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Back to: Fourth Session of the Ad Hoc Committee
NGO Comments at the Fourth Session

Comments by NGOs at the Fourth Session
International Disability Caucus - Final Statement




Dear Chair, dear delegates,

We have come to the end of the 4th Ad Hoc Committee and we would like to present to you the views of the International Disability Caucus on the work so far and for the future.

Many of us have spent 6 weeks this year in this Conference Room 4. The first two weeks in January were really outstanding. Huge progress was achieved and a good document was prepared, which continues to be the basic reference document in the negotiations.

The 3rd and 4th Ad Hoc Committee meetings have been useful in order for all to have a better understanding of the key issues, but very little progress has been made in terms of advancing the text of the Convention.

We think that the time has come to bring this negotiation process to a good conclusion. We feel that the political will is there and we should not miss this historic opportunity.

It is more than 20 years ago that the idea of a Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities was first discussed.

Persons with disabilities all over the world are excluded from society and continue to be discriminated against in their daily lives. This Convention will put an end to that situation and we all have an obligation for this to happen now.

We completely support the statement made by Ambassador MacKay at the beginning of yesterday's session. We also urge Government delegates to be flexible in the negotiation and avoid unnecessary discussions about sometimes almost identical wordings.

If you are flexible and efficient, you can finish this task in the immediate future. You have the tools and means to achieve this objective which is an urgent need for all persons with disabilities. Allocate the required resources, establish a clear and ambitious calendar and don't allow any unnecessary delays. That is what persons with disabilities expect from you.

But of course, it is not just about having a Convention in the immediate future, but about having a Convention that adequately protects the human rights of all persons with disabilities, irrespective of type of disability and region of the world.

To achieve this, the role of disabled people's organisations (DPOs) is indispensable. Many of you have stated your appreciation of the role which DPOs have played so far in providing you with our expertise.

This active participation of DPOs has to continue to be the case.

To ensure this, increased efforts need to be made to ensure the full participation of persons with disabilities in this final stage of the process. There are still too often communication and other barriers faced by persons with disabilities, which limit our possibilities of participation. Moreover, the participation of persons with disabilities from developing countries continues to be low.

While attending the Committee meetings is costly for all DPOs, it is almost impossible for DPO representatives from the developing world.

We therefore urge Governments again to make contributions to the UN Voluntary Fund.

We offer our support and advice to ensure the adequate selection of DPO representatives, whose participation is to be covered by the Voluntary Fund, in order to ensure that we have sufficient representation from all regions and different disability groups.

We also want to remind Governments to include, in this final stage of the negotiation process, representatives from the national disability movement in the Government delegations.

Our participation is not only relevant because of the expertise we provide. The Convention text will include the obligation to involve persons with disabilities through their organisations in the implementation of the Convention. This involvement, even partnership as some Government delegates have proposed to call it, has to happen during the whole of the negotiation process and specially in this final stage of the process..

The new proposed way of working has significantly limited the participation of DPOs.

The International Disability Caucus includes 35 international, regional and national organisations representing persons with disabilities from all regions of the world and from all groups of persons with disabilities. The organizations included in the International Disability Caucus have made and are making all efforts to inform our constituencies about this process in order to ensure that the full enjoyment of all human rights of all persons with disabilities will be ensured.

The International Disability Caucus is the voice of more than 600 million persons with disabilities. We have been able to speak with one voice, bringing together the views of different groups of persons with disabilities and from the different regions of the world. This effort can't be ignored.

You as Government delegates and we as representatives of the more than 600 million of persons with disabilities want a Convention which will improve the lives of all persons with disabilities and which will therefore be welcomed and championed by all persons with disabilities.

We are aware that as for any other international Treaty, the negotiations take place among Governments. However, you have to establish a consultation mechanism with the International Disability Caucus in this negotiation process to ensure that the final Convention text will provide adequate protection of the human rights of all persons with disabilities.

As we are asking Governments to be flexible, the International Disability Caucus is flexible on concrete wording. But, as well as Governments have been asked to identify issues on which they have very strong views, the International Disability Caucus also has strong views on some issues.

There are certain issues which must be adequately addressed in order to end the exclusion and discrimination of persons with disabilities. If the International Disability Caucus says "this is not acceptable" you have to listen to us.

We are confident in you and offer you our continued partnership for this final stage of the process.


New York, the 3rd September 2004

The International Disability Caucus on the Convention

Australian Federation of Disability Organizations, Bizchut , The Israel Human Rights Center for People with Disabilities, Canadian Association for Community Living, Center for International Rehabilitation, Council for Canadians with Disabilities, Danish Organization of disabled people, Disability Australia Ltd, Disabled Peoples International, European Disability Forum, Forum of people with disabilities, Forum for Human Rights of people with disabilities - Costa Rica, Fiji Disabled People's Association, Handicap International, Inclusion International, Inter-American Institute on Disability, International Disability Convention Solidarity in Korea, Japan Disability Forum, Landmine Survivors Network, Lebanese Council of Disabled People LCDP, National Disability Party, National Association of Community Legal Centres, National Disability Council of Netherlands, People with Disability Australia Incorporated, People Who, Rehab Group, Rehabilitation International, Support Coalition International, World Blind Union, World Federation of the Deaf, World Federation of the Deafblind, World Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry, World Union for Progressive Judaism.

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