Back to: Fourth Session of the Ad Hoc Committee
Summaries of the Fourth Session
Daily summary of discussion at the fourth session
03 September 2004
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UN Convention on the Human Rights of People with Disabilities
Ad Hoc Committee - Daily Summary
A service made possible by Disabled Peoples’ International (DPI), Handicap International (HI) and the International Service for Human Rights (ISHR),
with the financial support of the Governments of Mexico and New Zealand.
Volume 5, #10
September 03, 2004
The Coordinator announced that the draft “Report of the Coordinator to the Ad Hoc Committee” will be circulated at this session before it is submitted to the Plenary this afternoon. This narrative will review key points and areas of general agreement on text in Articles 4, 5, 6, and 7. It will make clear that everything discussed here will be subject to further consideration, and this is not a final text. The purpose of this document is to make it possible for delegations to pick up from where they leave off, avoid duplication of work at future informal meetings and to provide an accurate account of the negotiations. Any factual inaccuracies need to be brought to the attention of the Coordinator at this session.
EQUALITY AND NONDISCRIMINATION – ARTICLE 7 (Contd.)
The Coordinator introduced paragraph 4 on Reasonable Accommodation (RA) by drawing the Committee’s attention to the issues raised in Footnote 27. Its lengthy nature reflects an extensive discussion in the main WG as well as open ended discussion in small groups of experts in this area. In addition to the Footnote the following issues need to be considered:  abbreviations to the paragraph, keeping in mind that the chapeau may not be value added, and that States are expected to implement their obligations through legislation as already stated in Article 4 on General Obligations;  the definition of reasonable accommodation;  the qualification to that definition at the end of the paragraph, keeping in mind the already existing qualifying language within the definition itself, of “reasonable,” “necessary” and “appropriate.”
The Netherlands (EU) outlined 4 differences between the EU text, drawn entirely from EU Directive 2078, and the WG text.  the objective in the opening should be “to guarantee compliance with the principle of equal treatment” rather than “to secure the right to equality”. However to avoid a possibly difficult debate and given the Coordinator’s recent remarks, the EU is open to deleting this opening altogether.  States Parties cannot provide reasonable accommodation as they are obligated to do in the WG text. In most cases it will be private enterprises that will be thus obligated, and not the State. The State’s role therefore is to “ensure that reasonable accommodation is provided”;  the EU text inserts “where needed in a particular case” to address the individuality of RA as highlighted in the footnote and acknowledged by delegations;  as a matter of drafting, the reference to “guarantee to PWD” should be changed “to ensure to PWD.”
Thailand supported the Coordinator’s proposal to delete the chapeau so the paragraph begins with “States Parties.” It supports the EU’s suggestion to add “to ensure that RA is provided” as governments generally provide more broad based infrastructure and public facilities that are geared to all people in an inclusive manner. In the case of private entities it is difficult to expect universal design for all, hence the need for RA. Nevertheless in some cases the State is obligated to provide some RA directly. The qualification at the end of this paragraph after “unless …” should be integrated into the definition of RA itself.
Costa Rica supported the EU text with Thailand’s suggestion to delete language at the end of the paragraph because the additional qualification here is redundant. If accommodation is reasonable, necessary and appropriate then by definition it cannot be disproportionate. There is the additional safeguard in the EU text applying the obligation to an individual case. Finally, given the requirement of the chapeau, to secure human rights, this qualification is even more unnecessary, and may imply that the human rights referred to in the chapeau is a relative and conditional, rather than absolute, concept.
