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Session of the Ad Hoc Committee
Summaries of the Seventh Session
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Article 27 - Employment
The Chair opened the session with 6 remaining delegations on the speakers
list for Article 27. Written proposals on Article 27 included Canada (http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/enable/rights/ahc7canada.htm),
the EU (http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/enable/rights/ahc7docs/ahc7eu1.doc),
Israel (http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/enable/rights/ahc7docs/ahc7eu1.doc), Mexico (http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/enable/rights/ahc7mexico.htm),
The International Labour Organization (http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/enable/rights/ahc7docs/ahc7ilo1.doc) and the IDC (http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/enable/rights/ahc7docs/ahc7widc1.doc)
Argentina stated that the article is acceptable, but noted that there were proposals that would improve the text. The central issue is to encourage the creation of employment and to ensure the participation of PWD in the labour market. It supported the proposal by Chile to replace “encourage” with “promote” in 26(f). It considered Kenya’s recommendation to incorporate the prohibition of forced servitude or work into this article to be in accordance with Article 8 of the ICCPR.
The Syrian Arab Republic supported the text as providing fair protection of the right to employment. It asserted that the chapeau should address general principles and the subparagraphs should then focus on measures of implementation and thus proposed that the second sentence of the chapeau be transferred to a subparagraph. Regarding 26(a), the Syrian Arab Republic believed the word “legislation” actually refers to “organization.”
El Salvador was in general agreement with the proposed text. It emphasized the concept of social entrepreneurial responsibility, which consists of the business sector participating in the solution of social problems through ethical and socially-focused business practices. One example of this is the employment of PWD, and this must be encouraged. PWD must have access to work in both rural and urban areas, equal opportunities, and remunerated work in the labour market.
Thailand supported the text in the chapeau and Japan’s proposal to separate the concept of States Parties setting an example by employing PWD into a separate paragraph. It also supported including alternative forms of work for PWD who may not be able to work in the open market.
Austria, on behalf of the EU, stated that it had studied Israel’s proposal. The EU promoted a general approach that PWD should not be treated less favorably than others. It therefore had some reservations, especially regarding Israel’s 27(g) which might create new and lower standards for PWD. It had compared that proposal to Article 7 of the ICESCR, which reflects that States Parties recognize the right of everyone to just and favorable conditions of work, including fair wages and equal remuneration for of work of equal value. The concept of alternative forms of employment does not appear in other instruments and the EU recommended retaining the Chair’s text to avoid reflecting lower standards.
The International Labour Organization (ILO) welcomed the emphasis on PWD in open employment and noted that it has called for such opportunities since the introduction of the first international instrument relating to PWD in 1955. It supported the encouragement of employers to hire PWD, including affirmative action measures, and welcomed addressing reasonable accommodation in the convention. However, the ILO stated that the majority of PWD cannot or do not work in open labour market. People outside the open labour market have the greatest need of protection by this convention, but they are largely excluded from draft Article 27. Therefore, in addition to its proposed amendments to the text of Article 27, the ILO had prepared a technical advisory note for the committee to consider. The ILO stressed three main points: the significant size of this sector, even in countries promoting a rights-based approach; the variety of ways in which work has been organized in this sector - emphasizing that work outside of the open labour market extends beyond sheltered work and includes self-employment, supported work, protected employment, social enterprises and cottage industries, to name only a few; and the way in which the right of PWD to work is provided for in existing instruments. These instruments include the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities, the ILO Convention 159 and Recommendation 168. The ILO noted that the EU formally recognized the need for alternative forms of work for PWD and made legal provisions for EU states to provide financial support for such programmes. The convention should include an obligation to develop and implement policies to promote alternative work arrangements that reasonably accommodate the needs of PWD and protect the rights of those who participate in such work. The ILO supported the proposal by Israel to add 27(j) with minor drafting amendments. It also supported Kenya’s proposal to include prohibition of servitude and slavery and referred to ILO’s Forced Labour Convention, which has been ratified by 168 countries.
IDC stated that PWD need to be protected by non-discrimination ordinances in the workplace. Job applications often include questions regarding mental illness, which is discriminatory and ignores the applicants’ relevant experience and education. If PWD do not disclose a “mental illness,” it is considered lying; if they do disclose it, they are often denied employment. The representative stated that he had not disclosed a mental illness on a job application, but had been hired, performed well and been promoted. However, in the performance of his job, he found the need for more rest than normal. Management was not willing to provide the reasonable accommodation he required and eventually terminated his employment on the basis of his psychosocial disability. His failure to disclose his condition on the employment application left him with no options for legal redress. IDC appealed to the committee to ensure that PWD can assert their right to work with dignity, access reasonable accommodation and receive equal pay for equal work.
Another IDC representative believed in encouraging work in the open market. He noted that in Zambia, if an employer discovers that you have a disability, you will be terminated. Some governments even have policies that prevent PWD from being employed. If governments do not encourage the employment of PWD, there is little hope that others will. IDC supported training and employment for PWD and reiterated that PWD so not want charity, just opportunity. It did not support reinserting occupational therapy in this article where it does not belong. That promotes the outdated medical model regarding employment of PWD. This convention must eliminate archaic terms and notions that are harmful to PWD. The IDC addressed the issue of PWD with what are considered “high support needs.” It asserted that not all unemployed PWD are not in the work force because they are unable. There are a range of reasons, including many that affect all persons, not just PWD, such as family obligations or caring for a sick child. Many people with higher needs may wish to work and can do so with support. However, others will choose not to be part of the workforce and these people need opportunities to participate in activities that keep them connected with their communities. This could perhaps be included in the article on recreation and IDC would give this more thought.
A third speaker from IDC noted that the previous interventions illustrate the reason this convention must support full inclusion in the open labour market, with support where necessary. It supported the EU position that separate and unequal standards in alternative forms of employment would dilute the rights PWD currently have under the ICESCR. ICESCR refers to the right to work that the individual freely chooses or accepts, which is stronger than ILO Recommendation 168, referenced in the ILO technical note. The convention the Ad Hoc Committee is drafting is a human rights convention and needs to be based on the relevant human rights conventions. Regarding its proposal to 27(a), the IDC noted that this refers to nondiscrimination in “all forms of employment.” This broad language was chosen to ensure that the rights apply to all types of employment, including the public and private sectors, the non-profit sector and in sheltered workshops and other alternative types of employment. IDC believed that denial of reasonable accommodation is discrimination but that states can provide financial assistance to assist with affirmative action efforts. Its proposal to 27(f) included a provision for statutory assistance and the IDC could also support the inclusion of “targets,” although it would not welcome including “quotas,” which are often counterproductive. IDC strongly supported language that encourages a solid employment policy to hire PWD for public jobs. IDC noted that self employment is of great important PWD, especially in developing countries, and its proposal to 27(e) addressed this.
