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Back to: Third Session of the Ad Hoc Committee
Daily summary of discussions

Daily summary of discussions related to Article 2

UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities
Third session of the Ad Hoc Committee - Daily Summary
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Volume 4, #1
May 24, 2004

Commenced: 10:28 AM
Adjourned: 12:56 PM

Ireland, speaking for the EU, expressed general agreement with Article 2, but suggested new wording for (c). In place of “full inclusion of persons with disabilities as equal citizens and participants in all aspects of life”; the EU’s suggested wording is “full and effective participation and inclusion in society on an equal basis for PWD.” EU also proposed a new paragraph 2 (bis) based on CRC, Article 4. 2 (bis) wording: “States parties shall undertake all appropriate legislative, administrative and other means for the implementation of the present Convention. With regard to economic, social, and cultural rights, States parties shall undertake such measures to maximum extent of their available resources and where needed within the framework of international cooperation.” This would reflect the conviction that while parts of the Convention may need to be implemented progressively, much of this Convention should not be progressive, for example, non-discrimination.

Mali suggested a new paragraph (f) to make reference to international cooperation. It is a fundamental principle of this Convention, and includes both north-to-south cooperation and south-to-south cooperation.

Japan agreed in principle with the EU. In order to make clear the differentiations among paragraphs, the first sentence of Article 2 should be changed to: “In their actions to achieve the objective of the Convention and to implement its provisions, the parties shall be guided inter alia by the following fundamental principles:”

Sierra Leone expressed acceptance of the original wording. The EU proposal for 2 (bis) should be under obligations, Article 4. Principles are different from obligations.

Canada supported Korea’s idea of equality of men and women. It suggested adding a new paragraph entitled “Equality between men and women.”

Kenya advocated including the indivisibility and interdependence of human rights in Article 2 as well as affirmative action to correct the disadvantages which continually happen to PWD.

Sudan agreed with Sierra Leone that the EU's proposed 2 (bis) should be addressed in obligations, not principles. It also agreed with Mali that international cooperation should be placed under general principles. International cooperation would be one of the most serious, difficult, and important topics addressed by the Committee.

Ireland replied to Sierra Leone and Sudan regarding the EU’s position on 2 (bis). It wants 2 (bis) under this article or as a new article. It does not want it under “general obligations” because the whole Convention creates general obligations on States. The practice in international human rights instruments is not to have titles on the Articles. The EU has made large changes to Article 4 which will be discussed when Article 4 is discussed. It commented that although it supported equality for men and women, it is against putting this in Article 2. This may be better placed in the Preamble.

India supported putting 2 (bis) under this article or separate article because it is based on the principle of best endeavor and progressive realization. It called for the additional recognition that “special attention will be paid to the situation of persons with severe and intellectual and multiple disabilities” and “the social model would be preferred over medical model.”

Jordan stated that general principles should be precise. It suggested several one word phrases such as acceptance, cooperation, self determination, equality, and empowerment. This Article needs to have positive statements.

Mexico supported the new wording of (c) by the EU and agreed that 2 (bis) is relevant, but should be in Article 4, general obligations. It also supported inclusion of equality between men and women or a gender perspective. It proposed an amendment to paragraph (d), adding human dignity instead of diversity. This paragraph would now read: “respect for difference and acceptance of disability as part of human diversity and humanity.”

Costa Rica agreed that gender is important so the Convention should include it either in general principles or preamble. It also supported the new words of 2(c), emphasizing that participation and inclusion are important. It supported 2 (bis), but not in this article. In 2(a), it proposed instead of “independence of persons,” the phrase “independent life of persons.” Independent living is a known term, and while no one is independent, under certain conditions a person can enjoy an independent life. In addition, Costa Rica suggested adding “personal development at all stages of life” because such language would be less likely “to infantilize” PWD.

South Africa supported the original wording with the five items and all additional proposed items. It proposed adding a new paragraph on accessibility. Accessibility and universal design (Article 19) are essential to the Convention and will help States shift paradigms. It supported Mexico’s amendment changing humanity to human dignity. It also supported the EU proposal 2 (bis), but urged moving it to general obligations.

Eritrea supported addressing international cooperation in another part of the Convention.

Japan suggested a new paragraph for Article 2, addressing the realization of barrier-free environments. This will add a social dimension to the Convention.

