action in (e), which would pave the way for the development of programmes and policies. It supported the EU proposal to (l) and the amendment of (o) put forth by the Philippines. It supported adding the concept of culture in (q). Regarding (m), it did not support the EU proposal but did support the proposal of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Uganda supported replacing “reaffirming” with “recalling” and adding a reference to international humanitarian law in (d) and the Philippines’ proposed language regarding the World Programme of Action. It supported the EU proposal for (l) and also replacing “their societies” with “society.” It supported adding a reference to age in (m), Kenya’s proposal to include cultural environments (q), and the US proposal regarding family. It suggested that (p) include other situations such natural disasters in the treatment of situations of risk. It supported China’s proposal to (r), noting the importance of referring to the dignity of persons with disabilities, especially since this concept has been eliminated from the title of the convention. Uganda stated that it would need more time to consider the proposal regarding genetic testing.
Jordan: suggested that the drafting committee re-examine the substantive order of the preambular paragraphs as well as the language at the beginning of each paragraph. It suggested adding a paragraph on women and children and proposed amending (n) to read “gender and age appropriate perspectives.” Jordan suggested adding “and their representative organizations” after “persons with disabilities” in (l); and retaining (m) as written. It supported adding a reference to the World Programme of Action in (e) and the US proposals on family and genetic testing. It agreed with Bosnia and Herzegovina’s suggestion regarding (p), as well as adding the concept of natural disasters to this paragraph.
Kenya stated that the EU proposal to (m) could me misinterpreted and that it could not support or consider including the idea of sexual orientation. It fully supported the Philippines’ proposal to strengthen (o).
South Africa supported the Philippines’ proposal for (o). While it supported the US proposal regarding family, it noted that it would look at the language in the CRC and return with a text.
Nigeria: supported the EU formulation of (m) regarding gender but not with respect to sexual orientation. It supported the proposals by the Philippines for f (bis) and the strengthening of (o). It supported China’s proposal to (r), noting the importance of the reference to dignity that has been eliminated from the title.
United States expressed some concern regarding the proposal by Bosnia and Herzegovina regarding the obligations of states in times of armed conflict. It would need to study the interface with international humanitarian law and carefully consider its placement in the text. The US supported the effort by Japan to streamline (d).
Japan: joined the US in reserving position with regard to international humanitarian law.
NHRI noted that it had previously expressed support for including some language on genetics and human rights in the convention. After unpacking the range of issues related to this topic in the context of disability, the issue of the conditions under which genetic materials may be obtained emerged as a critical subject. The US text may provide for a broader application of genetic testing than presently occurs by the use of the phrase “subject to genetic testing.” There seems to be an implicit dividing line in the text between those who are legitimately subject to genetic testing and those who are not, giving rise to a deeper question of subjecting anyone to such testing without proper consent. NHRI noted that the US text does not touch expressly on this point, however it should be considered if the subject of genetics is included in the Preamble. The US text also does not refer to the dangers associated with genetic modification or interference. NHRI supported the intent behind the language in the US text regarding the potential use or abuse of information derived from genetic testing, but noted that it deserves further study based on the serious violations that may occur given the ability to predict predisposition to disability. Voluntary ethical guidelines in this area are not sufficient to protect society from the harm that could result from abuse of this technology. This convention must include a clear legal steer regarding the need for strengthening and reform in this area of law. NHRI referred to Chapter 4 of the Council of Europe Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine, which contains well-crafted norms prohibiting misuse of genetic information. NHRI proposed the following language: “Conscious that the misuse of genetic information may lead to act endangering the rights of persons with disabilities…” NHRI supported the insistence of IDC to referring to “all persons with disabilities.” It noted that this represents an effort to express solidarity among persons with disabilities. It supported the inclusion of this concept in the Preamble and proposed borrowing language from the Vienna Declaration, paragraph 5, which addresses this issue in the context of the duty of the state to afford protection and promotion of the rights of all persons.
