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Session of the Ad Hoc Committee
Summaries of the Seventh Session
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The Chair, Ambassador Don MacKay of New Zealand, opened the seventh session of the UN Ad Hoc Committee on a Comprehensive and Integral Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities. The Chair announced the nomination of Petra Dolakova from Czech Republic, who was endorsed by the Eastern European Group to replace Ivana Grollovà from the Czech Republic as the Vice Chair of the committee. Ms. Dolakova was confirmed without objection. The agenda (A/AC.265/2006/L.1) and organization of work (A/AC.265/2006/L.2) were adopted. The Chair asked if there were objections to the participation of civil society and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in conformity with the policy adopted at the fourth session and found none.
The Chair stressed that the committee had three weeks to complete the reading of the working text, which limits the discussion on each article to two hours. He intended to use one and a half hours for informal session for interventions from government delegations and the remaining half hour in formal session for civil society interventions. In light of the time constraint, the Chair stressed that delegates should focus their interventions on specific language and avoid proposing extensive amounts of new language. He requested that delegates electronically submit any proposed changes in advance and added that the detailed language will be resolved by a drafting committee.
The Chair announced that he would be providing a rolling text, with revised articles being issued as the meeting progresses, however he would not be providing the Chairman’s Annex as done in the past. He recognized the importance of using facilitators and asked the facilitators on Women and Children and on International Cooperation to continue their work. He hoped to limit the additional use of facilitators and encouraged delegations to meet informally to resolve issues. The Chair also stated that any proposals that do not draw quick consensus would have to be foregone in order to move forward. He stressed the importance of not prolonging the completion and adoption of the convention.
El Salvador enquired about the status its proposal, made during the sixth session, to include in the text the special situation of elderly persons with disabilities (PWD) and of women and children. The Chair responded that the issue of the elderly had been incorporated into the text and that States should raise issues regarding specific groups during the Committee’s discussion of the relevant articles.
Costa Rica expressed its concern about the detention at Miami airport, and subsequent denial of entry into the United States, of Mr. Luis Fernandez Astorga, an NGO delegate from Costa Rica. The delegate also expressed Costa Rica’s deepest sympathies for the Canadian mission on the recent loss of Canadian Ambassador Glenn Barry who was killed in an attack in Afghanistan.
The Chair acknowledged the significant contributions of Mr. Astorga, who had
been present at the previous Ad Hoc Committee meetings and noted that his presence
would be missed at the session. He also expressed his sympathies regarding
the death of the Canadian Ambassador.
Article 5 - Equality and non-discrimination
The Chair informed the committee that written proposals to Article 5 had been submitted in advance by the European Union (EU) (http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/enable/rights/ahc7eu.htm), Israel (http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/enable/rights/ahc7israel.htm), and the International Disability Caucus (IDC) (http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/enable/rights/ahc7docs/ahc7idcchairamend1.doc).
He reviewed the proposals briefly and opened the floor for discussion.
Austria, on behalf of the EU, expressed its support for the content of Article 5 and confirmed that its proposals were an effort to streamline and clarify the article. It noted that the EU’s proposed change to 5(4) was intended to qualify “measures” without using “special” which is objectionable to NGOs, or “positive” which creates concern for some government delegations. Therefore it suggested the word “specific.” Austria stated that the EU had proposed changing the phrase “discrimination on the basis of disability” to “discriminatory” in 5(4) because it believed that provision should cover all forms of discrimination.
Kenya stated that this article is general in nature but that this is not evident from 5(3). It proposed adding the phrase “so that persons with disabilities may exercise all human rights and fundamental freedoms on an equal basis with others” to 5(3). The effect of this is to go further than simply stating a need to provide reasonable accommodation by framing reasonable accommodation within the context of equality and the elimination/prevention of discrimination.
China supported the EU’s amendments to 5(2). It also agreed with the need to clarify 5(3) and proposed text that would frame reasonable accommodation within the context of equality and the elimination/prevention of discrimination.