Russian Federation stated that the first part of the EU proposal, 2 (bis), is redundant because once signed, States must take all appropriate action to implement the Convention. In addition, a paragraph about the equality between men and women was also superfluous, because it is already covered by the general prohibition against discrimination.

Norway affirmed that gender equality is an important concept to include in the Convention, although its exact placement is yet to be determined.

Liechtenstein asked what is meant by general principles, and offered the response that these are principles which would be helpful in the interpretation and the application of the specific articles of the Convention. The Principles should be relevant and applicable to all substantive Articles, and their language should be tested against the Articles. They should not be purposes.

Thailand would like to include self-determination in the general principles. It is articulated in several national laws. It supported the EU amendment (c), but would add at the end “in all aspects of life.” It supported the content of 2 (bis). It suggested a new paragraph “disability-inclusive international cooperation." This is not new international cooperation, but that disability is included in all international cooperation. Access and universal design should be another general principle even though it is separate Article.

India proposed affirming the social model in the general principles; this includes accessibility, barrier-free environments, and redressing any circumstance which prevents a person from participating in society and living in dignity. It suggested adding to Article 2 that the social model will be preferred over the medical model and that affirmative action can used to address inequality or disadvantage.

Next the floor was opened for comments from NGOs.

Association of Community Legal Centers supported the text as currently drafted with this addition: “(f) protection from exploitation, violence, victimization, abuse, harassment, and neglect, and (g) the right of survival and to realize full potential.” PWD are subject to increased risk of abuse, especially women, children, and people with multiple disabilities. The lives of PWD are valued less and therefore fewer medical and social interventions are given to PWD. PWD must be given the protection and resources to realize their full potential.

National Human Rights Institutions suggested adding in 2(a) “respect for human” before the word “dignity.” In 2(b). It suggested adding non-sexism to non-discrimination. It urged that 2(e) should read “equality of opportunities,” instead of “equality of opportunity.” It supported access and universal design and suggested adding the principle of reasonable accommodation. All human rights are indivisible, interdependent and interrelated.

International Disability Convention Solidarity in Korea suggested adding self representation to general principles. No one should speak for PWD; PWD should speak for themselves.

World Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry (WNUSP) and the World Blind Union (WBU) suggested an addition to 2(a): “dignity, individual autonomy, including the freedom to make one’s own choices through individual self-determination, and independence of persons.”

Commenced: 3:06 pm
Adjourned: 6 pm


No other delegates wished to intervene on Article 2. Inclusion International (II) and World Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry (WNUSP) expressed the view that it was not appropriate to single out one or two disabilities, or create negative labeling by focusing on the severity of disability.

Volume 4, #9
June 4, 2004

Commenced: 10:17 AM
Recessed for informals: 10:48 AM
Reconvened: 11:15 AM
Adjourned: 12:55 PM

Procedural issues regarding the negotiating text for these last 2 sessions were discussed at length. The Committee reached consensus to proceed with the postponed reading of the Preamble of the WG draft text, instead of Articles 1 and 2 of the “Non-paper” titled Consolidation of proposals for Articles 1 and 2 of the Draft Text of the WG of the AHC (henceforth: “Consolidated Text”).

The Chair drew the attention of the Committee to Article 1, Purpose, of the Consolidated Text, and the Proposed Modifications to the WG Text from which the Consolidated Text had been formulated by a technical group. The Chair presented the Committee with 2 options: to send the Consolidated Text to their home capitals for review, or to proceed with comments on this Text at this time.

Ireland, on behalf of the European Union (EU) noted while the Consolidated Text will be reviewed carefully by the EU, it had some preliminary reactions to this. It reiterated its preference for retaining the language in the WG draft text, because to “ensure,” is stronger than to “promote, protect and fulfill” the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights. Furthermore, grammatically, the “enjoyment” of rights cannot be “fulfilled.”

South Africa, on behalf of Africa Group, called for the consideration of items which were deferred until the next AHC meeting, such as the Preamble, Monitoring, or structure. It needed to consult its capital “before it can endorse a new process”. In taking this position it highlighted the Group’s firm support for this Convention process since its inception, when there was less consensus from other states.