Israel generally supported the EU text. However the EU’s language of “equal treatment” reflects requirements of formal equality and is not appropriate in the context of RA. RA is not about treating PWD the same way that everyone else is treated. The EU approach is fundamentally at odds with the requirements of de facto, substantive equality for PWD, which includes the duty to reasonably accommodate as a main element. The purpose of this paragraph is to define RA as part of the duty not to discriminate, that is, as part of equality. Once that definition is made clear then the chapeau of this paragraph becomes unnecessary. Following the precedent of domestic statutes, the paragraph then only needs to define RA. The duty to reasonably accommodate would already be made clear in the context of the prohibition on discrimination. Israel agrees with the EU language that States should “ensure that RA is provided” as it is clear that States themselves do not have the control of all employment frameworks and services to undertake this obligation entirely themselves. The private sector, which is on the increase in many countries, must be included where States parties have an obligation to “promote and ensure” to achieve de facto equality for PWD. For this reason there is a need to specifically reference enacting legislation, despite the overriding obligation of states to legislate as stated in Article 4. There is no other way States Parties can ensure that the duty to reasonably accommodate can be fulfilled by the private sector. Israel supports the EU’s language on meeting individualized needs of PWD. Finally, in response to Costa Rica, the paragraph needs to be redrafted so that the qualification at its end is integrated into the definition of RA, ie. RA is accommodation that does not impose a disproportionate burden. The notion of a “disproportionate burden” should be retained because it addresses the resource implications of the obligation to reasonably accommodate. Different entities have different levels of resources and there is a need to match the obligations of the employer / service provider with the level and extent of its resources and with the PWD. Accordingly Israel has proposed language further defining “disproportionate burden”, and relating it to the test of the level of state resources, as mentioned in the footnote. However Israel is flexible on the inclusion of this point.
The Coordinator enquired of Israel whether the retention of “including by legislation” may pose a problem of interpretation. This may create a negative implication for the other parts of the Convention where States are similarly obligated to take steps but without the additional obligation to legislate specified. The Coordinator again highlighted the fact that the obligation to legislate would be in Article 4. On reconsideration Israel agreed that the phrase could be omitted given that States’ obligations in this paragraph would be read in conjunction with the obligation to enact legislation in Article 4.
Serbia and Montenegro reiterated its support of the EU proposal, including the language obligating states “to ensure” rather than to provide RA, and the language to individualise RA. It welcomes the EU’s flexibility on the chapeau, which should be deleted. Debates about this opening text could be lengthy with little value added to the outcome. Serbia and Montenegro supports the Coordinator’s interpretation of the ramifications of retaining “including by legislation” and this too should be deleted. The last part of the paragraph on “disproportionate burden” could in fact be read to be a part of the definition, and should be retained, if necessary with the drafting changes to address concerns of Israel and Thailand. RA is one of the key concepts relating to PWD, like accessibility, and is drawn from a considerable body of comparative legislation. This concept should be spelled out in a way to ensure that it would remain in the Convention and that would encourage the maximum number of States to adhere to this Convention.
Norway had been agreeable with the WG text, but now supports the EU’s proposed amendments as they add nuance and precision to the original draft. The paragraph should begin simply with “States Parties” without the chapeau. The amendment proposed by Israel to relate this obligation to the availability of State funding is unnecessary and can be interpreted within the notion of proportionality already in the paragraph.
Canada agreed with the Coordinator’s proposal to delete the chapeau. It supports EU language ensuring RA is provided for the reasons given by Thailand and EU. It agrees with Israel on the need to retain the concept of “disproportionate burden”. However this language needs significant strengthening and for this reason Australia’s alternative language of “unjustifiable hardship” is preferable. Canada has no strong views on the inclusion of “including by legislation.” The idea of State funding is already captured within the definition of RA and the notion of “unjustifiable hardship,” so, like Norway, Canada considers the Israeli proposed language here unnecessary.
The Coordinator drew the attention of the Committee to the Australian language of “unjustifiable hardship,” as well as African Group text of “unreasonable difficulties” as alternatives to “disproportionate burden”. The objective is for the term to balance situations where accommodation is not reasonable with those situations where RA can and should be provided but States are given an easy way out.
The Netherlands (EU) had a strong preference for the WG wording of “disproportionate burden” but will consider the alternatives that have been proposed once it has a better sense of the rationale behind them. In response to Costa Rica, the EU asserts that the notion of proportionality is value added. It is possible for accommodation to be “necessary and appropriate” but still not be provided because it is disproportionate.
