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Daily summary of discussions related to Article
RIGHT TO LIFE
UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities
Fourth session of the Ad Hoc Committee - Daily Summary
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Volume 5, #3
August 25, 2004
ARTICLE 8: RIGHT TO LIFE
New Zealand noted that the first part of this article
replicates language used in previous instruments, but the second part,
“shall take all necessary measures,” is new and could imply preferential
treatment. New Zealand therefore supports an amendment to add “on an
equal basis with others” which should resolve this problem. It does
not support the introduction of language attempting to cover issues
such as the status of unborn children as this “could open a Pandora’s
box.” The article should not cover prevention of disability. Though
it notes the risks posed to PWD living in certain situations (poverty,
armed conflict) it does not support specific reference to such situations.
Chile called for including references to the various
stages in the life of a PWD. It supports the Jordanian proposal to mention
armed conflict and natural disasters and proposes language encompassing
all of these issues: “States Parties reaffirm the inherent right to
life of all PWD in the various stages of their life and shall take all
necessary measures to ensure its effective enjoyment by them in particular
in situations of armed conflict and natural disasters in accordance
with international law, human rights, refugee and international humanitarian
Costa Rica reaffirmed its proposal in the 3rd session
to reaffirm the right to life of “all” which would avoid the problem
highlighted by New Zealand; however it is also open to supporting the
alternative proposal by New Zealand.
Kenya agreed with Argentina that the term “recognize”
should replace the term “reaffirm.” PWD should enjoy quality of life
and disability is not a justification for the termination of life and
it supports the language in this regard. It also proposes additional
language: “States Parties shall prohibit medical, biological and other
experiments reducing the quality of life of PWD or seeking to remedy
a disability against the will of a PWD.” Kenya further supports language
referencing the situation of PWD in armed conflict or natural disasters
as follows: “In case of humanitarian or natural disasters, States Parties
shall secure the safety of PWD on an equal basis with other persons
taking into account each individual’s needs.”
The Chair noted that there was reference to medical
experimentation in Article 11.
Japan expressed concerned that adding references to
armed conflict and natural disasters could change the whole concept
of the original WG text, which it supported. Japan is not opposed to
addressing such situations but this should be done elsewhere.
Canada agreed with New Zealand on the need to be consistent
with human rights law and with its proposed language (“on an equal basis
with others”) ensuring that PWD do not enjoy any different standard
in relation to the right to life. Canada opposes addressing causes of
disability such as armed conflict or issues that touch on bio-ethical
debates. There are instruments that deal more appropriately with civilians
in armed conflict. It opposes the Chilean proposal to add “at various
stages of their life,” and the proposal to replace “reaffirm” with “recognize”
as this would severely weaken the text.
China supported the Jordanian proposal to reference
armed conflict and natural disasters, as this makes the text more comprehensive.
It would not object to the deletion of the latter half the WG text,
“and shall take all necessary measures to ensure its effective enjoyment
Venezuela supported the Costa Rica proposal to delete
references to PWD, as the right to life should apply to all people,
not only PWD.
The US supports the WG text with the following addition
at the end: “…and shall ensure that disability or perceived quality
of life shall not serve as a basis for infringement of the right to
life.” The US can also support the formulation of the right to life
as set forth in the ICCPR. It opposes a reference to armed conflict.
Mexico stated that it would like the Spanish version
of the text to refer to the “inherent” right to life, reflecting language
in the UN Charter. It called for a more open and general treatment of
the article and supports the proposal by Costa Rica. Armed conflict
and other exceptional risk situations should be covered elsewhere in
The Holy See stressed its support for Article 8 and
recalled WG NGO interventions that were very powerful. It noted the
precedents for including a provision of the right to life in other human
rights conventions. It is satisfied on the whole with the WG text, but
will carefully consider additional contributions, such as that proposed
by Kenya. It supports the intervention by the USA to add language on
quality of life. It voiced caution in relation to the New Zealand proposal
to add “on an equal basis with others” as this may not fully capture
the particular risks posed to PWD in their enjoyment of the right to
South Africa supported the WG text and the Costa Rican
proposal to refer generally to the right to life of all persons.
India supported the WG text with the addition “on an
equal basis with others.” It cautioned against getting into a debate
on issues such as the status of the unborn child.
The EU supported the WG text. Armed conflict and natural
disasters are important issues but do not belong in this article. The
right to life under international law is non-derogable and therefore
covers all situations. It opposes the proposal to replace “reaffirm”
with “recognize” which would weaken the text.
Syria supports the WG text with the additional language
as proposed by Jordan on armed conflict and natural disasters, and as
proposed by Palestine on foreign occupation.
Eritrea supported proposals by Argentina (“States Parties
recognize that any person with disabilities has the inherent right to
life”) and India (adding a second paragraph “to ensure to the maximum
extent possible the survival and development of persons with disabilities”).
It would support the inclusion of a reference to armed conflict and
natural disasters though this could also be addressed elsewhere in the
convention as suggested by Mexico.
Thailand supported the WG text with the additional
language from New Zealand (“on an equal basis”). Proposals to add other
issues may not be advisable but Thailand will study them.
Jordan expressed its appreciation to delegations supporting
its proposal on armed conflict and natural disasters, which it put forward
as a compromise. It is open to referencing such issues elsewhere in
Lebanon recognised concerns expressed by some delegations
on adding language to the WG text, but underlined its importance. Lebanon
is open to placing references to particular situations such as armed
conflict elsewhere in the convention.
The Chair drew the Committee’s attention to references
to situations such as armed conflict in the Preamble at (p).
Mali supported the WG text with a change in the title
to “Right to Live” as this is “much more active.”
International Right to Life Foundation (also on behalf
of US National Right to Life, UK Society for the Protection of Unborn
Children and United Families International) noted the enhanced risk
of PWD to infringements of their right to life who are in greater danger
than non-disabled people to be denied medical treatment and or food
and water. Their quality of life is not perceived to be “good enough.”
It therefore supports language in Article 8 regarding quality of life.
International Disability Caucus submitted its proposed
language under the title “Right to Life, Survival and Development.”
This right must be recognized at all stages of life, including infants,
girls and boys. The right to survival and development has been included
in the CRC, so this is not unusual or controversial. Disability is not
a justification for the termination of life and this issue impacts the
enjoyment of the right to life and should be included. While the Caucus
takes no position on the issue of abortion in general, it opposes compulsory
abortion based on prenatal diagnosis. Language on experiments does not
replicate Article 11, but addresses experiments that reduce the quality
of life of PWD. Seeking to remedy a disability against a person’s will
is also related to quality of life. Language on armed conflict does
not address prevention, but the need to ensure the safety of PWD in
armed conflict and emergency situations.
Yemen supports the WG draft with additional wording
similar to 6(2) in CRC relating to survival and development. Language
relating to refugees, armed conflict and those under foreign occupation
should be included in a separate article.
Inclusion International noted that people with intellectual
disabilities have been seen as a burden on society. Even those with
the greatest support needs must have their right to life respected.
The Chair adjourned the session.