Back to: Fifth Session of the Ad Hoc Committee
Summaries of the Fifth Session
Daily summary of discussion at the fifth session
24 January 2005
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UN Convention on the Human Rights of People with Disabilities
Ad Hoc Committee - Daily Summaries
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Volume 6, #1
January 24, 2005
The Chair, Ambassador Luis Gallegos, opened the Fifth
session of the Ad Hoc Committee on the drafting of a Comprehensive and
Integral International Convention on Protection and Promotion of the
Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities (AHC5). He reminded
those in attendance that this Convention will cover 600 million people
with disabilities worldwide, and encouraged full participation by everyone
The Agenda and Organization of Work was adopted as a guide for the
Ambassador Don MacKay was invited to preside over
the informal consultations as Coordinator. He reminded
the group that during AHC4, Articles 4, 5, 6 and 7 were discussed; the
outcome of those discussions are in the Report of the Coordinator A/59/360
Articles 1 and 2 were not discussed in AHC4 as they were considered
at previous AHC meetings. Discussion of Article 3 has been deferred
until other articles had been dealt with.
Ambassador Mackay suggested that the Committee continue where it had
left off, at Article 7, paragraph 5, dealing with “special measures.”
As many issues as possible will be resolved during these discussions.
When this is not possible, drafting and other issues will be referred
to the facilitators of the particular article. He encouraged delegations
and disability groups to work informally with the facilitators on their
concerns to maintain an interactive process. The Coordinator’s
goal is to complete discussions through Article 15 by Friday, January
28 so that the AHC may begin discussions on Article 16-25 on January
31. He encouraged a relevant and structured discussion. There are many
documents for delegates to use, some of which are hard to read due to
the many brackets denoting word changes. He asked delegates to read
out any wording changes they suggest so people with disabilities and
the whole group may more easily follow along. The Coordinator
will try to point out issues and to state a sense of the group regarding
these changes. Structural issues with the text should be dealt with
at the end if at all possible. Titles of Articles traditionally are
left off of finalised human rights Conventions so he asked that no time
be spent discussing titles at this point. Because this is an ongoing
process, nothing is decided until everything is decided. Flexibility
is key and no one is “locked in” to a position.
ARTICLE 7: EQUALITY AND NON-DISCRIMINATION (continued)
Japan stated it had previously suggested an amendment
for 7.5, deleting the last part of the paragraph. The words “but shall
in no way entail as a consequence the maintenance of unequal or separate
standards; those measures shall be discontinued when the objectives
of equality of opportunity and treatment have been achieved” should
be replaced with “those measures should be discontinued when they are
no longer justified in light of the objectives of equal opportunity
Mexico said that it is important to distinguish between
equality under the law, achieved through strict respect for non-discrimination,
and equality as a social goal, referring to equal opportunities. It
is important to list all equal opportunity measures. Equality under
the law and equal opportunity are related but separate concepts. Mexico
suggested Article 7 refer only to equality under the law. A separate
article should be created to address equal opportunity, for example
promoting environments which are accessible to facilitate freedom of
movement and the participation of PWD in all activities of daily life.
Mexico had proposed a draft text that can be found at page 39 of the
compendium dated August 30, 2004. http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/enable/rights/ahc4da7.htm
The Coordinator stated that three items from August
need attention. The first is the question of the need for 7.5. The
Coordinator’s sense from previous discussions is that the delegation
wants 7.5 left in the Convention. The second question involves the correctness
of the term “special measures.” This term is used in other Conventions;
however footnote 28 from the Working Group (WG) asks if this term should
be used in the disability context. The term “positive measures” has
strong support. Finally, the Committee needs to consider whether to
keep 7.5 as written, or whether to change it, either by deleting all
words after the word “Convention,” or by adopting alternative language
suggested by Japan.