India proposed replacing the word “take” with “endeavor to ensure” so the sentence after the chapeau would now read “States Parties undertake to endeavor to ensure…” India supports the Coordinator’s proposal to delete “including by legislation” as this is incorporated in Article 4. It also supports replacing “reasonable” with “adequate,” as proposed by Costa Rica, as this latter word satisfies the criteria of reasonableness. India would support both the WG text’s wording of “disproportionate burden,” or Canada’s suggested alternative of “unjustifiable hardship”. With regard to “appropriate modifications and adjustments” it is preferable to use language to “ensure” rather than “guarantee.”
Ghana (African Group) would be the only dissenting voice calling for the retention of the chapeau, which the Group believes clearly sets out the fundamental reasons why RA should be provided for PWD. However the African Group will consider the alternative chapeau suggested by the EU. The Group believes that among all other measures legislation is an important measure to rely on to ensure that RA is addressed. The Group agrees that some caveats need to be incorporated into the notion of RA and hence the need to account for “unreasonable difficulties”.
Thailand was flexible on mentioning “including by legislation”. Either the language of “disproportionate burden” or “unreasonable difficulties” needs to be more clearly integrated into the definition of RA. As has been voiced by many disability organizations “equal footing” needs to be replaced with “on an equal basis.”
The Coordinator recalled Mexico’s previous interventions that called for the general replacement of the term “equal footing,” which has no legal meaning to “on a basis of equality with others,” and this will be considered. The Coordinator enquired from Thailand as to how the caveat to the obligation to reasonably accommodate can be integrated into the definition.
Thailand recommended that the measures that could be considered to constitute RA should be clarified to mean those that are individualized, interactive, without imposing unjustifiable hardship or disproportionate burden on the provider. The Coordinator proposed the following reformulation of this sentence with the deletion of the last phrase beginning with “unless”: “.. reasonable accommodation, to be defined as necessary and appropriate modifications and adjustments, not imposing a disproportionate burden, where needed in a particular case, to ensure to PWD the enjoyment or exercise ….” This changes the order of placement of the terms without changing the substance.
Thailand agreed with these changes but asserted that they do lead to a change in the substance as now the notion of disproportionate burden is not an additional “external condition”, outside of the term reasonable accommodation itself.
New Zealand was comfortable with the WG draft with this paragraph but now also supports what it acknowledges are useful improvements that have been proposed to it. The chapeau can be deleted. The EU’s language “to ensure that RA is provided” will cover more cases where RA should be provided. “Guarantee” should be changed to “ensure.” The EU’s rephrasing of this paragraph is preferred because the second part can be moved if necessary in its entirety to a separate Article on Definitions. New Zealand supports the Coordinator’s proposed reformulation of the paragraph addressing Thailand’s concern; however purely as a drafting matter, the phrase “where such modifications and adjustments are needed” needs to be added after “disproportionate burden” to restore the flow of this sentence. Also as a drafting matter, New Zealand reiterates its support for what was Canada’s original proposal to replace “on an equal footing’ as raised by the Coordinator.
Australia agreed that the chapeau should be deleted; if retained Australia would oppose its EU formulation citing “equal treatment” since “in this context, equal treatment is not necessarily the outcome we are seeking.” Other amendments in the EU proposal improve the text: changing the obligation of States Parties to “ensure” rather than “provide” RA, and adding the phrase “where needed in a particular case”. The concept of “unjustifiable hardship” is stronger than that of “disproportionate burden” and is therefore preferred. Either way the concept is brought directly and much more clearly into the definition of RA in the Coordinator’s reformulation of it. Therefore Australia supports that reformulation with possibly some minor drafting changes. It is not necessary to specifically mention legislation in this paragraph for the reasons stated by the Coordinator, that this could give rise to negative implication in other Articles where this term is not used. While state funding is important, this paragraph is not the appropriate place to refer to this issue.
Jordan agreed that the chapeau and the mention of legislation should be deleted. The reference to “exercise and enjoyment” in the definition should be replaced with “protection or enjoyment.” Jordan is flexible on either “disproportionate burden” or unjustifiable hardship”. It supports the EU’s proposal to change “provide” to “ensure”.