India expressed general support for Article 5 and agreed with deleting the second sentence in 5(2), but asked for clarification regarding the meaning of discrimination “on any other grounds.” The delegate pointed out that most state constitutions prohibit discrimination on other grounds. The Chair responded that India’s concern was covered by the phrase “equal and effective equal protection” in 5(2). Essentially, the objective of this article is to ensure that people with disabilities are treated on an equal basis as others.
Australia expressed its support for the Chair’s version of Article 5. The delegate pointed out that Israel’s proposal to 5(3) for states to promote, as well as take appropriate steps, to ensure reasonable accommodation expands it into the realm of fundamental human rights and creates a substantial burden in ensuring it. If it is framed as a fundamental human right, then requiring states only to “take appropriate steps” is a move backwards from the current position under international law. Australia also asserted that further discussion is necessary regarding the EU’s proposal to add the word “specific” and to substitute “discriminatory” for “on the basis of disability” in 5(4). The latter change may provide an opportunity to discriminate on other grounds under the guise of a positive measure.
Canada echoed China’s views on 5(3) and supported the EU’s proposed changes to 5(2) and 5(4). It further suggested changing in 5(2) “any discrimination” to “all discrimination” and “any other grounds” to “all other grounds.”
Serbia and Montenegro supported the EU’s proposed changes regarding 5(2) and 5(4). It expressed interest in Israel and Kenya’s proposals but also noted Australia’s reservations. Regarding the IDC’s proposal to 5(4) to add the phrase, “in compliance with the principles and rights included in this Convention,” the delegate stated that the IDC had a legitimate concern but that adding the phrase might be redundant, since that is something that is assumed and applicable to every article. Also regarding the IDC’s proposal to add the phrase “if they are accepted by persons with disabilities” to 5(4), the delegate noted that Article 4(3) addresses this by pointing out that the convention was developed in coordination with people with disabilities and their representative organizations.
New Zealand supported the EU proposals to 5(2) and 5(4) but noted Australia’s comments regarding the latter. It stated that concerns regarding reasonable accommodation in 5(3) maybe addressed in Article 2. It also agreed with Serbia and Montenegro that including text on compliance with the principles and rights in the Convention in 5(4) is not necessary.
Israel stated that its amendments to 5(3) are based on the IDC proposals and
merit serious consideration by delegates. Israel asserted that the changes
are necessary to reflect worldwide recognition that states must take active
steps to promote the equal and active participation of persons in all areas
Liechtenstein said that it would accept the text of the article as written. It welcomed the streamlining efforts with regard to 5(2) but urged the retention of “equal and effective protection” to remind states that including non-discrimination in laws is not sufficient and that active measures are required. Addressing the concern raised by India on the phrase “on any other grounds,” Liechtenstein suggested removing the word “other” for further clarification. The language would then mirror that in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Regarding the EU’s proposals for 5(4), it said extreme discrimination as a result of the current text would mean states are not interpreting it in good faith. Liechtenstein was flexible regarding the EU’s suggestion to use the word “discriminatory” and the proposal to add “specific” to “measures.” It supported Serbia and Montenegro’s view on IDC’s proposed changes to 5(4).
The Chair asked the EU to respond to Liechtenstein’s proposal to delete the word “other” in 5(2).
Austria, on behalf of the EU, stated it would accept the deletion of word “other” in 5(2). Austria proceeded to respond to all other comments on the article. It accepted Canada’s proposal to change “any” to “all” in 5(2). It commented that India’s point on the prohibition of discrimination already being a part of state constitutions places national legislature above to the convention and the EU would need to discuss this further internally. Regarding Kenya’s proposal, it asked to see the actual wording to verify that it is not contrary to definitions stated in Article 2. Austria offered a compromise to the EU proposal to 5(4) to replace “discrimination on the basis of disability” with “discriminatory” by revising the change to “shall not be discrimination under the terms of the present convention.”
Yemen stated that regarding 5(2), the convention should confine itself to discrimination against PWD and not address other discrimination dealt with in other conventions. Regarding 5(3), Yemen supported the Chair’s suggestion to refer to Article 26 of the ICCPR to achieve an agreement on the wording.