Ghana, speaking on behalf of the African Group, supported
the term “positive measures” because “special” connotes discrimination
of some sort, which this Convention must avoid. Regarding the end of
7.5, it suggested keeping the words “but shall in no way entail as a
consequence the maintenance of unequal or separate standards,” because
stopping discrimination against some members of society should not mean
setting unequal or separate standards for others. The African Group
also had some suggestions for 7.5(bis)(c) & (d) which are in the
compendium at http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/enable/rights/ahc4da7.htm
Luxemburg, on behalf of the European Union (EU), supported
the WG draft as written, including speeding up de facto equality with
special measures. It does not support Japan’s proposal to delete the
words after “Convention.”
Yemen supported the first part of 7.5 and the Canadian
proposal to use the term “positive measures” because special may include
negative measures. It also supported Lebanon’s deletion of the second
part of the Article.
Canada supported 7.5 as a needed part of the Convention
addressing positive measures to promote de facto equality. It suggested
and therefore supports the term “positive measures” instead of “special
measures.” In addition, it supported the original WG text, with the
reference to discontinuance of positive measures. It suggested deleting
the phrase “as defined in the present Convention” in 7.5 and replacing
it with “on the basis of disability,” because 7.2(a) prevents States
from taking discriminatory measures.
Jordan expressed preference for the term “appropriate
measures” instead of “positive” or “special.” "Appropriate"
can be used more flexibly; "special" and "positive"
have negative connotations.
The Coordinator pointed out the lack of support for
Costa Rica expressed concern that the discussion about
how to qualify the term “measures” is going in circles. It suggested
not using any qualifier and just using "measures." The measures
aim to achieve de facto equality, and it does not matter whether the
measures are special, positive, or appropriate. Costa Rica acknowledged
the contributions of Yemen, Jordan, and Japan. It supported Canada’s
change of wording.
New Zealand stated that 7.5 is a necessary paragraph
and supported staying as close to the WG text as possible. Wording should
be similar to other Conventions; however, the proposal by Costa Rica
is an attractive compromise since the measures are defined in the next
phrase. It is interested in the Canadian word change to avoid a tautological
reference. It also supported the last part of the paragraph and the
wording in the WG text because it uses language similar to other Conventions
such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination
against Women (CEDAW), Article 4.
The Coordinator pointed out that “special measures”
is used in the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms
of Racial Discrimination (CERD), Article 1, paragraph 4; and in CEDAW,
Article 4, paragraph 1 “temporary special measures.” Also, the International
Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) uses “appropriate
measures” in the General Comment # 5 regarding PWD.
Mexico agreed with Costa Rica that “measures” should
not be qualified, adding that this might create two systems, one general
and one special, which may lead to unintended consequences. It agreed
with the EU's point that the entire paragraph should be retained in
order to avoid the possibility of separate or unequal standards. However,
it agreed with Japan that the last part of the sentence in 7.5 should
not mirror other Conventions. It suggested that it would be helpful
to include a list of examples of such measures, such as it proposed
at 7.5(bis)(b) and (c). It supports Canada’s word change.
Japan explained its reason for deleting the last part
of 7.5. It believes some measures should be continued or maintained,
following the example of CEDAW, Article 4.2. Even with reasonable accommodations,
some PWD will need continued support. Japan urged either eliminating
that part of the sentence, or adopting its aforementioned proposal for
new language reading "those measures should be discontinued when
they are no longer justified in light of the objectives of equal opportunity
and treatment." This proposal is linked to its position regarding
7.3. If 7.3 is retained, Japan may no longer be concerned about 7.5.
The Coordinator asked if anyone could explain the
phrase “but shall in no way entail as a consequence the maintenance
of unequal or separate standards,” which comes from CEDAW, 4.1, about
de facto equality between men and women. This is different from the
disability context. He questioned whether this language is necessary
in this Convention, but stated that the EU was attached to this language.
Canada stated that the CEDAW language was drafted
to avoid having States create separate but equal programs. The same
principle applies to PWD; however, this language may not be needed.