The Netherlands (EU) responded to Thailand’s concerns by noting the differences between the WG text on which Thailand’s objections seem to be based, and the EU text. In the former the definition of RA is separated by 2 commas followed by the phrase “unless such measures … “ where it could be argued that the last phrase is separate from the definition. In the latter there is a semi-colon breaking up the second half of the paragraph dealing with the definition, within which the same phrase also falls, and this is the only way this phrase can be interpreted. The EU would oppose the reformulation proposed by the Coordinator because it sends a wrong signal to begin a definition with an exception. This phrase is an exception, and it must remain as an exception.
Thailand responded that its concerns on the exception have been voiced by other delegations. The inclusion of “unless” creates 2 sets of content, one set of conditions for determining what RA is and “another condition for whether RA should be ensured or not.” This could cause confusion in practice. The exception should be a part of the definition.
The Coordinator suggested a full stop completely separating the first and second half of the paragraph could be considered. However this may not address Thailand and other delegations’ concerns, which are primarily based on the exceptionalism that is created by locating the phrase with the terminology of “unless …” at the end of the sentence.
Lebanon emphasized that “reasonable” induces measures that put limitations on the accommodation. In addition the notion of reasonable applies not just to the provider but also to the PWD. In this regard RA is inherently individualized, and is not the same as “accessibility for all.” For this reason Lebanon proposes adding the phase “for the best interests of the person.” Lebanon also prefers the phrase “unjustifiable hardship” as this better represents the interests of the PWD as well. From an employers perspective the measures may always be a disproportionate burden.
China supported the original WG text; it noted also that were its chapeau removed the first part of this paragraph would sound incomplete. It opposes the language of the chapeau of the EU text, agrees with the EU language “to ensure” rather than provide RA, supports the WG language after that, and supports the EU text after “unless”. While acknowledging that a decision on the Definitions article has not been made China noted that such technical points should not be in Article 3.
Serbia and Montenegro supported the Coordinator’s reformulation of the definition of RA. It also suggested breaking paragraph 4 into subparagraphs (a) as far as the semi colon in the EU text, and (b) for the rest of the paragraph. This might make confusion over interpretation less likely. Likewise it approves replacing “on an equal footing.”
Japan, like Australia, would not accept the notion of equal treatment in the EU chapeau, but can accept wording based on the principle of equality. Concepts like “unreasonable difficulties” should be incorporated in such a way they do not imply that new conditions are being attached to something that has already been defined, but are an inherent part of the definition of RA itself.
Cuba expressed concern that the notion of “disproportionate burden” could apply to other areas of life as well, potentially inhibiting the integration of PWD. It suggested alternative translation of the term “accommodation” from what was reflected in the Spanish texts before them. The Coordinator suggested conferring on this point with other Spanish speaking delegations.
The Philippines shared the concerns of Thailand and other delegations regarding the placement of “disproportionate burden”. Perhaps this clause can be brought further up into the sentence following “modifications and adjustments.” Alternatively the word “unless”, which connotes conditionality, could be replaced with “without imposing …”
Jamaica cautioned that the Committee should ensure a loophole free Convention. It should avoid exception clauses that could be misinterpreted or allow States Parties or private entities to find justifications for not accommodating PWD, especially in terms of employment or education. Therefore the reference to disproportionate burden should be moved further up in the text, as suggested by the Philippines. Jamaica further posited that perhaps the concept of “reasonable” already incorporated the notion that this would not entail a disproportionate burden. Accordingly a definition of this word could be included in a separate Article so as to apply to other parts of the Convention as well. Finally Jamaica feels strongly about retaining the mention of legislation as this is in line with its own domestic legislation.
Yemen did not see the need to retain the chapeau of this paragraph given the overall purpose of Article 7 is to promote equality and nondiscrimination. It supported the proposal of Jordan. Yemen supports changing the terminology of “reasonable” accommodation to “acceptable” accommodation.