A fourth IDC speaker, representing the IDC Women’s Caucus, clarified that proposals made by the Women’s Caucus were intended to be complementary to the IDC proposals. IDC Women’s Caucus noted that it had gone to great lengths to consult with women with disabilities from all over the world, including women from rural areas, despite the fact that women with disabilities often do not have access to information and communications technology and are more likely to be illiterate than their male counterparts. According to the World Disability Report, three quarters of women with disabilities worldwide and up to 100% in some developing countries are excluded from the workforce –though the majority contribute significantly to the lives of their families. The vast majority of women with disabilities live in poverty. According to an EU study, 35% of men with disabilities have jobs compared with only 25% of women with disabilities, and women are paid less and have access to less dignified work. Many women with disabilities experience harassment in the workplace on the basis of both gender and disability. The representative explained that the IDC Women’s Caucus suggested augmenting the IDC’s proposal to Article 27 with the new 27(j) contained in the IDC Women’s Caucus’ written proposal.
A fifth IDC representative highlighted the important issue of the protection from forced or compulsory labour, which was not included in the current text despite the reference in the chapeau to the right of PWD to choose freely their employment. IDC stated that the text accords a lower standard in this regard in comparison with ICCPR Article 8. International attention and the development of international law on the subject of forced labour and servitude has tended to focus on issues such as trafficking in women and children. IDC stressed the need to ensure that PWD are protected from human rights violations in the areas of forced labour and servitude as well and expressed its gratitude for Kenya’s support of this issue, which is addressed in the IDC proposal.
The final IDC speaker focused on inclusion in the text of all forms of employment, particularly programmes and schemes that are run by states. The IDC text for 27(a) covers all such schemes as well as addressing non-discrimination. The representative noted that, although it had not been explicitly recognized in the text or during discussion, Article 27 tends to focus on organized forms of employment, while the ICESCR focuses on the right to earn a living. This focus should be incorporated and a text balancing both elements should be created. The approach throughout the development of the rest of the convention had been to avoid accepting lesser standards for PWD and to combine the concepts of equality and non-discrimination. This approach, which is reflected in ICESCR Article 6(1), is also needed in Article 27 where equality and non-discrimination must go hand in hand in order to ensure effective enjoyment of the right to work and the economic independence of PWD. This is perhaps more important here than in any other article. In addition, it is critical to emphasize the need for support of all forms, including financial support and assistive technologies.
National Human Rights Institutions (NHRI) noted its interest in Israel’s proposed 27(j), dealing with a strong dynamic toward mainstreaming in the open labour market as well as protecting all workers with disabilities no matter what sector of the employment sphere they occupy. NHRI pointed to General Comment 5 of the ICESCR which recognizes that the right to earn a living by freely chosen employment is not realized when the only options include sub-standard conditions in “sheltered” facilities. The same document states that disability must not serve as an excuse for lower labour standards or lower wages. General Comment 5 powerfully supports the dynamic of integration and stresses the right for decent conditions of employment and standards for all. Israel’s proposal reaches hidden workers and their conditions of employment and is crafted to advance - and not detract from - Article 7 of the ICESCR in the disability context. It also seeks to place a clear onus on States to move workers with disabilities into the open and supported labour market and to retain them there, as well as to protect workers with disabilities in other work situations in which they may find themselves. NHRI noted that Israel’s proposal could be strengthened with respect to open labour market integration and was mindful of the interventions of many delegations in this regard, which deserve to be accommodated in 27(j). NHRI was somewhat concerned that the phrase “adequately resourced” might be misunderstood to support the needless perpetuation of sheltered workshops, though that was clearly not Israel’s intention. The representative asserted that the proposal by Israel deserved further study and consideration in an effort to ensure that Article 27 reflects the moral imperative of ensuring a dynamic toward the open labour market and ensuring decent standards for all.
NHRI did not support removal of the phrase ‘affirmative action programmes’ from Article 27(f). This would create an inconsistency with draft Article 5(4) which creates a permission – not an obligation – to adopt measures which advance de facto equality. Such a saving clause is to be found in most international instruments on discrimination - and is found in most comparative discrimination legislation. Though it may be known by different names, such as “employment equity,” for example, the meaning is universally accepted. 27(f) simply seeks to anchor the general permission for positive action that is contained in Article 5(4) in the specific context of employment, without being unnecessarily prescriptive or explicit. NHRI supported Kenya’s proposal – which builds on an IDC initiative – to include a provision on equal protection with all others against servitude and forced or compulsory labour. This would effectively fill a gap in the text and is fully congruent with Article 8 of the ICCPR. Finally, it supported proposal that mention be made of workers who acquire disabilities during the course of their employment in the draft text, a reference that may best fit in 27(a) after the words ‘persons with disabilities’ and which would read “including those who acquire disability during the course of their work.”
Mental Disability Rights International (MDRI) did not support Israel’s proposal to change “ensure” to “required” because it is inconsistent with all other references to reasonable accommodation in the convention, which refer to the obligation to “ensure.” Furthermore, “require” represents a lower standard than “ensure.” “Require” indicates that states must pass laws or guidelines, but says nothing about enforcement, investigation or sanctioning. MDRI strongly supported New Zealand and the EU regarding Israel’s proposed 27(j). The specific reference to alternative employment forms is not necessary in this convention. The important issue Israel intended to cover is already adequately addressed in the article.
A representative of a UK NGO did not support the inclusion of sheltered workshops in Article 27. Sheltered workshops represent an outdated concept that creates barriers and even represent a form of institutionalization. Many PWD in these workshops never make the transition into the open employment market. Sheltered workshops reduce the responsibility of state parties to support PWD in open employment. It disagreed with the ILO that open employment is impossible for many PWD. In the UK, 6,000 to 8,000 people work in sheltered workshops, while there are more than three million PWD in the open labour market and three million more looking for work. States Parties must work with PWD and employers to support initiatives on access to work. It supported the IDC in its assertion that the current text should focus on PWD entering labour market and exercising choice as to the work that they do. Retaining sheltered employment in the text supports and legitimizes this type of situation, which is not what PWD want.
Islamic Republic of Iran noted it would be better to move the second sentence of the chapeau to a new sub-paragraph of its own. Regarding 27(b), it favored the position of the EU and others to replace “in accordance with national laws of general legislation” with “on an equal basis with others.” In 27(f), Islamic Republic of Iran supported retaining “encourage” and adding “including in the private sector” after “employers.” The activities of the private sector are highlighted in many international documents and represent an important source of employment opportunities. Employment of PWD in the private sector will pave the way for the employment in all sectors. In the same paragraph, it suggested adding “and retain” after “hire.” In 27(g), it suggested replacing “ensure” with less forceful language such as “take all possible measures.”
