Skip navigation links Sitemap | About us | FAQs

UN Programme on Disability   Working for full participation and equality

ADHOC COMMITTEE ON
AN INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION

Documents and contributions
NGO Participation

Statement

Panel II
The Principle of Non-Discrimination and Equality from a Disability Perspective: Critical issues concerning Special Measures and Disability

SECOND SESSION OF THE AD HOC COMMITTEE ON A COMPREHENSIVE AND INTEGRAL INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION ON PROTECTION AND PROMOTION OF THE RIGHTS OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES
New York, 16 to 27 June 2003

European Union Background Paper


The European Union believes that the question of discrimination is one of the core issues to address in a disability-related discussion. As has already been stressed on numerous occasions it is clear that existing human rights provisions on, inter alia non- discrimination, apply to persons with disabilities as they apply to all human beings. Yet regretfully, persons with disabilities are not always in a position to fully and equally enjoy their human rights. Important reasons being discriminatory practices and lack of accommodation and accessibility.

The principles of equality and non-discrimination are interdependent. Discrimination in its different forms represents a violation of the principle of the equal worth of all persons. The enjoyment of rights and freedoms on an equal footing does not however, mean identical treatment in every instance. Identical treatment is not a means in itself, and sometimes preferential treatment or affirmative action may be necessary in order to ensure respect for the principle of equality and to diminish or eliminate conditions which cause or help to maintain unjustified discrimination. Therefore it is appropriate to talk about differential treatment in relation to unjustified discrimination.

The work to combat and prevent discrimination must be performed through a number of different measures at all levels and in all sectors of society. Such measures should include legislative, social policy programmes as well as awareness-raising measures. So that persons with disabilities with disabilities can live an integrated, autonomous and independent life on an equal basis with other individuals.

It is not sufficient to address only the issue of discrimination without looking at existing and potential physical and social barriers, and their relation to accessibility and equality. Such barriers include structural exclusion, exclusion from participating in every-day life and employment and social attitudes.

Moreover, due recognition should be taken to the fact that some groups of persons with disabilities are often in a position that makes them more vulnerable than others, and thus more susceptible to discrimination. As has been noted, persons with disabilities are often viewed as genderless human beings whereby women with disabilities may be more easily exerted to double discrimination. Other grounds for discrimination which may induce multiple discrimination directed at persons with disabilities include racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, age or sexual orientation. In order to ensure that persons with disabilities can fully enjoy their human rights, due account should be taken to the complexities of multiple discrimination.

Another interesting aspect is the scope of states' human rights obligations in relation to the public and private spheres of society. As an example of relatively far-reaching requirements on states', CEDAW (art 2.e) can be mentioned as imposing an obligation on states to adopt measures to eliminate discrimination against women by any person, organisation or enterprise. This dimension will require further consideration when considering elements for a convention on the rights of persons with disabilities.

17 June 2003

Return to top


Home | Sitemap | About us | News | FAQs | Contact us

United Nations, 2003-04
Department of Economic and Social Affairs
Division for Social Policy and Development