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Back to: Sixth Session of the Ad Hoc Committee
Summaries of the Sixth Session

Daily summary of discussion at the sixth session
05 August 2005


Original MS Word version
Languages: French

UN Convention on the Human Rights of People with Disabilities
Ad Hoc Committee - Daily Summaries

A service brought to you by RI (Rehabilitation International)

Volume 7, #5
August 05, 2005






The Chair noted the overlap between this article and others. Various proposals have been made at earlier meetings about moving elements of Article 19 to other parts of the Convention, and bringing parts of other articles into Article 19. There is a broad overlap between Articles 19 and 20. There are different views among the delegations over whether to expand or to contract Article 19. Some delegations are concerned that Article 19 has too much detail, raising the risk that anything not listed will be excluded. The Committee needs to decide where the important issue of training for people who work with PWD should be placed. Currently this issue is addressed in 19(2)(h); some have suggested addressing it in Article 5 or elsewhere. There was general agreement that the issue of research, development and production of new assistive technologies, currently addressed in 19(2)(e), should instead be dealt with in 4(1)(f), and a new 4(1)(g). There was also agreement that 19(2)(g), dealing with consultation with organizations of PWD, should be placed in 4(2). He pointed out that the same issue came up when discussing 18(c), participation in political life. The Committee also agreed to consider whether 13(e), "promoting other appropriate forms of assistance and support to PWD to ensure their access to information, including supporting and where appropriate, developing training programs for assistants, intermediaries, interpreters, notetakers and readers" should be moved to Article 19 or Article 17. There was general agreement that the ideas presented by the Article 13 facilitator should be considered for incorporation in Article 19 (see para 89 of the AHC5 Coordinator’s report, and the facilitator's text The cost of access is much less if included in the initial design.
At the end of this process, the Committee will examine the text for overlapping provisions, duplications, and gaps. While the proposal of the facilitator for this Article – Serbia-Montenegro - has been distributed (, the basis of discussion remains the WG text.

Mexico agreed with the Chair and called for a broad approach to accessibility without details that may become restrictive, and without duplicating ideas already contained in other articles. However, some of Article 20's elements could be moved to Article 19. For example, 19(2)(e) duplicates 20(c). These two provisions could be consolidated in Article 19 or in Article 4. In addition 19(2)(h), concerning training, duplicates 20(d); these could also be consolidated. In fact all the provisions relating to personal mobility from Article 20, such as 20(a), should be incorporated into Article 19 to avoid duplication.

South Africa, speaking for the African Group, stated that accessibility is the main prerequisite for equal participation of PWDs in mainstream society. It proposed that the chapeau of 19(1) be changed to take resource issues into account, by replacing "take appropriate measures" with "take measures progressively." It also proposed replacing "obstacles" with "barriers," which has a broader meaning - physical, systemic and attitudinal. The chapeau of 19(2) should be changed to read, "States Parties shall also take measures progressively to:" The provisions related to public buildings, facilities, and services, contained in 19(1)(a) and (2)(b), and 19(2)(a), (2)(b), (2)(c), and (2)(d), should be extended to all buildings intended for public use. Subparagraph 19(2)(d) should be changed to read, "Ensure that all private entities in general, which do not render public services or cater to the public, take into account all aspects of accessibility for PWDs." This would refer to all buildings, not just buildings for public use. Private entities must be encouraged to create access. In 19(2)(b), the word "personal assistance" is preferable to "live assistance," because it refers to an actual person. Subparagraph 19(2)(e) should be changed to read, "Promote, and where appropriate undertake and disseminate research, development and production, including localization of new assistive technologies, giving priority to low cost technologies.” PWD should be extensively consulted before new technologies are researched and developed. Only once consensus has been reached should research into such research take place. Assistive technologies should be produced locally. The term "affordably priced" is more relative than "low cost." Subparagraph 19(2)(g) should be amended to read, "Ensure that organizations and families of persons with disabilities are consulted and fully involved from inception in the formulation of legislation, regulations, standards and guidelines in relation to accessibility.”

Israel suggested keeping this article general with information on all kinds of disabilities and based on international standards. It should specify the obligation to make accessible to PWD services provided to the general public with no differentiation between public and private entities. Access to information should be dealt with in a separate article. Israel proposed several amendments based partly on the IDC draft. A new, additional chapeau should read: "1. States Parties shall provide PWD, through legislation and regulation, in accordance to international standards, the same range and standard of accessibility as is provided to all other persons for enabling full participation and enjoyment of all aspects of life.” In the existing WG chapeau, Israel proposed the following changes: The word "all" should be inserted before the phrase "persons with disabilities"; the phrase "existing and newly planned" should be inserted before "built environment"; the phrase "open spaces" should be inserted after "built environment"; and the words "offered to the public" should be inserted after "services.” Paragraph 19(2) should have four subparagraphs, dealing with public buildings, housing, services, and information. The new 19(2)(d) would read "public information published as: mass media, informational materials and documents in easily understandable accessible and useable formats and languages in a timely manner supplied by public and private enterprises and without additional cost to the PWD.” The focus should be on the intended recipient of the service, not on who delivers the service. Israel proposed 3 additional subparas elaborating on the WG text’s 19.2(g) and (h) on consultation with PWD and the training and qualifications of professionals.

Thailand reaffirmed that accessibility for PWD should be based on the concept of universal design and assistive technologies. Accessibility to the built environment, information and communication (including technologies), public transportation and other services must be guaranteed to PWD without discrimination. Accessibility must be applied to all goods and services intended for public use, no matter who provides or owns the services. To maintain the openness and sustainability of accessibility, Thailand is committed to the development, promotion and adoption of international accessibility standards. It could support merging Articles 19 and 20 as long as the substance remains the same. It also supports consolidating elements of Articles13, 19, and 20 on research and development and consultation with PWD into Article 4.