Sudan stated that the chapeau should contain general principles, which is standard in international conventions. While this text includes concepts regarding implementation, it does not provide guidance on actual steps needed to ensure that implementation. The subparagraphs should be used to outline steps needed to implement the principles mentioned in the chapeau. For example, after the principle of States Parties setting an example by employing PWD, the subparagraph should include the necessary steps to achieve this. In 27(b), Sudan supported adding “on an equal footing with others” in reference to the right of PWD to exercise trade union rights. Sudan did not support language that promotes creating a special environment for certain PWD, such as women with disabilities. This is in conflict with the principle overall integration of PWD. Sudan stated that “Right to Work” might be a more acceptable title for Article 27.
Kuwait stated that Article 27 is one of the most important because it is closely linked with “development aspects.” The concepts and principles included should take into account that the world has changed because of globalization. The role of the state should not be confined just to the public sector. The text should also refer to role of the private sector to create job opportunities in an appropriate way and to take part in the readaptation and financing of the private sector. Kuwait supported Yemen’s proposals to add “on equal footing with others” at the end of to 27(e), and to retain language regarding PWD exercising trade union rights and professional rights. To that end, it supported 27(b) as it appears in the Chair’s text.
Israel noted both the support and the suggestions regarding its proposed 27(j). It clarified that this language is intended to stress that States Parties should take all possible measures to facilitate the move of PWD from outside the open labour market into the open labour market. It did not intend to imply that sheltered workshops are desirable or preferable. Rather, it is a positive obligation to move away from such types of employment. However, it must be recognized that many people are working in various situations outside the open labour market - which, as the ILO pointed out, are not necessarily limited to sheltered workshops - and it is absolutely necessary to extend protections to those people. Article 27, as written, is not clear in affording those protections, and interpretations to that effect have indeed been made. Israel could not ignore the attitude that much of work performed by PWD is not of economic value and is thus only rehabilitative and falls outside the framework of industrial relations and labour law. To consign PWD in those situations to provisions on rehabilitation and leave them outside the ambit of Article 27 leaves them largely unprotected. Israel stated that if the problem with its proposal was in the wording, it would be flexible and willing to work with others to arrive at wording that more clearly expresses its intent.
The Chair concluded the discussion of Article 27 and noted the strong level of support for the text. He summarized the discussion as follows:
• There was a suggestion to replace “recognize” with “reaffirm” in
the chapeau. “Reaffirm” is generally used in declarations, while “recognize” is
commonly found in conventions.
• There was strong support for shifting the second sentence of the chapeau to a new sub-paragraph, as the employment of PWD in the public sector is a specific element for implementation.
• There were various proposals to amend the language regarding employment of PWD in the public sector, but the existing language was well supported.
• There were several proposals to refer to legislation in the chapeau. This should be considered further, as it may also address some problems referring to legislation in 27(a). If the reference to legislation in 27(a) is retained, it should be clearly expanded to enable states to adopt other means, on an equal basis with others, to protect PWD.
• Regarding 27(a), there were references to protecting PWD from harassment, which were clearly supported. This may link in with language from the facilitator on women’s issues, which will be addressed up separately.
• There was support for structural changes to separate the concept of discrimination from that of protection.
• Including the issue of workers who acquire a disability in the course of employment, it appeared to be important for several delegations and might usefully be included.
• Regarding 27(b), there was strong support to replace in “accordance with applicable national legislation” with “on an equal basis with others.” There were also some interventions in support of retaining the existing language. The Chair noted that he would look for language that meets the needs of both groups and encouraged delegations to consult together.
• Regarding 27(d), there was no clear trend for change.
• Regarding 27(e), the Chair noted no specific proposal to cover micro-enterprises, and it was specifically opposed by one delegation.
• There was a proposal to provide for alternative forms of employment in 27(d), coupled with a new 27(j) proposal from Israel for alternative forms of employment. A number of delegations expressed concerns with alternative forms of employment. The Chair asked that delegations consult further to develop language that would incorporate the concept of alternative forms of employment but that addresses the concerns raised.
• Regarding 27(f), many supported changing “encourage” to “promote.”
• Although some were concerned about affirmative action programmes, they also noted that it is cast in a permissive context and could be flexible.
• On the issue of including a reference to targets or quotas, the Chair asserted that the balance is probably right as the text stands.
• Regarding 27(g), there were proposals to change “ensure” to “require” as well as a suggestion to use the word “facilitate.” Some preferred retaining “ensure.” The Chair noted that the difference between “ensure” and “require” is probably not substantial and that “require” is about halfway between “facilitate” and “ensure.” Clearly, this was something that required further reflection.
• There were several interventions addressing the need to deal with the private sector, but there was no specific language proposed. The convention covers the private sector specifically in a number of aspects and its treatment in this article should be considered.
• The issue of addressing the needs of women and children needs to be dealt with.
• There was good support for the inclusion of a provision on the prohibition of servitude, slavery, and forced labour in line with Article 8 of the ICCR.
Yemen noted that the Chair had not referred in his summary to its proposal that, as a compromise to the question in 27(b), “in accordance with national laws of general legislation” and “on an equal basis with others” could both be included in the text.
The Chair stated that he had asked both sides to find a formula to bridge the two points of view. He noted that he did hear a proposal to merge the two, but it was not clear that the proposal would solve the differences for both sides. He encouraged delegations again to consult together and encouraged Yemen to meet with others to reach a welcome compromise.
Article 28 – Adequate standard of living and social protection
The Chair stated that written proposals had been received from the EU (http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/enable/rights/ahc7docs/ahc7eu1.doc) and the IDC (http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/enable/rights/ahc7docs/ahc7idcchairamend1.doc).
The Chair highlighted paragraphs 100-101 of his letter to the committee, in which he recommended using the term ‘social protection,” which was suggested by the article’s facilitator. This term had been defined previously in the report of the Secretary General to the Commission for Social Development and is also used in Articles 23 and 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Jordan noted that the goal of Article 28 is to promote a good standard of living and social protection. Thus the word “adequate” is not, in fact, adequate and stronger language should be used. It stated that 28(2) is not necessary, as all it contains is the concept of social protection and its subparagraphs also apply to 28(1). Thus it can be deleted and its subparagraphs applied to 28(1), which would be more concise.
The Chair noted that this suggestion would certainly speed up the work and keep the text concise.
