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Ad Hoc Committee Main


Daily summary of discussions related to Article 13


UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities
Fourth session of the Ad Hoc Committee - Daily Summary
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Volume 5, #4
August 26, 2004



Venezuela supported the title proposed by Costa Rica. In the chapeau “guarantee” should replace “ensure.” 13(a) should refer to “Braille, sign language and other means of communication.” Venezuela supports Argentina’s proposal and after “technologies” adds “methods appropriate to different disabilities.” It supports both the New Zealand and Mexico proposals for 13(b). In 13(e) Venezuela supports Uganda and Costa Rica’s proposals, but replaces “care givers” with “associates,” and after “interpreters” would say “sign language interpreters.” It supports Uganda’s proposal for 13(1)(h) and Lebanon’s proposed 13(2).

Mexico proposed a new chapeau: “States parties shall ensure enjoyment of the right to information, expression and opinion, as well as communication to persons with disabilities, using means of communication of their choice including, when appropriate, Braille and sign language, so that persons with disabilities may request, receive and share information on an equal footing.” In 13(a) Mexico supports the EU proposal to change “public” to “official.” Regarding specific formats the original wording should be retained, as it is simpler and avoids omitting formats and limiting the article’s scope. 13(b) should include “and promoting” at the beginning. In 13(c) Mexico proposes: “offering education, training to non-disabled persons wishing to communicate with persons with disabilities, their families and the general public, to use alternative communication modes.” Mexico supports 13(e) as drafted.

Republic of Korea noted there is no reference in Articles 13 or 18 to access to political or electoral information, and Korea proposes to add a paragraph available at: In 13(b) “accepting” should be replaced with “recognizing.”

South Africa opposed Israel’s proposed title, as it would limit the scope of the article. It supports Costa Rica’s proposed chapeau, as well as Liechtenstein’s replacement of “alternate” with “appropriate.” It supports the proposals of Japan in 13(a) as provision of public information should be left to the States, whilst retaining “without additional cost.” South Africa supports the New Zealand proposal in 13(b), but would refer to “a variety of suitable modes of communication.” In 13(f), proposals seeking to force private entities to provide particular services are not appropriate, and the original language should be retained. South Africa supports Lebanon’s proposal in 13(2), amending to say “to ensure that these technologies are developed, provided and also made available to persons with disabilities at the earliest stage possible.”

Japan stated that Article 13 is of great importance the rights therein lie at the core of civil and political rights. However, as drafted 13 touches upon both public and private spheres, and it may be difficult for States to implement. 13(a) should begin, “Taking appropriate steps to provide..." or, " the maximum of its available resources," as in Article 2 of the International Covenant of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

Chile supported Liechtenstein in using “appropriate” in the chapeau, but “alternative” should also be retained. Where possible, generic terms for modes of communication should be used, to ensure breadth and relevancy over time. In 13(b), “incorporating” should replace “accepting,” as this is more binding. In 13(c) Chile supports the proposals to address the training of non-disabled persons. In 13(f) and (g) it supports Jordan’s proposal to replace “encouraging” with the stronger “requiring.” Not all private entities would be affected by 13(f), only those providing services to the public. Chile also supports Trinidad and Tobago in ensuring public entities are also obligated by (f).

Qatar spoke in support of those who stressed the need to refer to Braille, “since it is one of the modes of communication that has been omitted.”

Jamaica expressed concern about any title omitting the concept of freedom of expression. An alternate shorter title could be, “Freedom of Expression and Access to Information.” It questions the EU proposal to replace “public” with “official,” given that “public” would include services and information that are not official but that are available to the public. 13(a) and (f) address similar concepts and could be merged.

Thailand reiterated its position that “public” be retained in 13(a). It also supports use of “recognize” rather than “accept” in 13(b). Articles 13(d) and 4(1)(f) could be merged. Requiring private entities to provide accessible information to the public is of great importance, as failure to do so would limit access to information by PWD. It supports Uganda’s proposal for 13(h), but would amend to say “recognize and/or develop,” as many sign languages already exist but have not yet been recognized. The Disability Caucus draft has many useful provisions to add to 13, especially regarding freedom of expression that is not yet fully developed in 13. Thailand supports Korea in addressing access to political information and systems, which could be placed here or in Article 18.

Canada expressed concern that 13 is reflective of a problem throughout the treaty, “namely that on occasions it becomes very much a prescriptive, action-plan oriented document, rather than the principled instrument that we had hoped it would become.” There is overlap with Articles 17, 19 and 20, and some merging would be appropriate. It supports Thailand in the need for more on freedom of expression and opinion, with sub-paragraphs (a), (b), (e) and (f) coming closest to addressing that right. In 13(a) Canada supports the EU, but shares concerns regarding the replacement of “public” with “official.” It does not support the Moroccan proposal regarding taxation, as that is a matter of state sovereignty. In 13(b) Canada supports the amendments of Mexico and New Zealand. The texts of 13(e) and (f) are fine as drafted, though Canada is flexible regarding the level of obligation “in the prompt” of (f).

Yemen reiterated its proposal for 13(c), made during AHC3.

