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Back to: Second Session of the Ad Hoc Committee
Documents of the Second Session




Ad Hoc Committee on a Comprehensive and Integral International Convention on Protection and Promotion of the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities
New York, 16-27 June 2003

South Africa to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary of the Ad Hoc Committee on a Comprehensive and Integral International Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities

The Permanent Mission of the Republic of South Africa to the United Nations presents its compliments to the Secretary of the Ad Hoc Committee on a Comprehensive and Integral International Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities and has the honour to submit the final statement of the Disability African Regional Consultative Conference, dated 6 May 2003, for circulation as a document of the second session of the Committee (see annex).


Annex to the note verbale dated 12 June 2003 from the Permanent Mission of South Africa to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary of the Ad Hoc Committee on a Comprehensive and Integral International Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities


As representatives from Disabled Persons Organisations (DPOs) and Governments from the African Continent and based on our deliberations regarding:

  1. The implementation of the African Decade on Persons with Disabilities;
  2. The participation of Persons with Disabilities in the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) and ensuring that NEPAD's policies and programmes incorporate disability issues; and
  3. The proposed United Nations Convention "Towards a Comprehensive and Integral International Convention to Promote and Protect the Rights of Persons with Disabilities".

We re-confirm that:

  1. All sectors of society, i.e. government, civil society organisations, particularly DPOs and the private sector have a critical role to play in ensuring that persons with disabilities are accorded human, political, social and economic rights as all other people.
  2. In the African context in particular, persons with disabilities are amongst the poorest of the poor. Therefore disability issues have to addressed in the context of poverty.
  3. Women with disabilities face double oppression based on their gender and their disability and that this particular oppression has to be acknowledged and focussed programmes developed to address it. The same applies to children with disabilities, youth, the aged and persons with multiple disabilities.
  4. Disability issues and the rights of persons with disabilities must be dealt with in an integrated and holistic manner.

On the African Decade

We commend the African Union (AU) for adopting the Declaration of the African Decade as a major programme of the AU and the DPOs for the role they played in motivating for, developing and ensuring the adoption of the African Decade.

We agree that the ongoing commitment of all sectors of society is fundamental to the further successful implementation of the Decade. We agree that there is a need to ensure linkages between activities ofthe African Decade and of NEPAD based on the synergies of their aims, objectives and expected outcomes. We agree on the need to establish an African Decade Secretariat that will be hosted by South Africa. We further mandate South Africa to meet with the African Rehabilitation Institute (ARI). The Pan African Federation of Disabled Persons (PAFOD) and Heads of all Continental DPOS to finalise the establishment of the Secretariat in South Africa.


We commend our African leaders and governments for committing themselves to a programme focussed on the development of the Continent and that is aimed at ensuring that Africa is recognized globally as an equal partner.

We agree that the main synergy between the African Decade and NEPAD is the focus on poverty eradication. We note with concern, that to date, that there is no reference, to persons with disabilities nor on disability in any NEPAD documents or activities, and that they have not been actively involved in NEPAD on any level.
We agree that the African disability movement will engage with the NEPAD secretariat to start a process whereby NEPAD's policies and programmes can specifically refer to disability issues; and that persons with disabilities and their representative organisations can be actively involved at all levels of NEPAD. We agree that DPOs will begin the process of auditing the skills they have to offer and the skills they require to play a meaningful role in NEPAD. We agree that the African Decade Secretariat, when it is established, will be responsible for co-ordinating with NEPAD.

Lastly we agree that in the interim, co-ordination with the NEPAD Secretariat will be led by the OSDP and DPOs in South Africa, in co-operation with ARI and Continental DPOs who will in turn report to their members.

On the proposed UN Convention "Comprehensive and Integral Convention to Promote and Protect the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities"

We commend the international community for initiating a process and discussions on developing an appropriate and relevant global response and approach to disability issues that would be binding and compulsory in its implementation.

We agree to work towards strengthening the African voice in the processes and discussions leading up to the formulation of the Convention and to collaborate, network and engage with all other role players in this regard. We agree that African governments must actively support the participation of African DPOs in national, regional, continental and international meetings on this initiative. We further agree that our contributions to the Convention must be strategic in nature, reflective of Africa's diversity, reflective of the disability movement's diversity and be premised on the principles of development, poverty reduction and a rights-based approach.


We agree that the organisers of the Conference produce a comprehensive report of this Conference, including an action plan based on our deliberations, that all representatives present will take responsibility for further dissemination of the Conference Report. The organisers will prepare a summary Africa position, based on our deliberations on the proposed UN Convention that can be tabled at the next Un Adoc Committee meeting. We agree that the process of submission will be via the office of the AU in New York. We thank South Africa for hosting this very important Conference and for the hospitality shown to all Conference participants.

We thank the South African government particularly President Mbeki and Minister Essop Pahad and the Mayor of Johannesburg for their visible show of support to disability issues, for addressing our Conference and for committing themselves to furthering the cause of disabled people. Likewise we thank the United Nations, in particular the agencies of the UN Voluntary Fund, the UN Development Program, the International Labour Organisation,, the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) DSI for their technical and financial support to the Conference which assisted with bringing together a large number of participants.

We thank the organisers for their hard work, professionalism and patience in ensuring the success of the Conference. We thank the chairpersons, facilitators and rapporteurs in assisting us to achieve our goals and outcomes. And finally we thank all those who developed and contributed to the discussions documents, speeches, questions, etc that helped to guide us in achieving our outcomes.


[1] Taken from the seminar on ICT accessibility for persons with disabilities in the Asian and Pacific Region held in Bangkok, 20-22 June 2002.

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