1. National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) from the Commonwealth and Asia Pacific region, consisting of NHRIs from Afghanistan, Australia, Fiji, Ghana, India, Iran, Republic of Korea, Malawi, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mongolia, Nepal, New Zealand, Nigeria, Northern Ireland, Philippines, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Uganda, met in New Delhi, India from 26th to 29th May 2003 to discuss a proposal to develop a comprehensive and integral United Nations Convention to promote and protect the rights of persons with disabilities.
2. The workshop participants expressed their gratitude to the National Human Rights Commission of India for hosting and organising the workshop in partnership with the Asia Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions, the British Council and the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and to the United Kingdom Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights for their financial support.
3. Participation also included representatives from governments, non-governmental organisations, international agencies and experts working in the field of human rights and disability.
4. Dr Justice A.S. Anand, Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission of India and the Chairperson of the Asia Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions, Dr Morna Nance, Acting Director, British Council India and Mr Orest Nowosad, United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, spoke at the inaugural session. In their statements the distinguished speakers highlighted the important role of national human rights institutions in protecting and promoting the human rights and dignity of persons with disabilities and in the possible development of a proposed new United Nations Convention in this respect.
5. The workshop held nine working sessions relating to various aspects of the rights of persons with disabilities. It considered, inter alia, country papers on the impact of national legislation and administrative practice; the role of NHRIs in promoting the rights of persons with disabilities; "mainstreaming disability" - experiences of UN Conventions (hard instruments); existing (soft) UN instruments relevant to disability; international monitoring mechanisms and complaints procedures; the nature and key elements of the proposed new Convention on disability - perceptions of NHRIs and NGOs; and partnership strategies for action in the lead up to the new UN Convention.
6. Following detailed discussions on each of the above matters, the workshop adopts the following preliminary conclusions and recommendations to the Ad Hoc Committee. These are without prejudice to the more detailed positions that NHRIs may adopt, individually or jointly, as work on the new Convention proceeds.
Conclusions and Recommendations to the Ad Hoc Committee adopted by the New Delhi Workshop
The NHRIs present at the workshop from the Commonwealth and Asia Pacific region:
7. Welcome the decision of the United Nations General Assembly to establish an Ad Hoc Committee to consider proposals for a comprehensive and integral international convention to promote and protect the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities (the Convention).
8. Welcome the decision of the Ad Hoc Committee to specifically invite NHRIs to participate in their work and agree to respond positively to the invitation and to make available suggestions and proposals to be considered in the development of the proposed Convention.
9. Request the United Nations and the Ad Hoc Committee to take the necessary measures to ensure the participation of persons with disabilities in their activities and ensure the widest possible participation of organisations of persons with disabilities.
10. Strongly affirm the need for the development of a comprehensive and integral Convention.
11. Stress that the Convention should be a 'rights based' instrument built on international human rights norms and standards and social justice. It should be informed by the overarching principle that all persons with disabilities, without exception, are entitled to the full benefit and enjoyment of all fundamental human rights and freedoms on the basis of equality, dignity and without discrimination.
12. Stress that the situation of all disability groups and the diverse conditions related to gender, race, colour, age, ethnicity and other considerations must be taken into account when elaborating the Convention.
13. Propose that the following elements should be included in the proposed Convention.
14. The Preamble to the Convention should:
15. The objectives of the Convention should:
16. With regard to the definition of 'disability' the Convention should:
17. With regard to the definition of 'discrimination' the Convention should:
18. The Convention shall apply both to public and private institutions and spheres.
State Party Obligations
19. The Convention should place a positive obligation on State Parties to take legislative, programmatic and policy actions to achieve the Convention's objectives.
20. The Convention should recognise the responsibility of State Parties to ensure an enabling environment and a barrier free society.
21. The full range of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights contained in existing international human rights instruments should be incorporated in the Convention.
22. In addition to the application of existing international human rights law, the Convention should contain specific articles dealing with specialised areas and issues relating to civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights that, by the very nature of the context of disability, require codification, with due respect being paid to the principles of natural justice.
23. The Convention should have an effective monitoring mechanism which includes the possibility of conducting inquiries into systemic violations.
24. Any expert committee established under the Convention should include persons with disabilities.
25. The Convention should include national institutional frameworks to monitor and promote compliance with the Convention, in which NHRIs can play a constructive role.