The United States (U.S.) was pleased with the text as written but also supported the EU’s proposals regarding 5(2) and 5(4). The U.S. was not opposed to Kenya’s and Israel’s proposals for 5(3) but agreed that they may be addressed in the context of definitions. The U.S. also supported China’s proposal to highlight nondiscrimination and the IDC’s proposal because it emphasizes personal freedom.
Chile stated that the punitive result of discrimination should be added to
5(2) and proposed the addition of “guarantee sanctions against those
responsible for such discriminations,” with those sanctions to be determined
by national legislation.”
Sierra Leone supported Yemen’s proposal for 5(2) that the convention address only discrimination on basis of disability and exclude reference to other forms of discrimination. It also suggested adding language in 5(3) to highlight that developing countries should especially take proper measures to ensure reasonable accommodation.
Russian Federation supported all proposals made at the beginning of the session. It stated that it supported as written the text of 5(1) and 5(3). It asserted that 5(2) is essential to ensure the link between norms and the penalties for discrimination and also supported adding prohibition on “other grounds.” Russian Federation was flexible regarding 5(4).
Republic of Korea had no strong concerns about Article 5 and supported China’s proposal for 5(3). It recommended replacing “undertake to take” to “shall take” in 5(3).
Mexico stressed the importance of the participation of NGOs, whose expertise was essential to developing the convention. Mexico accepted the EU’s proposal, with the additional changes proposed by Canada and the suggestion by Liechtenstein regarding 5(2). It was also in favor of Chile’s proposal that “legal” be added to qualify “protection’ in 5(2). Mexico supported the EU’s proposal for clarification of 5(4). It stated that India’s concern regarding state constitutions could be included another part of the document.
Ghana, on behalf of African Group, stated it had taken note of all the comments and would convey its reactions electronically to the Chairman.
Morocco stated that it supported the elimination of the second sentence in 5(2). It also supported Kenya’s proposal regarding 5(3).
Brazil stated that it supported Chile’s proposal regarding 5(2) and the IDC’s proposal regarding 5(4).
The Chair announced commencement of the formal meeting to hear from civil society.
The IDC began by stating that it comprises 59 NGOS from all over the world. The representative stated that Article 5 needs to be read in conjunction with Article 2, specifically for definitions of discrimination and reasonable accommodation. It supported the objective of streamlining 5(2) but opposed the elimination of the first part of the second sentence. The IDC stressed that the denial of reasonable accommodation is a form of discrimination and was open to Kenya’s and Israel’s proposals regarding more global references to equality, but argued that denial of reasonable accommodation should not be mixed up with these elements. The IDC supported the EU’s proposal to substitute “discriminatory” in 5(4). It agreed that “specific” is better than “special” but questioned the need for any adjective to qualify the word “measures” in 5(4). The IDC noted that its proposals may appear redundant to some people, but asserted that the world is still largely patronizing and patriarchal towards PWD. It is therefore necessary for PWD to define for themselves which measures are acceptable to accelerate de facto equality.
The Chair asked the IDC how the qualification that measures be “accepted by persons with disabilities” would be determined by states, bearing in mind that states need to implement this convention into domestic law. The Chair also asked whether denial of reasonable accommodation should be considered discrimination. Under Article 4(2) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESR) these rights are subject to progressive implementation, except where this would result in discrimination. To qualify lack of reasonable accommodation as discrimination would subject it to immediate implementation, which may be viewed by many states as impossible due to resource issues.
Regarding how to put into practice the qualification that measures by “accepted by PWD,” The IDC asserted that this would generally be accomplished by laws or measures of general application developed in consultation with PWD. However, if the case related to a more specific or individual application, regarding for example a company, then this acceptance would be on an individual basis. With respect to the second question, IDC stated that there is a distinction between reasonable accommodation and general accessibility. Reasonable accommodation in this context refers to individual cases, such as for an employee or a student requiring an accommodation for a specific purpose. This should be immediately achievable, whereas making the entire environment immediately accessible would indeed be impossible. The IDC noted that the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) website (http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/enable/) contains examples of national legislation that define reasonable accommodation as a form of discrimination.