New Zealand opposed Costa Rica’s proposed title, as there is no recognized “right to communication.” It is preferable to use the formulation in Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. It supports retention of “encouraging” in 13(f) and (g), as it is not possible to oblige or ensure that private entities make information and services to the public accessible. Placing such obligations on the media “would be contrary to States’ obligations to preserve freedom of expression and opinion for the media.” New Zealand retracts its proposal to use the term “modes of communication” in 13(b) and (c), as it has a particular connotation for some PWD. “Means of communication” should be used instead. It also withdraws its objections to “alternative,” as it is indispensable in this context. Sign language is a first language and should not be included in the text as a sub-set of alternative means of communication. The chapeau should read, “States Parties shall take appropriate measures to ensure that persons with disabilities can exercise their right to freedom of expression and opinion, and to seek, receive and impart information on a basis of equality with others. This right shall include the freedom to use sign language and alternative means of communication.” In addition, 13(c) should read, “Educating persons with disabilities to use sign language and alternative means of communication as required.” New Zealand supports the proposal of Thailand to move 13(d) to Article 4. New Zealand’s proposal for Article 4 is intended to be a new sub-paragraph and does not replace sub paragraph (f).

Kenya suported Jamaica and Thailand, and Canada and New Zealand in part. The Disability Caucus draft should be considered. The chapeau should read “freedom of expression and thought” to ensure inclusion of these concepts. Kenya opposes the EU’s replacement of “public” with “official” in 13(a). It supports New Zealand’s proposals for 13(b), including the use of “means” instead of “mode.” Kenya strongly supports Yemen’s proposal for 13(c). It supports the EU proposal in 13(d) to encourage research by non-state actors. It supports Uganda in 13(e). In 13(f) and (g) Kenya prefers “ensure” or “require” which are stronger than “encourage.” Kenya proposes the use of “promote” instead of “develop” or “recognize” in 13(h).

The Netherlands (EU) supported New Zealand, and expressed support for the text. 13(a) and (f) address “public” information, but affect different actors and it is confusing as drafted. Its proposal for 13(a) uses “official” to clarify that the obligation of governments is for information for which they are responsible. The EU is interested in hearing why some delegations have opposed the EU’s proposal on this matter.

Norway echoed the concerns of New Zealand, Thailand and Uganda that sign language should be recognized as a language in its own right.

Eritrea supported the proposals of Japan and Argentina for 13(a). It also supports the proposal of Yemen in 13(c). It supports 13(f) as drafted with amendments by Uganda. It also supports the Ugandan proposal regarding sign language in 13(h), and South Africa regarding provision of assistive devices and technologies

China expressed satisfaction with the text. It supports Jamaica’s proposal for the title. “Modes of communication” is mentioned many times in Article 13, and if defined should be defined here rather than in Article 3. China supports the proposals of Costa Rica and Canada for the chapeau, Japan for 13(a), and New Zealand for 13(c).

Korea supported Canada on the tendency of the text to be programmatic rather than principled. This is clear in 13(d) which refers to research but fails to include the important principle of consultation with PWD and their representative organizations.

Serbia & Montenegro supported the New Zealand chapeau proposals. It supports the EU in using “official” in 13(a), in light of distinctions between 13(a) and (f). In 13(b) it supports the New Zealand’s attempt to find the most appropriate way to refer to different means of communication. In 13(c) it supports the New Zealand and Trinidad and Tobago amendments. The New Zealand and Thai proposals to remove 13(d) to Article 4 deserves consideration. 13(e) is fine as drafted, though the EU proposal to create a separate article addressing forms of live assistance for PWD is of interest.

India proposed that 13(d) be moved to a new article on rehabilitation, 21 bis (d), as it suggested at AHC3. India supports the addition of 13(2), with “and distributed at a cost affordable by persons with disabilities” after “produced.”

Namibia supported retention of the title. It also supports use of “public” in 13(2), as this is broader than “official.” It supports the Lebanese proposal in 13(c), but would prefer “persons without disabilities” or “the general public,” rather than “non-disabled persons.” It supports the Ugandan proposal in 13(h) addressing sign language, but would prefer “recognizing and promoting” after “developing,” to take account of the varying stages of sign language usage in different countries. Namibia supports the Mexican proposal in 13(h) addressing information and telecommunication technologies, as well as Lebanon’s proposed 13(2).

Thailand supported the Canadian proposal to move some provisions of 13 to other articles. It supports the New Zealand proposals to refer to “means” of communication, as well as the idea that sign language should not be equated with other alternative means of communication.

Trinidad & Tobago supported the title proposed by Jamaica. It also supported the Ugandan proposal in 13(h) regarding sign language, and the New Zealand proposal recognizing sign language as a first language for deaf people.

Costa Rica supported recognition of sign language as a language and not an alternative means of communication. Its proposed title “Right to Communication and Information” is appropriate, as the right to information encompasses the concepts of freedom of expression and opinion.

The meeting was adjourned.


Volume 5, #5
August 27, 2004



The Disability Caucus
urged States to take appropriate actions to ensure to all PWD the same entitlements to freedom of expression and opinion as others, including through the use of sign language, Braille, plain language, tactile forms of communication, and other methods of communication of the individual’s choice. It presented a revised draft of Article 13, available at:

World Federation of the Deaf thanked those delegations supporting the need to distinguish sign language from other modes or means of communication. The draft text does not adequately recognize sign language as a natural language, or the need to recognize sign language in national legislation. International law prohibits discrimination on the basis of language, and this should also be addressed here. Development and use of means of communication, such as Braille and subtitling, are equally important and should be fostered in parallel with sign language. It is important to ensure that PWD enjoy the equal right to both understand and be understood.


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