Canada has not taken a firm position. Discontinuance of measures makes
sense if these go beyond the duty to accommodate, to give additional
means for PWD to achieve de facto equality. The requirements in 7.5
do go beyond the duty to accommodate, as they include affirmative action
programs. In contrast, the accommodations required in 7.4 will never
Australia pointed out that 7.5 could be read as a
limitation of special measures. The definition of discrimination and
7.3 already allow States to take special measures. He suggested replacing
this paragraph with “Special or positive measures aimed at accelerating
de facto equality of PWD, not being discrimination as defined, shall
in no way entail as a consequence the maintenance of unequal or separate
standards; those measures shall be discontinued when the objectives
of equality of opportunity and treatment have been achieved.”
United Arab Emirates agreed with Costa Rica’s suggestion
of using only the term “measures,” without qualification. It opposes
Mexico’s suggestion of including examples of measures in the Convention.
The Coordinator summed up the principle by stating
that equality of treatment runs through the Convention. However, if
a State wants to take affirmative action to accelerate de facto equality,
this is not discrimination. This is a linguistic issue.
Yemen stressed its support of the term “positive.”
The Coordinator stated he does not see a consensus
regarding the term “measures” and referred this issue to the facilitators.
He sees no support for the term “special” so the choice is between “positive
measures” and simply "measures" with no qualifier. There is
wide support for deleting the phrase “as defined in the present Convention”
and replacing it with “on the basis of disability.” Regarding the last
part of the paragraph -- "but shall in no way entail as a consequence
the maintenance of unequal or separate standards; those measures shall
be discontinued when the objectives of equality of opportunity and treatment
have been achieved" -- this language is still in dispute. The Coordinator
inquired whether a quota would amount to maintenance of a separate standard.
He asked for further input on this issue. In particular, he asked the
EU to elaborate on why it so strongly supported retaining the phrase.
Ghana (African Group) opposed deleting the end of
the paragraph, and suggested it be discussed at a later time.
The EU also opposed the deletion because it does not
want to establish different or discriminatory standards for PWD; instead,
it wants to promote special measures to implement de facto equality.
Special measures should strengthen equality, but should not lead to
different standards. The aim is integration, not different treatment.
The Coordinator asked for a practical example of the
consequences of retaining or deleting the "but shall in no way
The EU stated that
this section is a safeguard to ensure that positive measures will not
establish different standards for PWD, but will combat discrimination.
that if 7.3 were deleted (as it supports), and if 7.5 were to remain
as written, then 7.5 could be misinterpreted as obliging states to abolish
all special measures regardless of justification within a given time
span. As with the protection of maternity in CEDAW article 4.2,
which is not considered a temporary measure, there are similarly valuable
measures in disability policy that should be maintained.
The Coordinator asked whether the concern is a temporal
one, that the language may perpetuate particular treatment over a long
period of time. If so, this concern should be eased by the phrase about
discontinuance when no longer justified.
EU offered the example of a school creating special
measures for students with disabilities. In this case, the aim is to
integrate the students and allow them to finish their education, not
to maintain a separate standard.
Chile also offered an example: a bill providing for
PWD to get assistance in voting. This is an example of a special measure
which will end when it is no longer necessary, that is, when electronic
voting machines can be made available.
Costa Rica does not understand the purpose of this
phrase. It understands the EU’s explanation, but it does not find it
relevant. The intent of 7.5 is not to create an unequal or separate
standard. Article 7 is about non-discrimination. First, it makes clear
that all persons are equal before the law. Next, it describes measures
to assure equality. Finally, 7.5 describes measures specifically to
accelerate de facto equality. There is no intent to create separate
or unequal measures.
Serbia and Montenegro supported the inclusion of 7.5,
with no qualifier so as to avoid the problems of the terms “special”
or “positive." It endorsed Canada’s proposal to change "as
defined in the present Convention" to “on the basis of disability.”
