PRESS CONFERENCE ON DISABILITY CONVENTION BY DEPARTMENT OF ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL AFFAIRS

25 August 2006

PRESS CONFERENCE ON DISABILITY CONVENTION BY DEPARTMENT OF ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL AFFAIRS

25 August 2006
Press Conference
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Press Conference on Disability Convention by Department

 

of Economic and Social Affairs

 

With the Ad Hoc Committee working on the draft convention on the rights of persons with disabilities scheduled to conclude its work by 6 p.m. tonight, the negotiations on a new instrument were “coming right down to the wire”, Thomas Schindlmayr of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs told correspondents at a Headquarters press conference this afternoon.

Updating the press on the latest developments, he said that agreement had been reached on 25 of the convention’s 40 articles.  Delegations were also “very, very close” to reaching agreement on a number of articles.  Several minutes before, they had reached agreement on the international monitoring mechanism and an optional protocol that would allow persons with disabilities to petition the convention committee if they had exhausted all possible remedies at home.

However, several difficulties still needed to be resolved before there was final agreement on the new instrument, he continued.  The Chairman of the negotiations, Don MacKay ( New Zealand) had said the talks had “bogged down”, with some countries digging in on their positions.  At the current pace, there was a chance that the negotiations would not be completed by 6 p.m. this evening.  However, the Chairman had told the participants that agreement could be reached, but it did require determination.

Asked about the remaining sticking points in negotiations, he mentioned foreign occupation and sexual and reproductive health among the issues that were still being discussed this afternoon.  Some of them had already been discussed at the United Nations on previous occasions.  In fact, the Chair had implored the delegates to make progress in those areas, so that the Ad Hoc Committee would not have to come back for a ninth session next January.  There was nothing to be gained by coming back for another two-week session to talk about the same issues, a large number of which were not necessarily disability-related.

To a follow-up question, he said that, at this point, there was no “plan B” and there were no provisions in place for having another session in January.

Responding to a request to elaborate on the contentious issues, Mr. Schindlmayr said that article 11 of the draft convention dealt with the rights of people with disabilities in “situations of risk” to ensure that Governments had better contingency plans in place and promote a better understanding of how to deal with the needs of persons with disabilities in a risk situation.  The term “risk” could have many meanings, including armed conflict, or natural disasters.  It was under that article that a suggestion had been made that “foreign occupation” be discussed.

Regarding sexual and reproductive health, which appeared in article 25 of the draft, he said that the issue was a non-discrimination clause.  The article specified that persons with disabilities should have the same entitlement to health care, or services, as everyone else in that society.  Some countries felt that the term sexual and reproductive health was important, others did not.

To another question, he said that the convention would include a definition of a person with disabilities.  That item was still being discussed.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.