Jamaica supported the term “social protection” over “welfare,” as it is much broader and does not have a negative connotation. It proposed deleting the language in square bracket referencing women and the elderly in 28(2)(b), noting that it had no opposition to women and that its country is a signatory to CEDAW. However, this Convention should be focused on protecting all PWD. In some cases it may be necessary to refer to specific groups, but it would be preferable to address the gender issue in Article 2 on definitions by making it clear that “persons with disabilities” refers to males, females, boys and girls. It was flexible regarding Jordan’s suggestion to incorporate the subparagraphs from 28(2) into 28(1). It suggested that 29(2)(b) be amended to refer to individuals accessing “poverty reduction programmes” rather than “poverty reduction strategies.”
The Chair noted that “adequate standard of living” is found in Article 11 of ICESCR and Article 27 of CRC. It is well-established terminology in UN human rights instruments and has a more comprehensive meaning than the nuanced one it might appear to have at first reading.
Islamic Republic of Iran suggested that the reference to clean water in 28(1) is out of place in this paragraph, which contains general principles. Regarding 28(2) (b), the current wording is not clear and might be changed to “ensure that PWD are adequately addressed or taken into account in social protection programmes and poverty reduction strategies.” It supported retaining the bracketed language in 28(2)(b), noting that statistics show that women and children usually experience a lower standard of living and social protection. It supported 28(2)(c) and suggested addressing access to clean water, food and clothing in 28(2)(d) instead of in 28(1).
The Russian Federation supported the text and favored retaining “social protection” in 28(1) and in 29(2). “Social security” is afforded to nearly everyone, while “social protection” is more relevant to vulnerable groups and thus is appropriate in this context. It suggested retaining the word “adequate” but recommended that 28(1) be amended to more closely align with the ICESR. The question of clean water is complex and it is difficult to see how it fits into the text of 28(1). It supported deleting the bracketed language in 28(2)(b), noting that adding nuance is not helpful. It might imply that the groups mentioned group should have greater access to these programmes than others. Russian Federation agreed that “poverty reduction strategies” should be amended to “poverty reduction programmes,” which are aimed at individuals. Regarding 28(2)(d), the term “public housing programmes” is translated as “state housing” in the Russian text, an inaccuracy that needs to be addressed.
Colombia expressed concern with the term “social protection,” preferring to use “social security.” It proposed an additional paragraph to cover pensions and retirement, which has not been dealt with explicitly in the convention. It proposed the following language: “To ensure access on an equal basis with others by PWD to pension or retirement programmes and to promote affirmative action or measures that take into account their life expectancy.” Columbia noted PWD have a lower life expectancy and that pension and retirement programmes in general extend beyond their life expectancy. The committee should consider referring to affirmative action that would allow PWD who have worked to have a pension at end of their work life.
Brazil was comfortable with the article as drafted. Brazil supported deleting the brackets and retaining that language in 28(2)(b), however it preferred “women and children with disabilities, and the aged with disabilities” to the current text. In the same paragraph, it supported replacing “poverty reduction strategies” with “poverty reduction programmes.”
The Chair stated that there was a good level of support to change that language to “poverty reduction programmes” and that this would be done.
Canada recognized the Chair’s point that “reaffirm” is typically used in non-binding instruments, however it noted neither CEDAW not ICESR use the terminology of “recognize.” It reiterated its concern that “recognize” seems to indicate an initial recognition, but conceded that perhaps this was a matter of interpretation. It proposed that the Committee consider language to the effect of ‘shall undertake measures that recognize the right…” It further noted that this issue might be resolved in the revision stage when the language goes through the process of “legal parsing”. Regarding 28(1) it preferred referring to “social security,” which is used in the CRC and ICESCR, and suggested clarifying “clean water” as referring to “safe drinking water.” In addition, the latter issue should be formulated in terms of equality or equal access. Regarding 28(2)(a), Canada suggested using the terminology it proposed in Article 19(b), “disability-related supports” to replace “assistance for disability-related needs.” Regarding 28(2)(b), Canada supported removing the square brackets and retaining the text, however the reference to “the aged” should be modified to “older persons.” It also supported replacing “poverty reduction strategies” with “poverty reduction programmes.” Regarding 28(2)(c), the last phrase is paternalistic and should be deleted.
Mexico stated that Article 28 is a fundamental article on human rights. It supported splitting the concepts of “adequate standard of living” and “social protection,” noting that adequate standard of living should not be limited to the benefits of social protection. It suggested the terminology “social security and protection.” In 28(1), the reference to potable water is related to an adequate standard of living as a service, but is not a human right. It supported incorporating established language on this subject from CRC and ICESR. The reference to women and girls and older persons in 28(2)(b) should be resolved in the context of the facilitators’ discussions. Mexico supported replacing “poverty reduction strategies” with “poverty reduction programmes” and Columbia’s proposal for a provision on pensions.
Mali was pleased that the article addresses social protection, which it supported at the last session. It suggested that 28(2)(a) and (b) should be framed in terms of benefits rather than access. Regarding 28(2)(c), Mali proposed clarifying “and their families” by stating “and members of their families living with them.” Regarding the issue of housing in 28(2)(d), it questioned the level of detail regarding affordability. For example, is it meant to be social housing, free housing, or should it be interpreted that PWD should have access even if a certain price cannot be paid? The common denominator is poverty and the fact that poverty reduction strategies typically overlook PWD. Therefore, the convention should emphasize the need for inclusion of PWD in such strategies.
New Zealand was flexible on non-substantive issues such as “social protection” versus “social security.” Regarding Article 28(2)(c), it proposed deleting the list of examples in parentheses, as they could be interpreted as prescribing particular solutions which may not always be the best choices or even necessary if other supports are available. New Zealand had studied the IDC proposals extensively and noted IDC’s opposition to the phrase regarding disincentives. While it did not share that opposition, it nonetheless believed that the IDC amendment of 28(2)(c) elaborates further and better expresses certain issues related to that point, using broader and more positive language and concentrating more directly on ensuring greater autonomy. New Zealand had attempted to draft an amalgamation of the existing language and this new model, but was ultimately flexible. (see http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/enable/rights/ahc7nz.htm) It suggested that the issue of the bracketed language in 28(2)(b) be dealt with in Article 6 and 7 discussions, though it noted its agreement with Mexico’s position on the matter.
Serbia and Montenegro supported “social security” over “social protection,” as consistent with the ICESCR. Regarding 28(2)(b), it supported replacing “poverty reduction strategies” with “poverty reduction programmes.” Regarding 28(2)(c), it proposed deleting the list of examples in parentheses and supported replacing “to cover” with “with.” It noted Jordan’s proposal to delete 28(2) as tempting, but was concerned that it might eliminate some important substance and was thus had some reservations about the idea.
Austria, on behalf of the EU, preferred replacing “social protection” with “social security” in the title. In 28(1), it proposed “equal access to clean water,” noting that although the UDHR does not mention water, the EU’s interpretation was that this is implicit in the reference to the right to food. It supported deleting the bracketed language in 28(2)(b) and noted its written proposal to replace “to cover” with “with” in 28(2)(c).