The United States sought to clarify the definition of RA and in this regard supported the Philippines proposal, which would apply the exception to the adjustments themselves. There may be situations where an accommodation would be necessary and appropriate in terms of granting access to the PWD, but may still constitute, as in U.S. law, “undue hardship” for a particularly small employer. The Philippines proposal merits strong consideration.
Uruguay agreed that the chapeau to this paragraph was not necessary. The exception at the end of the sentence should be deleted. It is contrary to the purpose of the convention itself, which is to promote the rights of PWD and not the interests of the State.
Israel reiterated the concept of “reasonableness” is in and of itself too vague. States need the additional guidance and clarification that comes with reference to “disproportionate”, as this applies to resources. Israel disagrees with the Australian and Canadian alternative language of “unjustifiable hardship”, which sounds “too apologetic.” The Indian suggestion of endeavoring to undertake unnecessarily weakens states obligations in a sentence which already contains the right checks and balances. It agrees that “guarantee” should be replaced by “ensure” because the former may be a little too ambitious an expectation of States Parties.
The Syrian Arab Republic shared delegations concerns with the exception at the end of the paragraph because it dilutes the strength of States’ obligations. The exception could be used to negate the obligation. Syria proposes deleting this last part of the para with the following alternative language: “ … right to equality for PWD, States Parties undertake to take all appropriate steps including by legislation, to provide / guarantee to the extent possible” or “to the maximum possible …” This would avoid imposing unbearable burdens on the State while also ensuring that the State would do all that it can do to promote the rights of PWD.
The Coordinator reviewed his sense of the room on the EU text, which had been the basis of negotiations over the WG text:  a great many delegations supported deleting the chapeau, over which delegations expressed concerns both in the WG and EU versions. The paragraph would begin with States Parties. The African Group did not agree to this deletion, however it is reconsidering this position, and if it wishes, this can be noted in a footnote.  many delegations were comfortable with deleting of “including by legislation” on the understanding that it will be replicated in General Obligations Article 4. The first part of the paragraph would then read as follows: “States Parties would undertake to take all appropriate steps to ensure that RA is provided.”  “on an equal footing” would be replaced with “on a basis of equality with others”;  keeping in mind that the EU’s text did not satisfy the concerns many delegations had with the exception at the end of the second sentence, the Coordinator suggested the following alternative formulation: “RA to be defined as necessary and appropriate modifications and adjustments, not imposing a disproportionate burden, where needed in a particular case, to ensure to PWD the enjoyment and exercise on a basis of equality with others, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms.” The Coordinator asked the Committee for its approval to move forward on the basis of this text with the caveats as indicated for the chapeau and mention of legislation.
The EU requested that the footnote proposed by the Coordinator on the chapeau refer to the EU’s preference for its retention. The EU believes a specific reference to the objective of “equal treatment” for PWD is necessary precisely because RA is often perceived as constituting unequal treatment. The Coordinator assured the EU that the footnote will highlight that several groups of states wish to reflect further on the need for an introductory paragraph.
Jamaica sought clarification whether there is a general approach regarding definitions given that RA will be mentioned in other parts of the Convention. The Coordinator replied that it was not possible to reach conclusions on this point, keeping in mind China’s objections to including what it considered to be technical terms in the Definitions. The matter of placement could be addressed in negotiations about the structure of the Convention.
Lebanon enquired why the alternative language of “unjustifiable hardship” was not incorporated. The Coordinator noted that on balance more delegations were in support of the existing WG phrase, and moreover this terminology fits better in the altered context in which this phrase has now been incorporated into the sentence.
Costa Rica agreed to the Coordinator’s summing up of the negotiations but with some caveats. It reiterated its objections to the term disproportionate burden. There are “more than enough safeguards” already incorporated in the existing concepts of “reasonable”, “necessary”, “appropriate”, applicable in a specific case, and with a defined objective. Furthermore including “disproportionate burden” weakens fundamental human rights obligations and drags the Committee into further negotiations. The exception clause could be addressed in the same way as the chapeau in the Coordinator’s review, as both of these had raised objections from delegations. The exception clause likewise could be deleted with an explanatory footnote added.