Ireland (EU) took the position that the previous day's decision to conclude this third session of the AHC with discussion of Article 1 and 2 of the Consolidated Text should be followed. It is important to take the negotiation process beyond what had already been achieved in this first reading so as to make progress. The Committee had decided to defer consideration of the Preamble and Monitoring topics until the August AHC. It is inappropriate and counterproductive to change yesterday’s decision.

Sierra Leone supported South Africa's proposal, without prejudice to any other decisions made, because it views the Preamble as vital. The AHC should at this stage take comments and amendments on the Preamble, complete this, and proceed with a second reading in August.

Israel supported South Africa’s proposal and favored proceeding with the remainder of the Draft Text of the WG, especially Monitoring, the most important part of the Convention. It requests reconsideration of yesterday’s decision to create momentum to advance this Convention.

Japan requested the Chair confer with the Bureau and come to a decision, in order to avoid wasting time in the Committee discussing procedural issues.

Mexico stated that yesterday’s decision to defer six major clusters (title, structure, preamble, definitions, monitoring mechanism, and final clauses) was not objected to by any delegation. It is not prepared to discuss these issues since they were deferred. Yesterday’s sole issue was whether today’s meeting would be open or closed to NGOs. No one questioned the Chair’s proposal to begin negotiations of Article 1 and 2. It does not support suspension of the meeting so that the Bureau may meet yet again. The decision has been made to discuss Article 1 and 2. It was now up to the Chair.

Russian Federation supported South Africa’s proposal because States must take the first reading back to their capitals to analyze language.

Burkina Faso supported South Africa because the AHC decided, on the first day, to return later to the preamble, monitoring and structure.

Syria also supported South Africa because it has received no direction from its capital about the Articles already discussed.

Jordan believed it was important to discuss Articles 1 and 2 as practice for next session as had been decided yesterday. Some delegations have left. It inquired as to why States wanted input from their capitals at this point because everything must be taken back. Discussing procedural issues was taking up valuable time.

China favored a discussion of Articles 1 and 2 at this session but expressed sympathy for South Africa’s proposal. The text is new to many delegations. It hoped the Chair would consult the Bureau to make future work go smoothly.

India agreed with South Africa’s proposal because it believes it would be difficult to return to Articles 1 and 2 without discussing all of the Convention first, including monitoring which is key to implementation. It also needs to take the Proposed Modifications back to its government before a second reading.

Yemen pointed out that it would take more time than the AHC now has to discuss all the deferred issues. It is ready to take part in any discussions, but some delegations have left so a full input from the Committee would not be possible.

Eritrea supported South Africa and called on the AHC to use its time fruitfully and end on a positive note.

Zambia also supported South Africa's proposal.

The Chair recessed to convene a meeting of the Bureau aimed at reconciling these 2 views. Based on the majority support for South Africa's proposal, the Bureau requested that the Committee rescind yesterday’s decision to postpone the Preamble discussion, and join in a consensus so that today’s work could move forward.

Mexico supported the Chair’s original decision and will support today’s new decision. However, it expressed frustration with the change in direction and the lack of consensus. It noted that it could not participate meaningfully in today’s discussion due to lack of notice and preparation.

Cuba supported the Chair’s proposal to move forward. It also requested cessation of procedural discussions and future procedural clarity to avoid waste of time and financial resources. It stressed the importance of finalizing the work in the time allotted.

Yemen supported any decision made by the Chair. However, discussing the Preamble today would not be efficient and, because many delegations have left or have not had time to prepare, it would prevent full participation on an important part of the Convention.

Israel supported continuing work on the Preamble as proposed by the Chair, which might be difficult but would move the work forward.

South Africa concurred that it was important to move the work forward. It stated: “The African Group has no other agenda except to ensure that finally PWD can enjoy their full human rights.”

EU expressed concern about the lengthy procedural discussion, and the fact that some delegations have left when the AHC was still continuing its work. It agreed to work on the Preamble in the interest of progress, but expressed a preference for discussing Articles 1 and 2 as agreed in the last session. It still insists that NGOs be allowed to participate in discussions about Articles 1 and 2 and other matters.

Costa Rica supported the Chair, but expressed deep concern about the decision. While ready to discuss the Preamble, Costa Rica had concerns that reversing yesterday’s decision sets a precedent of making exceptions to the rule on a procedural matter.

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