Israel supported “social security” over “social protection” in the title. It reviewed all of the changes proposed in the new document it had distributed. It noted that its proposal to 28(a) was drawn from the IDC proposal. Israel stated that the use of the word “access” is not clear. It can be confused with accessibility and often refers to an entitlement or to an actual service itself. Israel believed its reformulation is clearer in this regard. It supported Canada’s suggested language of “disability-related support” and would be happy to add that language in its proposal to 28(2)(a). It supported replacing “poverty reduction strategies” with “poverty reduction programmes.” Regarding 28(2)(c), Israel proposal was once again based largely on the IDC text, which addresses critical issues regarding autonomy and the implementation of social security programmes.
South Africa stated that social protection and the maintenance of an adequate standard of living is a human rights and development issue. It also suggested that the creation of safety nets and cross subsidization of social programmes and welfare services should be streamlined in social development programmes and objectives. It proposed that “and economic empowerment” be added after “social protection in 28(2). Regarding 28(2)(b), it suggested adding the issue of personal assistance to families of PWD. Regarding 28(2)(c), it suggested adding the word ‘social” before “assistance,” as the provision of grants and social pensions must be legislated and regulated properly and that can only be done through social assistance legislation.
Japan supported deleting “clean water” in 28(1), but noted its flexibility if the consensus is to retain it. Japan asserted that the provisions in 28(2)(a)-(d) are too detailed to be subject to the obligation to “ensure” and thus the end of the chapeau to 28(2) should be amended to read “including measures to promote,” and the word “ensure” deleted the subparagraphs that follow.
Senegal supported retaining the concept of “social protection.” It recalled its statement from the previous session that social security is addressed to workers, regardless of public-private sector issues. Social protection is much broader. Senegal supported all comments made by Mali.
United States shared the concerns raised in relation to “including access to clean water” and supported its deletion.
Sudan preferred “social assistance” rather than “social protection” in the title, noting that is a broader term that addresses Sudan’s traditional concerns and that “social protection” does not appear to be accepted by the majority of the delegations. Sudan preferred not to list examples in conjunction with the term “adequate standard of living.” It asserted that the mention of clean water does not make sense in the context of 28(1) and recommended its deletion. It supported replacing “poverty reduction strategies” with “poverty reduction programmes.” Sudan noted that 28(d) is unclear in terms of what kind of housing it included and needed to be clarified, especially in the Arabic text.
Syrian Arab Republic stated that “social protection” should be changed to “social security” in the title. In 28(1), it suggested adding “means of transport and technical facilities” after “including adequate housing and clothing,” as these are more important than housing and clothing. In 28(c), it supported the proposal to delete the last phrase.
Norway stated that the text is a good one and that there is no need for major changes. It was flexible regarding the wording of the title. The language relating to poverty in 28(2)(c) should be retained despite the fact that the point is already captured in 28(2)(a). It stated that the last phrase in 28(c) should be deleted, noting that it agrees with the principle, but not in this context.
Morocco supported changing “social protection” to “social security” in the title. It supported adding “means of transport” to the list of examples in 28(1).
El Salvador supported removing the brackets and retaining that text in 28(2)(b), however the language should include boys and adolescents in addition to women and girls. At the end of that paragraph, it supported replacing “social protection” with “social security.” It recommended deleting “and poverty reduction strategies” in 28(2)(b), stating that this notion is already captured in the substance of paragraph 28(2)(c). It then suggested amending 28(2)(c) to read “to ensure that national development plans and poverty reduction programmes take into account the situation of vulnerability of persons with disabilities.” It supported Colombia’s suggestion to include a paragraph addressing pensions or retirement schemes. If this is incorporated, “according to national legislation” should be added to the end, since there are various ways to approach pensions in different countries.
Uganda supported the title as written. It recognized that “social security” has been used in other conventions, but stated that in many countries - especially developing countries – social security is literally non-existent. However, social protection is possible in most countries for certain groups, including PWD. A compromise would be to incorporate both elements. Consistent with this, Uganda proposed that “security” be added after “protection” in 28(2). It also supported introducing the element of economic empowerment, as proposed by South Africa, though perhaps not in this article. Uganda was flexible regarding the proposal to merge 28(2) with 28(1). In 28(2)(b), it supported the removing the brackets but suggested replacing “girls” with “children with disabilities.” It supported replacing “poverty reduction strategies” with “poverty reduction programmes.”
China expressed its flexibility regarding the language in the title of the article. It asserted that clean water is as essential to an adequate standard of living as housing and food, despite the fact that CEDAW is the only other instrument in which it is referenced. It was, however, flexible regarding how the language might be structured within the text. China noted that 28(2) refers to social protection as a “right” and the following subparagraphs each begin with “to ensure.” The delegate stated that this is somewhat redundant and inconsistent. It proposed adding at the end of 28(2) “including access by persons with disabilities to:” and deleting “including measures.” Then “to ensure access by persons with disabilities to” could be deleted in each subparagraph. In 28(2)(c), it proposed adding “together with” before “their families living in situations of poverty.” China was flexible regarding “to cover” versus “with” in that paragraph. It noted the substance of 28(c) as very important and supported the wording at the end of the paragraph as written.
The meeting was adjourned
Article 28: Adequate standard of living and social protection (continued)
Libyan Arab Jamahiriya supported the proposal to replace “social protection” to “social security” in 28(2). It expressed confusion regarding what exactly is covered by “affordable services, devices and other assistance” in 28(2)(a), possibly due to differences between the English text and the Arabic translation. It supported retaining the bracketed language in 28(2)(b) and requested clarification of 28(2)(d).
Yemen noted a nuance in the Arabic language regarding the term “social protection” that implies a need to be protected from some kind of danger and has a negative tone. The term “social care” was suggested as an alternative but Yemen stressed its flexibility. Yemen expressed concern that the list in 28(1) may be under-inclusive and that important aspects of protection and care, such as medicine and education, may be inadvertently excluded. These items should be added to the list, or the list should be deleted altogether. The word “affordable” in 28(2)(a) should be deleted in order to reduce the risk of misinterpreting the text.
Canada supported the deletion of “clean water” in 28(1) if that is the consensus.
Qatar expressed support for changing “social protection” to “social security,” in the title and in 28(2) and for deleting “clean water” in 28(1).
Kenya supported the Chair’s text and voiced concern that some of the proposed changes may weaken the article. Specifically, the term “social protection” is wider concept and includes social security. The reference to “women and girls” in 28(2)(b) should be included because they suffer higher incidences of abuse. Kenya pointed out that in most developing countries, social security is based on the family and so families should be protected alongside PWD in 28(2)(c).