The Coordinator stressed the difference of views on this issue was both fundamental and various. As reflected in his discussions with Thailand and other delegations the Coordinator has sought to get at the fundamental problems that delegations were having with this provision, and this is the best compromise that could be reached. There are a number of qualifications in this provision; however in the Coordinator’s interpretation these qualifications apply to the type and nature of modifications and adjustments being made and their linkage to the disability in question as noted by “where needed in a particular case.” So this part of the provision could be read as “modifications…. which are necessary and appropriate to the disabled person in question.” It seemed that a number of delegations wanted some balancing language that “accepts that in some circumstances it may not be reasonable to require for those modifications to be made.” That is, all of the modifications that may suit the PWD may not, bearing into account all other things, be appropriate in the circumstances, and they may impose a disproportionate burden.
Costa Rica acknowledged that while “necessary and appropriate” applies to the PWD, the notion of “reasonableness”, which the Coordinator himself had mentioned, already exists to meet the concerns of States. If the concerns of States need to be reiterated, then the qualifying language can simply repeat the word “reasonable” after “necessary and appropriate.“ Or another word synonymous with the word “reasonable” - which “disproportionate burden” is not - can be used, and the Committee can open a different set of discussions on what that should be. Or, conversely, the term that is being defined,’ ie “reasonable accommodation” needs to be changed. Costa Rica again noted that it will not let its concerns obstruct progress in the current negotiations.
The Coordinator pointed out part of the problem with interpretation as highlighted by Costa Rica and other delegations could lie in the fact that the term reasonable accommodation in this paragraph is not in inverted commas. This may cause some confusion in that “reasonable” in reasonable accommodation could be interpreted as a qualifier in and of itself. In the Coordinator’s own view “reasonable accommodation” is a single term that is being defined. The Coordinator noted the sense around the room that this issue is not yet settled and Costa Rica’s concerns can be cited in a footnote.
Cuba seconded Costa Rica’s concerns on the inclusion of the term “disproportionate burden” and would like its own “serious reservations” here to be recorded in a footnote. It shared Jamaica’s concerns regarding Definitions. The Coordinator affirmed that Footnote 27 would be maintained from the original WG text.
Norway announced new concerns that both the WG and EU texts could be misconstrued as introducing new reasons for states to derogate from their obligations on civil and political rights, beyond those reasons that already exist in the Covenant. This could be “a very unfortunate consequence of this language”. Norway would like to flag this concern and think a bit more about how notions of RA can be introduced into the sphere of civil and political rights before a final formulation of this para is agreed upon.
Before closing the informal consultations, the Coordinator thanked delegations for their cooperation. He looked forward to the work being continued at the next round of informal consultations, which hopefully will allow the Committee to complete discussion of the first half of the Convention, through Article 15.
The Chair, Ambassador Gallegos of Ecuador opened the session with items 6 and 7 of the Agenda: Conclusion and Adoption of the Report of the Fourth session of the AHC.
The Coordinator, Ambassador McKay of New Zealand submitted his Report of informal sessions on Articles 4,5,6 and 7, the first 3 of which had been referred to Facilitators’ Groups. One amendment to the report was incorporated, arising from the concern among several delegations that its Summary of Discussions on Draft Article 4, 2nd point, did not fully reflect the stage of the discussions on progressive realization of ESCR. The finalised Report of the Coordinator is at: http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/enable/rights/ahc4reporte.htm.
The Coordinator reported that progress has been made towards producing clean text in these Articles. He recommended to the Chair and the AHC that negotiations at the 5th session of the AHC continue in the same format. As stated in his report, negotiations have proceeded on the clear understanding that states can raise issues again at a later stage.
The Deputy Minister of Health of Italy made a statement calling for “speed and adaptation” in this process. His experience as a doctor demonstrates that a disabled person can take important paths to help “normal” people. Diversity should be accepted as a value. Disability is about listening to the other person. It is also about overcoming discrimination not only at the personal level but also at the level of the state. States “speak well… of the perfect form of intervention”, but then institutionalize people with the excuse of rehabilitation, creating divisions between the ‘normal’ and the ‘disabled.’ When negotiations are blocked for days by a strong country using a simple word, it reflects the arrogance of a country rather than concern for humankind. States should step back from their arrogance to move this process forward. There should be a monitoring group on injustices.