The Chair asked the IDC to respond to a delegate’s comment that its proposed addition to 5(4), “in compliance with principles and rights included in this convention” is redundant.
The IDC said that it will remain flexible with its proposals. If the first part is accepted it would concede that the second part is already included in the spirit of the convention.
The representative of the National Human Rights Institutions (NHRI) observed that the first sentence of 5(2) features a general obligation of prohibition against discrimination on disability and the second addresses discrimination on other grounds. The two are interlinked and both should be retained. NHRI proposed retention of 5(3) as written, noting that reasonable accommodation has been qualified in Article 2 such that it should not include a disproportionate burden and therefore posed no risk. The delegate noted concern regarding the IDC proposal to 5(4) as having the potential to obstruct the process of implementation.
The Chair summarized the discussion as follows:
• There were no proposals to amend 5(1) and it was generally supported.
• There was extensive discussion regarding 5(2), specifically regarding EU’s proposal to streamline the provision and bringing the element of discrimination against “other rights.” In terms of specific language changes, support was expressed to changing “any” to “all” and deleting “other” in 5(2). No objections were heard regarding Mexico’s proposal to refer to “protection” as “legal protection.”
• There were various proposals to amplify 5(3) and further reflection is required on the specific language. Some delegations pointed out that the definition of reasonable accommodation itself was sufficient and there was no further need to amplify provision. There was support for China’s proposal regarding 5(3). Korea raised the issue of language, recommending replacing “undertake to take” to “shall take.”
• There was support to add “specific” in front of “measures.” Delegations expressed concern with replacing the phrase “on basis of discrimination” to “discriminatory” and an alternative proposed by Austria should be examined in the redraft.
• The IDC’s proposal to add language stating that measures be accepted by persons with disabilities was clearly important to IDC. There was some concern a regarding the implementation of such language.
The Chair stated that he would redraft 5 and present it in the upcoming days.
The Session was adjourned.
Article 8 – Raising awareness regarding disability
The Chair reminded the Committee that there has been no decision regarding whether to retain titles of the articles in the final convention. He referred to the two proposals that were submitted electronically, one from the EU and the other from the IDC. The EU’s version of article 8 deletes subparagraphs 8(1)(c), 8(2) (a), (c) and (d) and moves 8(2)(b) to paragraph 1 as the new 2(c). The IDC version would keep the existing structure of the convention, making a minor change subparagraph 1(a) to refer only to “persons with disabilities” and not to “disability”. Additionally, “sharing the same rights and freedoms as others” will be added to the end of 8(1)(c). In 8(2)(a)(ii) the IDC would delete references to sexuality, parenthood, and family relations of PWD. Finally, the IDC would propose to replace the language in paragraph 8(2)(d) with “promoting awareness training programs on the human rights of persons with disabilities.”
Korea suggested that Article 8 is unnecessary. Rights cannot be guaranteed by raising public awareness. A review of other international conventions showed that none of them includes a similar article. The Chair responded by explaining that Article 7 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) requires States Parties to undertake measures to combat prejudice. Furthermore, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) contains a provision regarding measures to positively influence public understanding of gender issues. There is, therefore, precedent for this type of article.
Chile stated that raising awareness is a key aspect of promoting the rights of PWD. There was a suggestion related to terminology in the Spanish text, which would affect the substance of the article. The Chair promised this would be reviewed.
Holy See asserted that it is important to express concepts in a positive manner, avoiding language such as “to change negative perceptions and social prejudices,” found in 8(2)(a)(ii). Holy See proposed that these concepts be reconstructed and reworded in the positive by replacing this language with “to promote positive perceptions and greater social awareness.”
El Salvador stressed the need to incorporate a social approach to compliment the legal approach and therefore proposed that “rights” be changed to “rights and dignity” in 8(1)(a) and 8(2)(b).
Israel supported the IDC amendments to Article 8, noting that some of these changes are important in order to promote the social model of disability over the medical model.