It supported keeping the second part of 7.5. Serbia and Montenegro has
an election law under which, if a PWD is unable to go out to vote due
to access problems, a member of the voting commission can go to the
person’s home to facilitate voting. This is not separate; it enables
voting. Another provision allows the nation's employers to apply for
money to make jobs accessible to a PWD. This, too, is not separate,
but is a measure enabling equality.
Korea supported the WG text, and keeping the discontinuance
clause; otherwise the measures could be “too special.” This Convention
is about equal rights, not special rights.
The Coordinator pointed out that the Spanish translation
for "standard" is "regime." In Chile’s example of
voting assistance, the means (regime) may be different, but there is
no unequal standard. In the education example, the means of test-taking
may be different for PWD, but the standard is the same. Because 7.5
is permissive, not obligatory -- that is, it says that States may take
special measures, not that they must -- it would not impose limits on
the types of special measures States can take. Deleting the last phrase
would not imply that States are required to implement unequal or separate
standards; it would simply remove the prohibition on unequal or separate
standards. A compromise must be achieved.
Mexico agreed with Canada’s historical comments regarding
this phrase. At that time, when these other Conventions were being drafted,
one had to be careful not to open the door to legitimation of apartheid-type
regimes. While Mexico agrees with Japan’s concerns, it questions whether
the proposed language change would address these concerns. Japan's proposal
to delete the last part of 7.5, in Mexico's opinion, could mean that
it wants to create permanent measures if necessary. Mexico believes
7.5 as written requires States to consider whether measures are still
needed. It suggested sending this issue to the facilitator.
The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
stated this phrase was intended to address discrimination based on prejudice,
not objective difference in ability. It assures States that requirements
would not be lowered. For example, switchboard operators might be required
to speak three languages. A law requiring that blind people be hired
for 10% of switchboard operator positions would not require reducing
the language requirements. There would have to be some reasonable accommodations.
The OHCHR added that Japan may be thinking of reasonable accommodations
The Coordinator asked the OHCHR whether confusion
about the translated words "standard" and "regime"
has had any consequences. The OHCHCR was unaware of
translation choices. This phrase avoids creating a separate category
where a group of people who are perceived to be less qualified could
actually have lesser qualifications. For example, a law establishing
a quota, so that 10% of all posts must be filled by Group A, does not
create a different regime; however, if a State reserves specific posts
for Group A, this does create a different regime because it closes off
options for others. Similarly, in the context of gender and race, this
phrase was included as a reassurance that the preference was meant to
combat prejudice, not to create different qualifications.
The Coordinator asked if the general sense of the
room was that when a State takes special measures to accelerate equality
for PWD, those special measures should not establish the maintenance
of unequal or separate standards. And if that is what this group believes,
then is there any reason not to leave this phrase in?
Costa Rica asked if this group needed all these explanations.
What does this phrase add? Although it understands the purpose of the
phrase, Costa Rica argued that the phrase is out of context here. De
facto equality does not mean separate or unequal standards. It asked
that this phrase be discussed in depth at a later time.
The Coordinator responded that it depends on what
one means by defacto equality -- a specific objective or a broad objective.
In the employment context, lower standards in some jobs to accelerate
employment of PWD could lead to positive outcomes. The issue is whether
this is desirable. The Coordinator's sense of the room is that this
language is in the article because this group does not want lower standards.
He disagreed with Costa Rica that the term “de facto equality” eliminates
the possibility of different standards.
ARTICLE 7: EQUALITY AND NON-DISCRIMINATION (CONTINUED)
The Russian Federation pointed out that discussions
were held during lunch; it asked to know the outcome of those discussions.
The Coordinator responded that informal discussions
have advanced the issue, but no conclusions about language have been
reached. In consideration of the Spanish translation issue, it was agreed
to use the word "standard." The Coordinator opened the floor
for discussions on the final phrase in 7.5, “those measures shall be
discontinued when the objectives of equality of opportunity and treatment
have been achieved.” There was Japan’s alternative language, shortened
to read "those measures should be discontinued when they are no
longer justified." Another suggested alternative phrase was “those
measures should be discontinued when their objective has been reached.”