The IDC supported including separate preambular paragraphs on women and children. It supported the US proposal with regard to family, but would be flexible in terms of wording and willing to continue to work with delegations to arrive at language that could be widely accepted. It proposed adding a reference to indigenous persons in (m) and supported proposals to add ethnicity and age. It proposed expanding (p), as reflected in its written proposal. It supported a reference to international humanitarian law in (p) and (d) and was pleased at the support for the IDC’s suggested reference to the World Programme of Action in (e) and the proposal for g (bis). It supported Canada’s proposal to (j). IDC reviewed its written proposal for (n), (q) and a new (s).
The Chair summarized the discussion of the Preamble as follows:
China noted that the Chair’s summary of its proposal to (r) had addressed only the addition of “and dignity,” and had not included the remainder of its proposal, which China perceived to have been supported by many delegations. The Chair clarified that he had stated in his summary that there was a proposal to make (r) more consistent with the GA resolution and that there was particular support for adding the concept of dignity. However, he did not recall delegations taking up the other specifics of China’s proposal. Nonetheless, he had acknowledged that the other elements might assist in achieving greater consistency with the GA resolution and should be carefully considered. Once again, the addition of dignity was only element that he remembered being specifically and widely supported in discussion.
Article 32 - International Cooperation
The Chair stated that much time and effort had been dedicated to searching for consensus on this issue. Past discussions had revealed that this is an important subject for all delegations, but just how to deal with it has been a difficult question to resolve. He thanked the facilitator on international cooperation who had worked tirelessly with delegations to arrive at a proposed text (http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/enable/rights/ahc7docs/ahc7faintcooprev2.doc).
The facilitator stated that the proposed text was the result of broad and far ranging discussions. It seeks to recognize the importance of international cooperation and the commitment of states to take certain measures. It then elaborates the measures that should be taken. Footnotes were used to indicate those issues that are yet to be resolved. The facilitator noted especially the proposed language in paragraph 2, recognizing the need to find a way to communicate that international cooperation should be undertaken in addition to, not in substitution of, national implementation efforts. The proposed language attempts to do this, however there were a number of other ideas proposed that should be considered. The facilitator thanked the working group participants who approached the process with a spirit of flexibility and cooperation.
Islamic Republic of Iran proposed replacing in the second line of paragraph 1 the words “realization of the purpose and objectives of…” with “implementation of the provisions of…” It proposed deleting “could” in the last line of paragraph 1, noting that the concept is already covered by the words “inter alia.” It stressed the need for consistent language. Throughout the convention, efforts have been made to include strong language and this should not be lost in the article on international cooperation. Therefore, the Islamic Republic of Iran proposed deleting “as appropriate” in 1(d). It did not support the language of paragraph 2, stating that “irrespective of international cooperation” has a negative tone and that the paragraph seems contradictory of paragraph 1. Clearly, all States Parties have an obligation to undertake national efforts, however this should not require weakening the language regarding the importance of international cooperation, which is essential to compliment national efforts.
China referred to its statement of previous day in which it had referred to “able-bodied children” “children with disabilities” and “children without disabilities,” The speaker apologized for her lack of clarity which resulted in the translation of “able-bodied children” as “normal children.” Regarding international cooperation, China stressed its important role in capacity building of countries to be able to implement the convention. It supported an action-orientated approach of the text. It generally supported paragraph 1, but agreed with the Islamic Republic of Iran’s suggestion to delete “could” and “as appropriate.” It also agreed with that delegation’s concern that “irrespective of international cooperation is negative and contradicts paragraph 1. This undermines the importance of international cooperation and breaks the link between the two paragraphs. China proposed that paragraph 2 be amended to read “States Parties recognize further that while international cooperation plays a supplementary or supporting role, each States Party undertakes to fulfill its obligation under the present convention.” This formulation clearly places the obligation on states to implement the convention while not undermining the importance of international cooperation.