Yemen preferred that linguistic issues be addressed by a drafting committee. Regarding substantive issues, the delegate proposed a change in the title to clarify that the intent of the article is to increase the knowledge of the rights and dignity of PWD. Yemen supported the IDC proposal for 8(2)(a)(ii) and opposed Korea’s suggestion to delete the entire article.
Japan supported retaining the list in 8(2)(a)(ii), stating that PWD are subject to negative perceptions in these areas. It proposed changing “all matters of,” to “all matters relating to.” Japan agreed with the Holy See’s point regarding the need to eliminate negative constructions.
Canada would support keeping the Chair’s text for subparagraph 8(2)(a)(ii). Canada suggested a “footer” at the end of paragraph 1 to read “Such consultation shall be undertaken in consultation with persons with disabilities and their representative organizations.”
The Chair explained that, in drafting the Chair’s text, he had shifted certain obligations, such as the obligation to consult with PWD, to the general obligations. This was done to ensure understanding of their application to the whole of the text. Reinserting some of them back into other articles may undermine that.
Costa Rica supported the text. It proposed that “organs of the media” be simplified to “media.” Costa Rica preferred that the articles not contain titles. Costa Rica was prepared to support all the previous proposals except for the one that deletes the entire article.
Argentina supported the IDC proposal and agreed that the title of the article could be modified.
Mexico supported the article as it is currently drafted. In 8(2)(a)(ii), Mexico proposed to include “maternity” in the list.
Austria, on behalf of the EU, clarified that its effort to shorten the text was partially intended to avoid using patronizing language, however the NGO community is the best judge of that and Mexico would defer to its opinion on that issue. In response to the proposal to amend the title, the EU is worried that this will narrow the objective. Awareness needs to be raised not only on the rights of PWD but also on combating stereotypes in general. Revising 8(1)(c) to include “sharing the same rights and freedoms as others” would make the language less patronizing. It supported deleting the list in 8(2)(a)(ii). Finally, Austria pointed out a difference in the language in the proposals to 8(2)(c) and 8(2)(d); 8(2)(c) refers to rights and freedoms while 8(2)(d) refers to “human rights.”
New Zealand strongly supported retention of the article. It suggested spelling out specific measures for states to take, specifically in regard to family relations, which PWD are often denied the right to experience as a result of social and individual expectations and attitudes. As relationships are more based on social norms and beliefs than they are facilitated by law, raising awareness on this issue is particularly important. New Zealand shared the EU’s concern about narrowing awareness raising to only human rights.
Serbia and Montenegro supported the EU proposal to streamline the text and stressed that that awareness raising is needed because PWD are often marginalized.
Qatar asked whether the negative perceptions in 8(2)(a) appear in other conventions. Furthermore, it agreed with Yemen to remove the word “sexuality” in 8(2)(a)(ii), restricting the focus to marriage and family relations.
Ecuador supported the retention of titles to all articles.
Syrian Arab Republic approved of the text, but supported deleting “sexuality” in 8(2)(a)(ii) to better accommodates the cultural and religious differences of every country.
Liechtenstein preferred to leave some of the details out, noting that some specifics may change over time and could be covered in future General Comments. It proposed that the title be changed to simply “Awareness Raising,” noting that the substance is covered in the article itself. Perhaps term “privacy” could replace “sexuality” to mitigate some of the sensitivities.
China supported amending the title to “Raising Awareness.” The
delegate urged consistency of terminology throughout the text, specifically
regarding “shall undertake to take” versus “shall”,
which also affects Article 5. China supported deleting the list in 8(2)(a)(ii)
and Costa Rica’s proposal to 8(2)(c).
Kenya supported changing the title to “Raising Awareness.” Kenya disagreed with the IDC suggestion to delete “disability” in 8(1)(a). It supported the retention of the list in 8(2_(1)(ii), except for the word “sexuality.”
Russia agreed with the comments of Liechtenstein and China, especially regarding
changing the title, and supported the Holy See with respect to positive construction/language.