The Russian Federation agreed that the text should
not be overburdened with adjectives; therefore, it supports the word
"measures" without descriptors. It prefers “measures aimed
at speeding de facto equality.” It does not understand what separate
standards are. When a person votes with assistance, ordinarily there
could be a privacy issue; however in this case, a different or separate
standard is applied, because this is the only way this person is able
to vote. The phrase about separate standards is too strict and could
be confusing. It questioned the use of the term “de facto” and asked
if other Conventions used this term. It prefers discussing norms or
standards designed to achieve the earliest possible attainment of basic
human rights, free from discrimination due to disability.
The Coordinator informed the group that CEDAW 4.1
uses the term "de facto." He reiterated that he believes the
word "standard" may be the issue. In the voting example, PWD
benefited from separate treatment, not separate standards. The CEDAW
language probably fits the Ad Hoc Committee's needs best. One issue
needing more clarity involves deciding when measures should be discontinued.
There are two proposals: the WG draft and Japan's proposal, neither
of which gained support. The third proposal was created informally.
The Coordinator observed that there is consensus that when a degree
of equality is realized in a particular area, a measure should be discontinued.
Uruguay stated that if the phrase regarding "the
maintenance of unequal or separate standards..." stays in the document,
it makes the paragraph inconsistent because it asks States to take measures
but not to maintain them. It proposed “but in no way entail the maintenance
of (unequal or separate) standards once the objective of equality of
opportunity and treatment have been achieved.”
The Coordinator stated that the language proposed
by Uruguay would change the meaning of the paragraph significantly,
allowing different/lower standards to be used. The original text stated
that although a State could use positive measures, standards could not
Uruguay answered that that was not its intent. However,
it does believe that in order to achieve equality, many countries will
need to establish unequal standards at first. It was agreed that this
was a language issue ("standard" vs. "regime").
The group agreed to retain the phrase.
The Coordinator moved the discussion to the last phrase
of 7.5, relating to how long measures should be continued.
Jordan stated the objective is not to introduce further
inequality, but to remove obstacles in the way of equality for PWD.
The Coordinator referred 7.5 to the facilitator from
Liechtenstein. He reiterated the agreement that had been reached on
this paragraph (above), but added that the wording needs work. He then
moved on to 5(bis).
Ghana introduced 5(bis) (c) & (d) (http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/enable/rights/ahc4da7.htm)
and stated they were drawn from the EU’s earlier proposal, 3(bis), which
the EU wrote to replace Article 7. The African group proposed 5(bis)
(c) & (d) to strengthen Article 7. It wants to integrate economic
and social development plans and policies to deal with problems of discrimination.
States Parties could further guarantee the equal treatment of PWD by
ensuring public authorities and institutions act in conformity with
this Article. To that end, 5(bis) (c) & (d) address specific measures
that States could take. It reads: "5(bis). In order to secure non-discrimination
of persons with disabilities, States Parties undertake in particular:
(c) States shall ensure that the needs and concerns of persons with
disabilities are incorporated into economic and social development plans
and policies, and not treated separately; (d) to refrain from engaging
in any act or practice of discrimination against persons with disabilities
and to ensure that public authorities and institutions act in conformity
with this obligation."
The Coordinator pointed out that there had been language
on mainstreaming in Article 4, and that the ideas in 5(bis) might fit
better in that article. The issue of where these paragraphs should be
placed can be dealt with later. The proposed language for 7(bis) --
"To ensure the right to equality for all persons with disabilities,
States Parties shall take positive measures to benefit all persons with
disabilities" -- seems to be redundant with 7.5. Ghana
responded that 7(bis) was not proposed by the African Group. The
Coordinator pointed out that 5(bis)(c) was the same idea as
in 4.1(c), mainstreaming disability issues into rural, economic, and
social development policies and programs. He added that 4.1(d) is similar
to 5(bis)(d). He suggested that these proposals be taken up when Article
4 is discussed. Ghana stated it would like to discuss
5(bis) in the context of Article 7, and then discuss whether 5(bis)
belongs in Article 4. The Coordinator promised that
5(bis) would not be lost, but the group would discuss it at a later
ARTICLE 8: RIGHT TO LIFE
The Coordinator noted that although quite brief and
apparently superficial, Article 8's issues are complex and important.
