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Agenda item 7
Contributions to proposals for a comprehensive and integral international convention on the protection and promotion of the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities

New York, 16 to 27 June 2003

H. E. Ambassador Luiz Tupy Caldas de Moura
Deputy Permanent Representative
Permanent Mission of Brazil to the United Nations

Mr. Chairman,

I wish to congratulate you and the other members of the bureau for the manner in which you have conducted the preparations for this meeting. We have benefited greatly from the expert advice and ongoing substantive debate with delegations and civil society. The two expert panel discussions on options for a convention and on the principles of non-discrimination and equality from a disability perspective were particularly useful. My delegation looks forward to the third expert Panel discussion that is scheduled for next week.

I would also like to thank the Secretariat for the documents it has prepared and for the good work of compiling several important documents.

I commend once again the delegation of Mexico for its timely initiative on the negotiation of a convention on the human rights of persons with disabilities. Brazil cosponsored resolution 56/168 which established this Ad Hoc Committee and will be actively participating in its meetings and in the ensuing international debate.

My delegation supports the negotiation of an international legally binding instrument on the human rights of persons with disabilities and considers this Committee the appropriate forum for interested parties to discuss and agree on what should be its focus, structure, content and reach.

It is high time for the international community to focus its attention on that tenth part of the world population living with some sort of disability. As a party to the Inter-American Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities, Brazil is ready to examine how to address such challenges on a global scale.

We must deal with the relative invisibility of persons with disabilities, both in society and under existing human rights instruments. An international legal instrument would provide a powerful tool to raise awareness, "empower" persons with disabilities and help remove the many forms of barriers, be they physical, social, cultural or economic that hinder their full and equal participation in society. The convention should be balanced, covering disabilities arising from all forms of impairment, be they physical, sensory, mental or other. A gender perspective is also essential.

Mr. Chairman,

An international convention on the human rights of persons with disabilities cannot revise, revoke, alter or in any way tinker with existing norms, standards and provisions as contained in the six core international human rights instruments. Consistency has to be ensured with these fundamental conventions as well as with the set of "soft law" focusing on the different dimensions of the issue, including the outcomes of the major UN conferences and summits. Such a convention must recognize the universality, indivisibility and interdependency of all human rights, including the right to development. Its aim should be to provide the necessary focus on the rights of persons with disabilities, interpret the established norms and standards in the light of the specific needs of such persons, and offer guidance to the existing human rights monitoring mechanisms, stimulating dialogue and cooperation between them.

My delegation shares the view that the "multi-track approach" proposed by the former Special Rapporteur, Mr. Bengt Lindvist, should guide our endeavour. A UN Convention on the human rights of persons with disabilities will inspire the desired mainstreaming of the disability perspective into the existing reporting procedures. It shall act as a catalytic for the implementation and strengthening of the Standard Rules on Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities, and its monitoring arrangement. It will encourage the further implementation of the World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons.

Mr. Chairman,

The linkages between poverty and disability must be acknowledged. Special attention must be given to the situation of developing countries. My delegation takes particular note of the comment by FAO that malnourishment and undernourishment are important factors in the analysis of the causes of disability. Strong provisions are necessary to help build national capacities, to support the organization of civil society and of institutions that are representative of persons with disabilities, and to stimulate academic and technical cooperation. Another key issue is how to improve and refine the available instruments to examine the situation of persons with disabilities. Accurate data is necessary to set a sound basis for the enactment of legislation and the setting in place of adequate strategies and informed public policies.

Mr. Chairman,

My delegations considers that the convention could hinge on four main objectives:

  • Eliminate discrimination against persons with disabilities in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field by all appropriate means;
  • Insure the enjoyment by persons with disabilities of all human rights and fundamental freedoms on a basis of equality with all persons. The recognition of equality implies positive actions necessary to promote the autonomy and the independence (self-sufficiency) of persons with disabilities;
  • Provide for the full integration into society of persons with disabilities, which entails focusing on all the dimensions of accessibility through measures in areas such as employment, transportation, communications, housing, recreation, education, sports and the elimination, to the extent possible, of all barriers; and
  • Promote international cooperation and assistance as well as stimulate economic, technical and scientific cooperation as a means of empowering persons with disabilities and allowing for the effective universal implementation of the Convention.

Mr. Chairman,

The negotiations that we hope will begin as soon as possible must be carried out in an open and fully democratic manner. All interested member states and observers must be engaged. It is essential that persons with disabilities, representatives of disability organizations and experts from all regions actively participate in this process and that civil society and non-governmental organizations be fully involved in the work of the Ad Hoc Committee.

Mr. Chairman,

Such an undertaking requires our full commitment, the undaunted recognition of the many challenges and obstacles that lay ahead, and the careful articulation of the consensus. Letís steadfastly build together this necessary dream.

19 June 2003

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