Sierra Leone, on behalf of the African Group, proposed changing in the chapeau “adopt immediate” to “adopt appropriate.” With regard to 8(1)(b), it proposed replacing “combat stereotypes and prejudices about person’s with disabilities in all aspects of life” with “combat stereotypes, prejudices and practices, whether cultural or other, which discriminate against persons with disabilities” and Sierra Leone agreed with the Holy See regarding positive construction/language and supported deleting the list in 8(2)(a)(ii).
Brazil supported the IDC proposal for 8(2)(d) and the point about maternity. Brazil strongly urged retention of the word sexuality in 8(2)(a)(ii).
The Chair clarified that the issue of the word “maternity” was specific to the Spanish text and would be addressed.
Uruguay, supported Liechtenstein’s proposed change to the title, if titles are retained. They support Chile’s concern about 8(2)(d), and would prefer to retain the list in 8(2)(a)(ii)
India supported the deletion of 8(2)(a)(ii) but, if it is retained, India urged the deletion of the word “sexuality” in order to be culturally sensitive. It supported Liechtenstein’s proposal to amend the title of the article.
Chair outlined the proposals made by Sierra Leone on behalf of the African Group and asked if there were any objections. There were no objections to replacing “immediate” with “appropriate” in the chapeau. Yemen and Australia expressed concern over amending 8(1)(b) to read “to combat stereotype, prejudices, and practices, whether cultural or otherwise, that discriminate against persons with disabilities.” The Chair asked those delegates to consult with Sierra Leone.
The Chair announced commencement of the formal meeting to hear from civil society. He asked specifically for the IDC to comment on government delegations’ reactions to its proposals.
IDC insisted on the importance of deleting “disability” in 8(1)(a) as a subject of awareness raising. It supported the EU position that the article would benefit from some shortening. IDC opposed Korea’s proposal but agreed that the article should be written so that it does not become outdated over time. Additionally, IDC argued for the retention of the negative language and construction in 8(1)(b) as the best way to avoid patronizing language and paternalism. The delegate pointed out that this language is consistent with CERD and CEDAW. IDC supported the suggestion of the African Group, as modified by Australia, to that sentence. The IDC clarified that it did not oppose the term “sexuality” and that its suggestion to delete the list in 8(2)(a)(ii) was based on the fact that prejudices exist in all areas of life and could not be adequately enumerated in a list. However, IDC was open to retaining the list - including “sexuality” - if “in all matters of” is replaced by “including matters of,” which more clearly defines it as a non-exhaustive list. Based on the comments heard on 8(2)(d), IDC modified its proposal to read “promoting awareness and training programs regarding persons with disabilities and their rights”. While IDC did not object to the addition of the word “appropriate” in the chapeau, it opposed the deletion of “immediate.”
Disabled People’s International (DPI) supported the preceding IDC intervention.
DPI noted that the Chair’s text does not include language on publicity
of the convention, which is a standard provision in human rights conventions,
and recommended that the text make explicit provision for the publicity and
dissemination of both the convention and work products of the monitoring body,
including in accessible formats.
The Chair referred to article 42 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and asked if that language, adapted appropriately, would be acceptable to satisfy DPI’s suggestion. There were no objections. He then asked Chile if the IDC’s amended proposal to 8(2)(d) would address its concern regarding the language of that provision and Chile confirmed that it would.
The Chair summarized the discussion as follows:.
• The only concern about replacing “immediate” with “appropriate” in the chapeau to paragraph 8(1) was expressed by the IDC and he requested the IDC and Sierra Leone (on behalf of the African Group) to consult on that proposal.
• There was good support for the deletion of “disability” in 8(1)(a).
• There were no objections to El Salvador’s proposal to add “and dignity” after “rights” in 8(1)(a) and 8(2)(b).
• There was general support for making the language of 8(2)(a)(ii) more positive.
• There were numerous cultural concerns about the word “sexuality” and the Chair stated that it would be deleted for the moment. He asked delegates to consider whether “personal and family relations” would be an acceptable alternative to the current list in 8(2)(a)(ii).
• There was consensus for Costa Rica’s suggestion to delete replace “organs of the media” with “media.”
• There was general support for the amended IDC proposal to 8(2)(d) and that would be incorporated.
• If titles are retained, Article 8 would be titled “Raising Awareness.”