Chile agreed with the view that “social protection” is broader than “social security.” Regarding the language related to “women and girls” Chile noted that, when that discussion takes place, it would likely support deleting the square brackets. It supported Colombia’s proposal to include a provision on pensions based on PWD’s life expectancy. Nine out of ten persons in developing countries do not have such coverage, leading to the conclusion that the number of PWD with such coverage is even less. Chile noted that since 2001, the ILO has been campaigning for social security coverage for all.
Ethiopia commented the title should be “The right to an adequate standard of living and social protection,” to be consistent with the titles of other articles of the draft convention. It supported “social security” instead of “social protection” in 28(2), and the retention of “women and girls” in 28(2)(b).
The IDC pointed out that poverty and disability are very much linked and that the WHO has estimated that 400 million PWD live in developing countries. PWD face barriers in families, communities, and society, such as shame, low expectations, negative attitudes, prejudice, stigma, discrimination as well as physical and communications obstacles, and all forms of isolation that impede access to services and opportunities available to other persons. Income generation programmes are a good idea in general but not accessible for the 400 million PWD living on less than $1/day. Still, these programmes offer dignity and identity to PWD, who would feel that they are contributing to society rather than representing a social burden. Language of this article is far from reality but still needs to be retained. Too often PWD are excluded from existing social programmes, with women being excluded the most. Women are dependent on their husbands and often do not to have rights to social protection since it is considered the men’s duty to provide. The IDC preferred the term “social protection” instead of “social security.” While infrastructure is often a problem, the issue of means of transportation has been dealt with in other articles. The IDC opposed the deletion of “clean water” in 28(1) and supported framing it in terms of equal access. The IDC advocated “provide” as a more active word in 28(2) than “promote” or “ensure.” It supported retention of the term “affordable” in 28(2)(a). IDC also appreciated Israel’s support for its proposal regarding financing provisions in 28(2)(c), noting that helping to reduce the expenses created by disability is not the same as poverty reduction programmes that are not disability-related. In 28(2)(b), the IDC supported retention of the term “women and girls” but would be flexible regarding Brazil’s proposal of “women and children.” The IDC noted that there had been no discussion regarding its proposal to add a provision in 28(2)(b) regarding income maintenance, and stressed its importance since PWD often lose their incomes when they are unable to work anymore. It conceded that the list in proposed in 28(2)(c) could be eliminated as long as the paragraph retains an emphasis on autonomy and full participation, with a prohibition on limits on service contingent on acceptance on some other service. IDC would consider carefully Colombia’s proposal regarding pensions and retirement benefits.
NHRI responded to delegations proposing the deletion of the reference to clean water in 28(1), noting that although clean water is not referenced in the ICCPR, it is explicitly mentioned in CEDAW Article 14 and interpreted as implicit in ICESCR Articles 12, via General Comment 15. NHRI echoed others’ concerns regarding the list of items in 28(2)(c). It welcomed the proposals by IDC and Israel, which stress the concepts of individual choice, autonomy and full participation.
Federation of and for Persons with Disabilities emphasized that other human rights treaties have not benefited PWD. Therefore, the enumeration of items in 28(1) and 28(2)(c) should be retained in order to clearly instruct states what they must provide. It supported retention of the term “affordable” in 28(2)(a) and “women and girls” in 28(2)(b). These references are especially important for developing countries. It suggested deleting “living in situations of poverty” in 28(2)(c), asserting that the line between who is rich and who is poor is not clear and states could insist that people do have the means to provide for themselves. These services should be available to all, just as free primary education is available to all, regardless of financial standing.
MDRI called for the article to be bifurcated into two: one on social security and the other on adequate standard of living. This is a position that had been advocated by many delegations and is consistent with the ICESCR. In response to Colombia’s proposal regarding pensions, MDRI asserted that lower life expectancy among PWD is, in most cases, not due to disability itself but rather neglect and lack of support. However, it supported the first part of the proposal to ensure that PWD have access to these programmes.
The Chair noted a high level of consensus for the article as drafted but that some proposals had generated good support. The Chair summarized the discussion as follows:
• The term “social protection” was recommended by the facilitator
of this article and has been used in other UN contexts, but it was clear that
there lacked a solid degree of comfort with the term and no degree of support
for any alternative terms. “Social security” may be too narrow
as it would apply only to the rights of working PWD. The Chair suggested that
delegates consult informally on a compromise term, and encouraged the facilitator
to help generate consensus.
• In terms of Canada’s comment regarding the use of “recognize” in 28(1), the Chair noted that it is a term used in Articles 6 and 15 of CRC, although there is inconsistency throughout the body of human rights law. This is a drafting rather than a substantive issue.
• The Chair pointed out that in 28(1) the use of “persons” does not mirror ICESCR’s use of “every person,” but is nevertheless consistent with other articles of the draft convention. The issue was raised by Russia, among others, and delegates may want to reflect on it further.
• In terms of elaborating what is meant by “adequate standard of living”, the Chair noted that in the ICESCR, there is reference to food, clothing, and housing, and urged delegations to accept the text of 28(1) as it is consistent with prior usage.
• The “clean water” language is consistent with CEDAW and thus strong consideration should be given to its retention. However, the suggestion to move the reference from the chapeau of 28(1) to 28(2) may be a good one.
• The Chair recalled various proposals to split the article but stated that none of these proposals seemed to have much support, and so the present structure would be kept.
• The Chair recalled a structural proposal to change the language at the end of the chapeau to 28(2) and in the following subparagraphs, but noted that it did not have much support.
• The Chair recalled that the issue of costs was discussed with respect to 28(2)(a) and asserted that the reference should be kept since it is consistent with other articles of the draft convention. He further noted a reasonable degree of support for the text as drafted.
• The Chair noted a proposal to amend the language at the end of 28(2)(a) to make it consistent with Article 19, and emphasized the need for internal consistency in the draft convention.
• With regard to the language in brackets in 28(2)(b), the Chair acknowledged the lack of consensus and suggested waiting for a recommendation from the facilitator.
• The Chair noted strong consensus on the proposal to change “strategies” to “programmes” in 28(2)(b).
• With regard to 28(2)(c), there was agreement to change “to cover” with “with” in reference to “disability-related expenses.” Retaining the reference to families was also well supported. There was concern that the bracketed language is too restrictive. The balance of delegations supported deletion of the last phrase of the paragraph. Many noted that the concept of autonomy is missing from the article and should be incorporated in this paragraph.
• On the housing issue in 28(2)(d), the Chair suggested that many concerns may stem from translation issues since the paragraph is clear in the English text. Delegations should consult informally on this.