Brazil strongly supported an article on international cooperation and stated that the facilitator’s text captures the main points that need to be featured. It stressed that all international cooperation should be channeled toward inclusive projects. Development aid must never lead to the creation of new barriers. There is no point in building anything that will need to be rebuilt or adapted in order to make it accessible. While donor countries want to make sure that their aid does this, the promotion of the concept of inclusive development also serves as an incentive for countries wishing to benefit from international cooperation programmes – to implement more rapidly the accessibility standards represented in the convention. Regarding paragraph 2, the idea that international cooperation is a supportive element that does not replace national efforts seems obvious and it seems unnecessary to state it explicitly. However, if this is important to other delegations, Brazil would be flexible regarding its inclusion.
Israel stated that international cooperation has the potential to make significant contribution to the implementation of this convention. It proposed adding “training programmes” after “experiences” in 1(b). Training is a key concept to familiarize society at large regarding disability issues and thus disability must be featured as a subject in education curricula.
The Russian Federation supported the facilitator’s draft, however it agreed that the language in paragraph 2 is not consistent with paragraph 1 and should be reformulated in a more positive tone. It therefore supported Chinas proposal for paragraph 2. Paragraph 1 reflects an important set of elements, especially the philosophy that international cooperation should not be restricted to north/south relationships. The value of the article is that it creates a framework for variety of interactions. The Russian Federation expressed flexibility regarding deleting “could” and “as appropriate,” noting that the list of measures in an indicative list, not an exhaustive one.
Morocco supported the facilitator’s text and associated itself with Nigeria on behalf of African Group.
Nigeria, on behalf of African Group, stated that the African Group has supported a separate article on international cooperation, with the understanding that the primary responsibility for implementation lies with states but that international cooperation is needed to support these national efforts. As such, the African Group fully supported paragraph 1, with the deletion of “as appropriate.” However, the current text of paragraph 2 contravenes the spirit of paragraph 1 and therefore it supported China’s proposal to amend paragraph 2..
South Africa supported the intervention of the African Group and China’s proposal for paragraph 2.
Indonesia supported the facilitator’s text of 1(a)(b) and (c), but supported deleting “as appropriate” 1(d). Regarding paragraph 2, it was well aware of States Parties’ responsibilities regarding implementation and also that many provisions are subject to progressive implementation. Therefore, Indonesia did not support paragraph 2 as written, but proposed a much stronger and clearer formulation regarding States Parties’ commitments to fulfilling their obligations under international cooperation.
India recognized the importance of international cooperation and stated that the text of paragraph 1 needs to be strengthened. It proposed adding a reference in 1(a) to the fact that international cooperation programmes must be inclusive of PWD and their programmes should be focused on accessible results. India also cautioned against language attaching preconditions to technical and economic assistance. Language such as “as appropriate” weakens the text and may create delays in providing needed assistance and should be deleted from 1(d). It supported China’s proposal for paragraph 2.