Costa Rica clarified that the Chair’s proposal to 8(2)(a)(ii) should read “including personal and family relations.”
Mexico pointed out that “immediate and effective measures” is language consistent with other conventions. Sierra Leone, on behalf of the African Group, responded that we are not restricted only to language found in other conventions. Requiring states to take “immediate” measures might place undue burden on developing countries. The Chair assured Sierra Leone that the obligation would be subject to the progressive implementation provision in Article 4. He suggested that the delegates from Mexico and Sierra Leone consult on the issue. EU supported Mexico’s concern regarding “immediate” measures and requested to join the informal consultation.
Syrian Arab Republic believed that the phrase “in all matters” in subparagraph 8(2)(a) is too general and proposed adding “in a way that will not undermine national or religious legislations of any given country” to the paragraph. The Chair asked whether amending “in all matters” to “in matters” would satisfy its concern. It did not seem to achieve this, as the Syrian Arab Republic clarified that it was apprehensive about the term “personal relations” and wanted to restrict family relations to marriage.
Islamic Republic of Iran supported the deletion of “sexuality” in 8(2)(a)(ii) deleted, but would be support retention of the remainder of the list.
Yemen clarified that it wanted to delete references to stereotyping. Regarding “personal relations,” this is a taboo term that should be avoided and thus Yemen supported the position of the Syrian Arab Republic. Yemen supported the current title of the article.
China reiterated its support for deleting the list in 8(2)(a)(ii)
Qatar supported the Syrian Arab Republic, Islamic Republic of Iran and Yemen to delete the reference to sexuality or the list in that paragraph, and to avoid the term “personal relations.”
Syrian Arab Republic suggested adding “with respect to cultural and religious diversity” at the end of the phrase in 8(2)(a)(ii).
The Chair stated that this specific issue raises a more general issue, which is the desire to protect cultural and religious mores and standards, which are often reflected in laws. On the other hand, we do not want to create loopholes for states to act contrary to the convention by including something in their legislation. It is indeed a delicate balance maintain.
Jordan suggested that replacing “personal relations” with “personal and family status” might address the concerns of some delegations.
Sudan stated that it would support the phrasing ultimately chosen as long as it achieves balance the Chair described.
The Chair stated that the language he had proposed during discussion appeared not to achieve the goal of resolving the issues and it would have to be revisited. He concluded discussion on article 8.
Article 9 - Accessibility
The Chair stated that the EU had indicated in its position paper that it might redraft Article 9. There was a new redraft from the IDC and Israel had submitted a proposal, which was similar to the IDC’s.
The EU announced that its new proposal had been submitted and would be available online soon. Among the changes, the EU attempted to link accessibility with ensuring equal access and also to make clear that accessibility standards should apply to all facilities serving the public, regardless of whether they are publicly or privately owned. Furthermore, EU tried to link accessibility, which applies generally, with the idea of reasonable accommodation, which is of a more individual application. The EU proceeded to read through all of its proposed changes.
Chile expressed that 9(1) should include the right to accessible communication and information technology. Chile stated that accessibility to the workplace should not be restricted to “publicly owned workplaces” as it is in 9(1)(a) but should apply to the privately owned workplaces as well. 9(2)(h) should include a reference to accessibility to emergency facilities.
Costa Rica asserted that accessibility requirements should not be linked to the buildings or who owns them, but rather to the people for whom use of the facilities or services is intended. If they are intended for public use, then the accessibility requirements should apply. Costa Rica supported Chile’s provision for access to emergency facilities.
Mexico supported the EU’s proposal to 9(1), but suggested adding the phrase “in urban and rural areas” to the end of the paragraph. It agreed with Chile’s proposal to incorporate private workplaces in 9(1)(a) and supported proposal for 9(2)(h). Paragraphs 9(2)(g) and 9(2)(h) should be streamlined.
Panama supported Chile’s proposal regarding private spaces but suggested finding language to define private spaces with common access. It supported Mexico’s suggestion to add the words “urban” and “rural.” Panama also suggested that public transportation be included in the article.
The session was adjourned.
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