• The Chair took noted Colombia’s proposal to include a provision on pensions, which several delegations reacted to positively in principle. The proposal was introduced rather late in the discussion but, given the support it generated, should still be included.
Article 29: Participation in political and public life
The Chair noted that although there are some minor issues,
this article seems pretty well settled thanks to extensive discussion at the
sixth session. Written proposals had been received from the EU (http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/enable/rights/ahc7docs/ahc7eu1.doc)
and the IDC (http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/enable/rights/ahc7docs/ahc7idcchairamend1.doc)
and the IDC Women’s Caucus (http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/enable/rights/ahc7docs/ahc7widcart29.doc)
Canada endorsed the IDC’s proposal to add the term “inter alia” to the chapeau of the article. The proposed new 29(c) was interesting but may be more appropriate in the context of general obligations in Article 4. Additionally, Canada raised the issue that “national laws of general application” in 29(a) may cause complications for states with federal systems of government, and wondered if it could be removed without reducing the article’s effect. If it is retained, “national” should be deleted.
The Chair agreed that IDC’s proposed 29(c) may be more appropriate in Article 4 instead. The reason for placing cross-cutting issues in Article 4 is to avoid overloading the remainder of individual articles.
Mali supported the provision in 29(a)(iii) that calls for PWD to be allowed to designate a representative to assist in voting. Mali urged caution to distinguish between political and non-political DPOs 29(b)(ii), and suggested that this text be deleted.
Serbia and Montenegro echoed Canada’s views and looked forward to an EU proposed amendment to 29(a)(ii).
Trinidad and Tobago echoed Canada’s concerns regarding “national laws of general application” in 29(a) in respect of federal systems. It proposed adding a reference to reasonable accommodation in 29(a)(i) even though it is covered in the general obligations. Also, taking into account different voting procedures in some states, 29(a)(ii) should allow, in addition to secret ballot, other forms of voting in accordance with the law. It should also clarify that this applies to all elections.
Yemen expressed satisfaction with the text, however in 29(a)(iii), “guaranteeing” should be changed to “abiding by.” With regard to Canada’s concerns, Yemen agreed with the proposal to delete “national” from 29(a). Also, the secret ballot provision in 29(a)(ii) should be either be deleted or expanded to allow for other forms stipulated by law.
The Chair noted that voting by secret ballot is specifically called for in article 25(b) of the ICCPR, without qualification. Also, the term “national laws of general application” in 29(a) was added to allow states to distinguish between citizens and non-citizens, and to ensure that non-citizens with disabilities are not afforded the same electoral rights as citizens who do not have disabilities. The language is intended to give PWD access on an equal basis with others.
The Russian Federation stated that the term “on an equal basis with others” may be an acceptable substitute to take into account both Canada’s concerns and the citizenship issue. With regard to the EU proposal, Russia pointed out the need in 29(b)(i) to distinguish between true NGOs and political parties that seek to become part of the government.
The Chair agreed with the need to specifically distinguish political parties from NGOs.
Uganda supported the IDC’s proposal to add “inter alia.” It suggested that “the opportunity” be also added to 29(a).
China expressed satisfaction overall with the article. To address Canada’s concerns, the term “applicable” could be substituted for “national” in 29(a). China supported Trinidad and Tobago’s proposal to add to 29(a)(ii) a provision to allow for other lawful methods of voting besides secret ballot.
Qatar agreed to the deletion of “national” in 29(a).
Islamic Republic of Iran supported the IDC’s proposal to add “inter alia” to 29(a) and the proposal to delete the reference to secret ballot in 29(a)(ii). Iran supported the Russian Federation’s intervention regarding NGOs versus political parties and requested that it provide a proposal in writing for further examination.
Austria, on behalf of the EU, was flexible regarding adding “inter alia” to 29(a). In 29(a)(ii) “effectively”” should be added before for “hold office” and “facilitating the use of assistive and new technologies where appropriate.” should be added to the end of the sentence in order to ensure that PWD who hold office have access to reasonable accommodations in the performance of their jobs. As for 29(a)(iii), procedures in some countries call for the state to assign an assistant to enable PWD to vote, instead of having PWD themselves choose a representative. Therefore, text should conclude after “allowing assistance in voting” to allow for this possibility. With regard to the IDC’s proposed 29(c), the EU agreed that it already covered in Article 4. The EU suggested that the article be relocated in the convention to be closer to 12 and 13, which also address civil and political rights.
The Chair replied that the physical placement of articles throughout the draft convention represented a deliberate mingling of civil and political rights in relation to economic and social rights. This was to avoid a sense of hierarchy of rights, and is the same approach taken in CEDAW. Also, the provision in 29(a)(iii) calling for PWD to choose their assistants is drawn from Article 25 of the ICCPR and General Comment 25 (see UN document HRI/Gen/1/rev7, page 167).
The US expressed strong opposition to deletion of the secret ballot provision in 29(a)(ii). It supported the IDC’s proposal to add “inter alia” to 29(a). The US agreed with the EU’s proposal to delete the reference to “national laws of general application” from 29(a). It also supported the EU additions to 29(a)(ii), but clarified that it interpreted the addition of “effectively” to “hold office” to relate to reasonable accommodations and not a call for quotas. Regarding the EU’s proposal to delete from 29(a)(iii) the term “by a person of their own choice,” the US would support it with the understanding that deletion would not exclude the possibility of such assistance. The US believed that the Russian Federation proposal for 29(b)(i) inadvertently eliminated the word “activities” and that it should be reincorporated.
Japan echoed the US desire to retain the secret ballot provision in 29(a)(ii). Also, with respect to 29(b), Japan stated that it is not government’s role to encourage people to join political parties or NGOs. It agreed with the view that the IDC proposal to 29(c) is already covered in Article 4. It preferred to use the term “citizens” in 29(a) but could be flexible because the chapeau states “on an equal basis with others.” It noted that CEDAW Article 7 refers to “women” and not “female citizens.”
Jamaica echoed support for retaining the secret ballot provision in 29(a)(ii). It asserted that unwanted influence is a risk when PWD vote with any assigned representative – no matter who chooses that person - so the individual choice of representative should be kept in 29(a)(iii).
Chile proposed the addition in 29(a)(i) of the idea of access to electoral campaigns and campaign materials, because this information is essential to civic participation and voting. Also in 29(a)(ii), the term “public administration” should be used in order to be consistent with ICCPR Article 25.
Syrian Arab Republic supported the proposal to delete “national” from 29(a) and retaining “laws of general application.” Also, in 29(a)(ii) “to ensure the necessary means to this end” after “secret ballot” Syria supported Jamaica’s comments on the individual choice of assistance in 29(a)(iii).