He identified two major issues. First is the question of whether the
Article should contain a reference to treating PWD “on a basis of equality
with others,” echoing the language found in ICCPR Article 6, first sentence.
Second, the Committee must decide whether to include protections for
PWD during times when populations are at high risk, including armed
conflict, natural disaster, refugee situations or mass displacement.
Jordan proposed strengthening the Article and including
special circumstances by adding "for the protection of the life
of PWD in cases of disaster, war, occupation, and other similar critical
Costa Rica asked about the outcome of previous regional
meetings and negotiations on this Article. It understood there was quite
a bit of support for amending this Article with language proposed by
Costa Rica and accepted by other States.
The Facilitator for Article 8 confirmed that discussions
had produced an understanding that the Costa Rican proposal was a good
one. However, no formal meetings had occurred, just informal contacts.
Yemen explained that its amendment to Article 8 would
recognize the needs of PWD living in countries which suffer disasters
natural or manmade, including war, colonization, settlement and foreign
occupation. It agreed with Jordan that this Article needs to be seen
in the context of human rights and agreed with Lebanon and Palestine
about adding foreign occupation.
New Zealand stated that it believes the concerns of
Yemen and Jordan would be best satisfied by a reaffirmation of the right
to life, staying as close as possible to the language in Article 6 ICCPR.
Any attempts to elaborate will open gaps in this inherent right because
it is impossible to include in a list every situation putting PWD at
higher risk. It prefers more general language, without specifics aiming
to cover all situations. If the Committee chooses the wording “and shall
take all necessary measures to ensure its effective enjoyment by them,”
it prefers to add “on an equal basis with others.” It would not support
India's proposed addition, “States Parties shall ensure to the maximum
extent possible the survival and development of PWD." New Zealand
prefers a very brief statement. It does not favor the U.S. formulation
about disability, perceived quality of life, and infringement of the
right to life.
The Coordinator noted that the Convention on the Rights
of the Child (CRC) contains protections on development and survival.
[Remainder of Coordinator response not recorded on tape]
Canada agreed with New Zealand, that the Article should
be kept simple and clear, and that the concepts of "survival and
development" do not belong in it. It does not want this Article
to include ideas better dealt with in the Preamble, such as those relating
to conflict and natural disaster. Canada agreed on the importance of
having an article reaffirming life, but believes it should use ICCPR
or the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) as a framework.
This is an individual right which is not reflected in the WG text; therefore
“all PWD” should be changed to “each PWD.” It also prefers not to include
"perceived quality of life" as proposed by the US because
this will involve complicated discussions and may lead to less then
Syria stated that the language in the WG text is too
general and does not deal with important aspects of the issue. This
article must address difficult cases, the tangible realities that States
must deal with, like conflict and natural disaster. The objective of
this article is to invite States to strive to afford PWD protection
of the right to life.
India stated that the Article is clear and powerful
but would like to include a clause on particular risks such as natural
Kenya said that PWD need more protections than those
already included in other human rights Conventions. PWD in high-risk
situations need extra protection, and this protection should be addressed
in Article 8; however Kenya prefers not to enumerate all the risk situations.
Survival and development should be included in the Article. The Convention
concerns PWD. It should not be seen as a generic document which may
not capture the needs of PWD.
El Salvador stated that everyone has the right to
life from conception and this should be recognized in the Article.
Yemen stated that although it appreciates New Zealand
and Canada’s points on the importance of being brief, brevity is a means,
not an end. The Committee needs to understand why brevity is important.