Austria, on behalf of the EU, noted that are problems that remain in the facilitator’s text and had some additional points to add to those already flagged by the facilitator. The EU represents the largest donor in development cooperation. It stressed the need for language that will engage states in international cooperation to promote the objectives of the convention, but also to make it clear that this cooperation should not be restricted to north/south cooperation. Furthermore, it is critical to ensure that civil society is included as a partner in international cooperation. Similar to its views on women and children, the EU believed that international cooperation should not be addressed in a separate article, but included as a paragraph in Article 4. It reminded the committee that there was already agreed-upon language for this in Article 4. Though it was willing to discuss the separate article, the language would have to be exactly right in order for the EU to accept it. The EU was concerned about the difference of opinion between those who assert that States Parties are responsible for fulfilling their obligations through national implementation measures and others that seem to state that they cannot fulfill their obligations under the convention in the absence of international cooperation. In the latter situation, the EU wondered which obligations those states believed they lacked the capacity to fulfill independently and why these delegations did not oppose including those obligations in the convention. The EU stated that this is a human rights convention, but also largely a nondiscrimination convention containing rights that already exist under international law, but which have not been implemented with respect to PWD. It therefore did not understand why some delegations were opposing language regarding these rights, especially since most of the language had been generally supported during the previous meeting and is reflected its agreed form in the Chair’s text for this session. The EU supported returning to the text agreed at the previous session, which clarifies that the provisions on international cooperation do not permit derogation from the obligations of States Parties under the convention and that international cooperation cannot be an excuse for states to avoid immediate implementation of these established rights. If the Chair’s text, which covers this concern, is not accepted, then other language that is equally clear regarding these concepts must be found. The EU did support most of paragraph 1 of the facilitator’s text. It suggested retaining “as appropriate” in 1(d). It expressed concern about the reference to international development programmes, which it interpreted as focusing strictly on north/south relationships instead of encompassing the full range of components of international cooperation.
The Chair stated that there did not seem to be a substantive divergence of views. As the EU pointed out, this is human rights convention and a nondiscrimination convention and States Parties must fulfill their obligations under it. International cooperation does not permit derogation from those obligations. However, in addition to being a human rights convention, it is also a social framework for assisting PWD to operate more effectively in society through adjustments that society must make. It seems natural that international cooperation would have a large role to play in this regard. If states are having economic difficulty in providing accessibility and making the necessary adaptations, the degree to which they receive development assistance will affect their ability to implement the convention. The concepts of non-derogation of obligations on the one hand, and the value of international cooperation on the other, are not opposite viewpoints, but simply two associated notions that must be bridged by finding language that reflects both.
Yemen stated that, as one of first to raise the issue of international cooperation, it was satisfied to see the results achieved thus far and believed that a solution would soon be found so that this subject would become an integral part of the convention. International cooperation should be all-encompassing and is essentially an interaction between states with the knowledge and resources to provide the accommodation and assistance needed and those states that require more help, information and resources to do this. Yemen supported the Islamic Republic of Iran’s observations. It reiterated its position that the text should include a transparent and explicit reference to the need to provide financial means to developing countries and to civil society groups active in developing countries. The current text is not clear enough in this regard. Yemen asserted that the text should call for the donation of a percentage of the profits from the sale of arms to helping PWD, since these weapons are responsible for so many disabilities. It also stressed the need for a specific reference to donors.
Serbia and Montenegro was flexible regarding a separate article versus inclusion in Article 4. It supported paragraph 1, including the retention of “could,” since international cooperation is voluntary and this language is adequately flexible. It supported retaining “international development programmes” in 1(a), noting its own experience receiving this valuable aid. It supported retaining “as appropriate” in 1(d). It was concerned about the language in paragraph 2, though it supported its intent. Though it appreciated China’s proposal, it agreed with the EU that the text resulting from the previous session represented the best formulation for this concept.
The United States was inclined to agree with the Chair’s viewpoint regarding the need for flexibility in international cooperation and agreed with Brazil that the facilitator’s text contains the critical elements. It pointed to the many US initiatives focused on accessible international development, including USAID’s newly adopted guidelines for accessibility. It supported Israel’s proposal to add a reference to training programmes. It did not support deleting “as appropriate,” which it viewed as reflective of the need for assistance to conform to the specific situation. The US proposed adding a reference to the need for mutual agreement in the transfer of technologies, which relates to intellectual property. The US expressed its flexibility with respect to paragraph 2 and noted that the disagreement appeared to relate to wording, not to substance.
