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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 present.

The Agenda and Organization of Work was adopted as a guide for the Committee’s work.

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.



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 and treatment.”

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.

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

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 “special measures.”

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 end.

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 entail..." language.

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.

Japan said 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 (RA).

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.




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 be lowered.

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) ( 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 time.


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 situations.”

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 positive outcomes.

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 disasters.

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 proposal.

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.


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* The Daily Summaries do not reflect the views of Rehabilitation International.

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Department of Economic and Social Affairs
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