It agreed with Syria regarding the inclusion of special situations such
as armed conflict, foreign occupation, imperialism, internal domestic
conflict, tribal and other conflicts. It disagreed with other States
who want the issue of armed conflict in a separate Article, since conflict
can be internal or external. Natural disaster is a different issue.
If brevity is needed, perhaps an explanatory footnote could be added.
This is not information for information's sake, but is designed to tell
States how certain situations should be handled. In the case of natural
disasters, some PWD will have no means to take care of their needs;
therefore this Convention must be binding, and must explain States’
responsibilities in such situations in black and white terms.
Palestine agreed with Syria and Yemen. Article 8 is
important but needs expansion to include protections for civilians in
areas of armed conflict, including foreign conflict. PWD are extremely
vulnerable in these settings and their right to life must be protected.
South Africa supported the principle of brevity for
this article, but wants to guard against the omission of key elements
that may compromise the principle of the right to life. It reiterated
its position that this is the most fundamental right. It supported Argentina’s
language, “States Parties recognize that any person with disabilities
has an inherent right to life” and supported Jordan’s addition of “armed
conflict and natural disasters,” but it suggested replacing the term
“armed conflict” with a more inclusive term which can cover all manmade
disasters. It referred to the wording proposed by Costa Rica and others
-- "States Parties reaffirm the inherent right to life of all persons
and shall take all necessary measures to ensure its effective enjoyment
by PWD." This formulation includes the ideas contained in India's
proposed addition, taken from language in the CRC, about the “the survival
and development of PWD." Therefore this addition is unnecessary
and should be omitted for the sake of brevity.
Serbia and Montenegro stated if PWD do not have the
right to life, all other rights have no meaning. It supported the comments
made by New Zealand and Canada and supported the WG text with the addition
of New Zealand's suggested language “on the basis of equality with others.”
EU expressed support for the WG text of Article 8.
It agreed with Canada that the Article should be brief and avoid listing
situations which may confront PWD. It supported New Zealand’s addition.
It is interested in Canada’s suggestion to add natural disasters to
the preamble, but will not take a position at this time.
Iran called the right to life the most fundamental
right for PWD. Further protection is needed and therefore armed conflict
and occupation should be included. It is interested in Canada’s suggestion
to move the mention of natural disasters to the Preamble, but adds that
Article 8 is also an appropriate place for this issue. In other documents,
the most important cases are usually listed after the general wording.
Iran supports the listing because PWD are unable to move quickly in
times of war, conflict, foreign occupation and natural disasters and
need special attention. It also believes the terms used in other international
legal documents should be used in this Convention.
Mexico said it prefers the WG text because it is general
and states the right clearly. It supports Canada’s proposal to change
“all PWD” to “each PWD.” Special or difficult situations in which PWD
may need protections are important, but do not belong in Article 8.
A separate article may be needed.
Norway endorsed the WG text. There are situations
where PWD are particularly at risk, and the WG text encompasses all
these situations. The text is brief but broad, which is stronger than
a listing would be. A list would make consensus more difficult to reach.
Australia supported Norway’s position and stated that
brevity is a strength not a weakness. The right to life article is written
so it is an absolute obligation, not a generic obligation. Attempting
to list cases would weaken the provision by diluting and politicizing
an absolute obligation which no one could disagree with. Australia supports
keeping the WG text, but would consider New Zealand’s proposal.
Japan agreed with New Zealand, Canada, Norway and
Australia. It stated that these two elements, the inherent right to
life and the protection of PWD in difficult situations, should be dealt
with in different parts of the Convention. The right to life should
be kept as pure and brief as possible, following the example of the
ICCPR. If this Convention adds more ideas, it could change the meaning
of the ICCPR. However, Japan understands the need to stress difficult
situations and that is already in paragraph (p) of the Preamble. Japan
supports the WG text. It is open to the possibility of a separate article
to deal with difficult situations, but would prefer to keep this issue
in the Preamble.