Uganda echoed the African Group’s intervention. It stated that international cooperation has played an important role in Uganda in complimenting national efforts to promote the rights of PWD. It agreed that the disagreement is related to wording and not to the general concepts. Uganda supported the language of paragraph 1 but would support the Islamic Republic of Iran’s proposal as it contains the same principles. It supported the formulation of 1(a) and recognized that international cooperation efforts have been directed toward civil society. In this regard, Uganda asserted that international cooperation and international development should also be directed to states themselves. It proposed revising 1(b) to read “Facilitating and supporting capacity-building, training, and exchange and …” This would eliminate the idea that “exchange” is necessarily related to capacity building in all cases. Uganda supported 1(c) as written. It supported deleting “as appropriate” in 1(d), asserting that international cooperation is a negotiated exercise and is thus done when appropriate according to the negotiating parties. However, it proposed adding “through the transfer of appropriate technologies.” Uganda supported the idea behind China’s proposal but proposed the language “States Parties further recognize that international cooperation plays a supportive role, each State Party undertakes to initiate additional measures to fulfill its obligations under the present convention.”
Norway supported a separate article but noted that it had not had the opportunity to discuss the facilitator’s text with its capitol and thus could not offer final approval. Norway recognized the primacy of national efforts in fulfilling the obligations of the convention and that international cooperation should not undermine this. It supported China’s proposal for paragraph 2 and the changes to it proposed by Uganda. It was pleased that the text stresses the importance of the role of civil society. .
Kenya support the facilitator’s text in principle. It clarified that the text does not set a new precedent to include PWD in international cooperation. This has been done in the women’s movement, the environmental movement and the children’s movement. In our globalized and interdependent world, international cooperation cannot be achieve without PWD. New development aid should not create a new regime of backdoor discrimination and exclusion by not including PWD. PWD have been included in every other aspect of the convention and it must be done in this article as well, using strong language. In paragraph 1, “could include” should be changed to “shall include.” In 1(a), “humanitarian aid and emergency programmes” should be added after “development programmes,” as suggested by the IDC. Kenya supported Israel’s proposal regarding training programmes and Uganda’s proposal regarding the transfer of appropriate technologies. It was flexible regarding the proposal from China and others to balance the language in paragraph 2. Finally, Kenya stressed that international cooperation is not restricted to north/south relationships and the text must not be constructed to imply that the south is dependent on the north. It must include relationships in all directions.
Jamaica concurred with the Chair that there is substantive agreement on this subject. It did not agree with the EU comment that this text tends to imply a restriction of international cooperation to north/south programmes. Jamaica noted that its own region had already begun a process of international cooperation within the region, representing south/south cooperation. Jamaica asserted that the language of paragraph 1 clearly indicates that international cooperation should be in the context of supporting national efforts, not weakening states’ national implementation obligations. As such, it did not see the need for paragraph 2, but expressed its flexibility regarding its inclusion and the wording. It might support China’s proposal, with some editorial changes. Otherwise, it proposed considering the language contained in the Chair’s letter to the committee. It supported the Islamic Republic of Iran’s proposal to replace “realization of the purpose and objectives of…” with “implementation of the provisions of…” in paragraph 1. It supported Israel’s proposal to include training and would consider the proposal to add a reference to humanitarian aid. Jamaica supported a separate article on international cooperation, noting that it is entered into on a voluntary basis and thus it does not make sense to include it in the general obligations which represent cross-cutting elements of general applicability.
Namibia recalled the experience of its government, which borrowed Braille ballots from Ghana to ensure that blind persons could vote. This represents south/south cooperation. Namibia supported the EU position that measures must begin with national governments and further noted that if governments fail to make good faith efforts within their own budgets and programmes to implement the convention, it is unlikely that donor countries would select them to receive development assistance. It supported the deletion of “could” and the retention of “inter alia” in paragraph 1. It supported Kenya’s addition of “humanitarian aid and emergency programmes” in 1(a) and the formulation proposed by Uganda in 1(b). It supported 1(c) as written and deleting “as appropriate” in 1(d). Regarding paragraph 2, it preferred its deletion but would support China’s proposal, which may bridge the gap between divergent views.
The meeting was adjourned.
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