Brazil supported adding “inter alia” in 29(a) and retaining “by a person of their own choice” in 29(a)(iii). Brazil agreed with Chile’s proposal to add language regarding accessibility of information in electoral campaigns, noting the example of closed captioning on political parties’ television programmes or sign language at political events.
Singapore supported the EU’s proposal to delete the reference to “by a person of their own choice” in 29(a)(iii). The assistance can be provided by an appointed non-partisan official.
Mexico supported the deletion of “national” in 29(a) to better accommodate states with federal systems.
Yemen pointed out that even though there may be a danger of undue influence or vote switching when PWD choose their own voting assistant, their right to choose is a matter of independence. PWD should be independent to make their own choice even though the risk exists. Yemen stated that the secret ballot provision should be deleted in order to make the text as general as possible. However, it would accept a change in 29(a)(ii) to “by secret ballot or any other electoral procedure in accordance with applicable law.”
NHRI supported the proposal to ensure access to electoral campaign information, since campaigns are the gateway for both PWD candidates and voters to participate in the electoral system.
The IDC thanked states that supported its addition of “inter alia” in 29(a) and expressed support for retaining the secret ballot provision, retaining the individual choice provision, and for the mingled placement of articles. IDC supported the deletion of “national laws of general application” or, at least, the deletion of “national” in 29(a) to accommodate states with federal systems. IDC also agreed to the Russian Federation’s proposal for 29(b)(i) but supported the amendment to it proposed by the US. With regard to its proposed 29(c), IDC elaborated that the right to participation expressed in Article 4 is in relation to other specific issues, but that the dimension of the right to participate as citizens in this context is missing in the text. It would be flexible if others preferred to incorporate this concept in Article 4, rather than accepting its proposal to 29(c).
The IDC Women’s Caucus noted that women’s participation in political and public life worldwide is minimal, not because women do not want to participate but because they are not elected or put on electoral lists. It noted that organizations of PWD are mostly run by men, and few mainstream women’s organizations take into account PWD. Despite the 1995 Beijing Platform for Action recommendation for leadership training to encourage and assist women and girls to pursue leadership positions, last year’s Beijing Review revealed that most countries had done nothing in this regard. In addition, CEDAW’s expert committees have failed to examine issues of women PWD. The Women’s Caucus asserted that secret ballot practices affect women with disabilities disproportionately, as male family members often take over their rights when they require support as PWD. A political paradigm shift and the achievement of true equality will never take hold unless women with disabilities have the chance to participate in political and public life. The representative then reviewed the suggestions in its written proposal.
The British Council of Disabled People disagreed with Japan’s point that it is not the role of government to increase participation in civil society. For example, trade unions are largely closed to PWD because they are not working. In the UK, much effort has been directed toward ensuring that trade unions take disability seriously and non-discrimination legislation has been passed to address this. As a result, all major UK trade unions now have a section for disabled members that develop policy which feeds into unions’ national level activities. There are also union programmes in place to provide training and promote awareness of PWD in the workplace. This is an example of the government taking steps to ensure that voluntary private organizations do not discriminate against PWD. Therefore, the inclusion of the language in 29(b)(i) should be retained. The representative noted that results such as those from his example are what are necessary to promote successful implementation of the convention.
The Chair summarized the discussion as follows:
• The issue of “national laws of general application” required
a generic solution as it also arises in other articles of the convention.
• There was widespread support for adding “inter alia” in 29(a).
• The Chair pointed out that even though it was contentious here, the issue of secret ballots is addressed in the ICCPR. The Chair encouraged delegations to consult further on this issue.
• The proposals to add “effectively” before “hold office” to 29(a)(ii) and to add “facilitating the use of assistive and new technologies where appropriate” seemed to have wide support.
• The Chair encouraged delegations to consult further on the language “by a persons of their own choice” in 29(a)(iii) as there was a divergence of views on this subject.
• The proposal to delete “where necessary” in 29(a)(iii) did not receive wide support.
• The Chair suggested that the simplest solution to the issue of including political parties in 29(b)(i) may be to replace “including” with “and.”
• The IDC’s proposed 29(c) received some support but all delegations seemed flexible on placement and the Chair noted that it would be address during the discussion on Article 4.
The Chair then returned to the question of access to electoral campaigns and campaign materials. He reminded the committee of the example given by Brazil, and said that although he did not envision the proposal to require a sign language interpreter whenever a candidate appears on a street corner, or something similarly far-reaching, it could be interpreted as such. It is in a political party’s own interest to make its materials accessible to PWD because PWD are a large part of the electorate. The Chair asked if the proposal could be qualified so that its reach would not be so broad as to impede campaigns and invited Chile and Brazil to respond.
Chile replied that although it is in political parties’ own interest to make information available in accessible formats, in practice this is not done. There is widespread absenteeism among PWD eligible to vote. Accessible information is essential to participating in democracy. The Chair asked if all electoral information should be made available or only some. Chile responded by saying freedom of information is a right and cannot be subdivided. The leaders of a political party must be responsible for providing accessible information to PWD as an intrinsic part of the campaign.
Brazil responded by stating that making information accessible should be dealt with progressively, starting with mass media outlets such as television and websites.
The Chair thanked the delegations for elaborating on the proposal.
Special presentation by El Salvador
El Salvador provided a video presentation inviting delegates to the Latin American Special Olympics in April 2006. El Salvador noted that the government is in full support of hosting the games and that the First Lady of El Salvador serves as president of the organizing committee. Additionally, funds from several government ministries have been allocated to host the games, although some national teams are relying on private sector donations to travel to El Salvador. The presentation was made to encourage PWD to participate in sports.
Article 30: Participation in cultural life, recreation, leisure and sport
The Chair noted that this article was discussed at previous sessions without controversy. The Chair noted receipt of proposals from Kenya (http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/enable/rights/ahc7kenya.htm) and the IDC (http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/enable/rights/ahc7docs/ahc7idcchairamend1.doc).
Canada observed that 30(1) and 30(3) have implications for intellectual property laws, and suggested consultation and guidance from the World Intellectual Property Organization. Canada also recommended the deletion of “all appropriate” in 30(1).
Japan echoed Canada’s concerns regarding intellectual property rights and suggested that the last clause of 30(3) be replaced with “in accordance with international law.”
China remarked that 30(1)(a) is the first instance of the expression “cultural materials,” and asked the Chair for further explanation. With regard to 30(3), China supported retaining the text as is. With regard to 30(4), China was of the view that reference to sign language and deaf culture should be deleted so as not to disparage other forms of cultural identity of PWD.
The Chair was unable to fully explain the expression “cultural materials” and invited other delegations to offer their interpretations. Regarding 30(4), the Chair also invited other delegations to consult with China on the implications of a specific mention of deaf culture.
The meeting was adjourned.
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