The World Federation of the DeafBlind made a statement on behalf of the International Disability Caucus. The achievement of the Working Group in the first 2 weeks in January was outstanding. A document was prepared that continues to be the basis for negotiations. In the subsequent 3rd and 4th AHC very little progress has been made in terms of advancing the text of the Convention. The Caucus calls on delegations to avoid unnecessary discussions on sometimes almost identical wording, to allocate required resources, establish a clear and ambitious calendar, and not allow unnecessary delays. In this final stage of the negotiation process, representatives from national disability movements should be included in Government delegations. The new proposed way of working has significantly limited the participation of DPOs, and therefore a consultation mechanism should be established. While attending meetings is costly for all DPOs, it is almost impossible for those from the developing world. The Caucus again urges Governments to make contributions to the UN Voluntary Fund. While the Caucus recognizes that, like Governments, it needs to be flexible on concrete wording, 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.” The complete statement is at http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/enable/rights/ahc4idcfinal.htm.
Landmine Survivors Network supported the position of the International Disability Caucus and submitted an additional statement, along with the Inter-American Institute on Disability, on the speed of the process. It highlighted the need to build on what was achieved in the WG, ensure the participation of DPOs and NGOs from the developing world, and aspire to best outcomes with “guidelines and deadlines of process”. The complete statement is at: http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/enable/rights/ahc4lsnspeed.doc.
The Chair informed the AHC that the Voluntary Fund for financing the presence of NGOs from developing country is totally depleted, though some pledges have been received. He called on delegations to contribute to this fund.
The Chair read out a number of oral amendments to the “Draft Report of the 4th Session AHC.” Among them was the additional reference to “Annex III” after Annex II, in Section III, Para 9, on the Organization of Work. The new Annex III will contain the text of the statement made by the Chair on the Organisation of Work. In the same para, the last part of the last sentence “…. without prejudice to the decisions to be taken by the GA in that regard at its 59th session” should be deleted. In Section IV on Recommendations, paragraph 10 should have the additional language “The AHC also recommends that its 5th Session will take place in NYC in January 2005.” These amendments were accepted by the Committee.
Israel shared the concerns of other delegations and NGOs that the Convention development process progress quickly and efficiently and in this regard had a suggestion on procedure. It recognized that when any forum has to work quickly, it is often more important what happens around that forum than within it. Israel suggests that there be a lot more work in between meetings of the AHC encouraging countries to iron out issues between themselves with the leadership of coordinators. Israel is willing to contribute in this regard, both from the legal and professional point of view. This process between meetings can include NGOs, which is important, and will increase efficiency.
Cuba requested that there be a direct reference in paragraph 9 to the Report of the Coordinator, as this should be mentioned at least once somewhere in the Report of the AHC. In the Report of the Coordinator itself, the term “had problems” should be replaced with “expressed reservations” in paragraph 27 dealing with disproportionate burden.
Both the Chair and Coordinator agreed that Cuba’s amendments would be incorporated.
Costa Rica noted that while the Coordinator’s Report documents the outcome of the second week of informal consultations, there is no record of the meetings in the first week of the AHC. During this first week delegations made proposals and worked on text. Costa Rica enquired as to whether these achievements could be documented as well. The Chair indicated that he will consult with the Secretariat about this point.
Thailand expressed its appreciation for this environment which has made the participation of PWD in this process possible. In particular the delegate thanked his own country for the generous contribution it has made to the disability community in Thailand through his representation at the AHC.
The Draft Report as orally amended was approved by the Committee.
In his concluding remarks the Chair requested that delegations take back to their home capitals the conviction that this historic process is transforming international society and creating an instrument that is holistic and inclusive. He called on States to return to the 5th AHC session with a commitment to work efficiently, with brief discussions, avoiding repetition and with fewer substantive differences.
The Session was adjourned.
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