The Coordinator asked for comments on Canada’s proposal
to make the right to life an individual right by changing "all
PWD" to "each PWD."
Thailand expressed support for the WG text including
the proposal by New Zealand to add the words “on an equal basis with
others.” It agreed with Mexico and Japan that protection of PWD in difficult
situations should be placed either in the Preamble or in a separate
article, particularly after the recent tsunami. Many people were disabled
by the tsunami and many PWD were victimized. It hopes that text can
be written to deal effectively with situations such as natural disasters.
Costa Rica joined in supporting the comments of Canada,
New Zealand, the EU, Mexico, Japan and others, that including a list
would weaken the provisions of this Article. These issues should be
included in other areas of the text. Because people with disabilities'
inherent right to life is no different from anyone else's, the words
“all PWD” should be replaced by “all persons,” and “them” should be
replaced by “PWD” (A/AC265/2004/5, page 21). It also supported the Canadian
The Coordinator asked for comments on Costa Rica’s
proposal, which reads: “States Parties reaffirm the inherent right to
life of all persons and shall take all necessary measures to ensure
its effective enjoyment by persons with disabilities.”
The United States of America stated that it needs
to study Costa Rica’s proposal but initially supported it. It also initially
supports New Zealand’s proposal. It is pleased with the universal support
for including this Article. It has proposed revising the article to
read as follows: "States Parties reaffirm the inherent right to
life of all persons with disabilities, shall take all necessary measures
to ensure its effective enjoyment by them, and shall ensure that disability,
or perceived quality of life, shall not serve as a basis for infringement
of the right to life." It explained that it proposed this language
because the Article as drafted may not cover the treatment of infants
born with severe disabilities. The concern is that these infants are
not given full treatment and full respect of their right to life based
on the perception that their quality of life will not be the same as
those without disabilities.
Bahrain stated that the world has seen many disasters,
most recently the tsunami a month ago which killed and displaced many
people. There are also many conflicts in the world. These disasters
generate many disabilities. This is why there should be mention in the
text of protection of PWD from such natural disasters, occupations,
and armed conflict. This Article deals with the most basic right, the
right to life.
Libya stated that most UN resolutions give attention
to vulnerable groups including PWD. In natural disasters, armed conflict
or occupations, PWD are more vulnerable than others. Therefore this
Article should be expanded to include these concepts.
Jordan stated that all articles should be brief and
yet there are many details in other articles; these should be redrafted
and made more concise. Article 8 addresses a fundamental, basic and
self-evident right. It should cover basic difficulties faced by PWD;
this will not make the text too long or too detailed. It should mention
the grave dangers faced by PWD including natural disasters and manmade
conflicts and crises. It supported the comments made by the U.S., and
it supported Canada's proposed language change.
Russian Federation endorsed Article 8 as a fundamental
right, reflected in ICCPR and CRC. The Article's brevity is its strength.
The Russian Federation is willing to consider adding specific situations,
conflict and protection of PWD. Both the ICCPR and CRC speak about the
right of each individual to life; this Article should be changed to
mirror those Conventions.
Yemen asserted that the reference to special circumstances
should be in another paragraph, and this would not weaken this Article.
Adding this reference to the Preamble would make the Preamble too long.
It supported the positions of Syria, Libya and Jordan.
Jamaica stated that the right to life already exists
in other Conventions. This Convention is reaffirming for PWD a right
already enjoyed by others. Jamaica therefore supports Costa Rica’s proposal,
as well as New Zealand’s proposal which adds “on an equal basis with
others.” In Jamaica’s disaster plans, PWD were disadvantaged because
some could not hear the announcements and some could not read the booklets.
Therefore, the issue of disasters should be dealt with, but not in Article
8. This issue could be added to Article 13.
The meeting was adjourned.
The Fifth Ad Hoc Committee Daily Summaries is a public service by RI*,
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