I have the honour to take the floor on behalf of the European Union in the debate regarding the contributions on proposals for a convention on protection and promotion of the rights of persons with disabilities. I will limit myself in this statement to some general remarks, and will revert in more detail to various aspects of the issue in subsequent interventions. The acceding countries Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, the Slovak Republic and Slovenia, the associated countries Bulgaria and Romania and the EFTA countries, members of the European Economic Area, Iceland and Norway declare that they align themselves with this statement.
Human rights and fundamental freedoms set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the core Human Rights instruments are universal and applicable to all persons without discrimination. Nevertheless, we have to admit that there still exist many obstacles that still restrain, in practice, the full enjoyment of human rights by persons with disabilities.
Action must be taken to ensure the equal and effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms by persons with disabilities. In this respect, the European Union considers that the elaboration of a convention will usefully contribute to attaining this goal.
A human rights approach to disability should not be focused on the enjoyment of specific rights or the creation of new rights, but, as already stated, about ensuring that persons with disabilities enjoy, without discrimination, equally and effectively all human rights - civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. Thus, in the view of the European Union, the object of the new convention should be to tailor existing human rights provisions to the specific circumstances faced by persons with disabilities. The European Union will in due course present a paper with elements for a convention
We would favour a text including fundamental principles that are most relevant in the context of disability: non - discrimination, equality of opportunity, autonomy, participation and integration. It is also very important to ensure that our work is fully consistent with existing human rights provisions and neither undermines nor simply duplicates them.
The advantages of elaborating a convention based on the non- discrimination model includes the recognition of the universality of human rights while simultaneously underlining the specific situation for persons with disabilities full enjoyment of all rights. By identifying areas where discrimination is likely to occur, a convention to ensure the full and equal enjoyment of rights persons with disabilities would be instrumental in giving visibility to and acknowledge the disability dimension of human rights.
The European Union firmly believes that, in order to render the new convention most effective, it should be provided with a dynamic and flexible monitoring mechanism.
The EU would like to underline the paramount importance of NGOs in the process of promoting and protecting the rights of persons with disabilities. The latter should therefore be fully involved in the process of elaboration of the new convention, and their role duly acknowledged in the text itself.
In conclusion, I would like to express the determination of the European Union to continue to play an active role in the work of the Ad Hoc Committee, in conformity with its commitment to promote and protect the rights of persons with disabilities.
In order to prepare the drafting process that needs to be undertaken by member states for the elaboration of a balanced and realistic convention, the European Union has circulated a draft resolution with the following aims:
Adoption of this resolution, Mr Chairman, will strongly contribute to an effective, inclusive and efficient drafting process, which is in the interest of us all.
Thank you Mr Chairman
18 June 2003