China noted that while Article 13 deals with communication and information exchange, the issue merits further emphasis so as to ensure that, in the age of the information society, PWD are not excluded from media and modernization. Accordingly 19.1(c) should therefore obligate states to take positive measures in the area of "research, development and promotion of the accessibility of information and related technologies." In addition, the chapeau should recognize that accessibility is related to the technological and economic development level of a country and its resources and should begin: "State Parties shall take positive measures to progressively eliminate obstacles and barriers to ensure accessibility..."

The Chair noted that the idea of progressive implementation had been brought up again. Accessibility is an economic, social, and cultural right, and so progressive realization would be appropriate; however, there are also elements of a civil and political right, freedom of expression; therefore Article 19 is something of a hybrid. South Africa and China have suggested addressing this in the chapeau. The Chair inquired about the need for a general provision relating to economic, social and cultural rights, as found in CRC. A second issue facing the Committee, as noted in footnote 69, concerns private buildings. There are three types of buildings: public buildings owned by state or local governments, about which there is general consensus regarding the obligation to make accessible; private buildings open for public use, which are also covered, but about which the WG raised questions concerning the applicability of the Convention; and private buildings, which the WG text does not cover. The Africa Group's proposed language, "ensure that all private entities in general, which do not render public services or cater to the public," encompasses private buildings, presumably including private homes. The Chair asked whether applying the Convention's provisions to all private buildings may impose too great a burden on governments? This burden can be progressively realized, and so may be workable. He asked the Committee to consider this balance.

Canada stated that Article 19 is moving in the right direction by calling for the removal of existing barriers which impede full, equal, and effective participation by PWD, and the prevention of future ones. The Convention must go beyond describing specific barrier removal measures. Accessibility should be included as a fundamental principle in Article 2, as a general obligation in Article 4, and in Article 7 as related to the principles of equality and non-discrimination. Accessibility is addressed by measures in Articles 13, 19, 20, and 24. Articles 19 and 20 should be consolidated to reduce unnecessary overlap and repetition; this should also help strike a balance between general accessibility provisions and enumerating currently identifiable barriers. In chapeaus of both 19(1) and 19(2), the words "and effective" should be inserted after "appropriate" and before "measures.” Canada noted that the word "effective" appears in the chapeau of Article 20. The words "and to information" should be inserted at the end of 19(2)(b), thus placing the content of 13(2)(e) in Article 19. Subparagraph 19(2)(e) should be deleted because the issue of affordable technology should be addressed in Article 4 instead. The issue of universally designed goods, services, and equipment, mentioned in 19(2)(f), is already covered in 4(1)(f), though the wording may need improvement. The provision for consultation of persons with disabilities, currently addressed in 19(2)(g), could be more effectively covered in Article 4(2). Federal states could face challenges in implementing 19(2)(c), regarding national standards; Canada offered to provide relevant language. It stated that mobility, as envisaged in a different sense by Article 12 of the ICCPR, has been introduced into Article 15, and is also covered in Article 7 in a more general way. However, Canada remains open to considering mobility issues under another appropriate article.

Jordan suggested moving this Article closer to the beginning of the Convention. It agreed that the important factor in accessibility is not who owns a building, but who uses it. Services should be accessible to all, regardless of a building’s ownership, given the number of services that are now provided by the private sector. Some of the issues mentioned in Article 19, such as research, development, and consultation with PWD, are repetitive and should be moved other articles. Jordan supports merging Article 19 with Article 20.

Jamaica agreed with Mexico to merge and transfer some of this Article's provisions and noted overlap between Articles 19 and 20. If countries would adopt construction codes, accessibility problems would be solved for both private and public buildings. It suggested adding to 19(2)(d), "State Parties should undertake to establish national building codes with necessary accessibility features.” It questioned South Africa's proposal regarding low-cost technology and equipment. The cost of equipment is a matter of economics, of demand and supply. Out of 600 million PWD, probably fewer than three million can afford the technology they need. Business owners are not eager to get into a business with low demand. An accessible environment will mean more PWD with education, training and employment, who would then be in a better to buy what they need. When this occurs, prices will decrease.

Chile supported Mexico's proposal to merge relevant parts Article of 20 into Article 19. Article 20 refers to the fundamental right of personal mobility while Article 19 refers to accessibility and discusses certain ways to make that right operational. The WG text discusses the different forms of access, not only physical accessibility. Chile endorsed Canada's proposal to incorporate the principle of accessibility and universal design into Article 2. Paragraph 19(1) should mention different modes of transportation, such as land, air, sea, where discrimination occurs. It also proposed incorporating culture as an important component of accessibility. This Convention should be a vanguard for new legal rights and 19(1) should recognize accessible technologies as a right for PWD, not a luxury, in order to make rehabilitation and employment a reality. Chile agrees that private buildings used for public use should be covered in 1(a), as this would create employment opportunities. Support staff and other intermediaries should be mentioned in 19(1)(a) as well as in 19(2)(b). The standards and guidelines in 19(2)(c) should also refer to private institutions providing public services, and should address access to evacuation procedures, emergency preparedness, and disaster planning, as these systems often exclude PWD. Paragraph 19(2)(f) should clearly promote the “concept, principles and implementation” of universal design. Paragraph 19(2)(h) should be broadened to include education and general training for people at all levels, not just stakeholders. There is a link between 20(f), which discusses information provided to PWD, and Article 19. All aspects of information should be addressed, but Article 19 should require information provided to PWD to be in accessible formats. The paragraphs should be consistent with each other.

Republic of Korea repeated its proposal from AHC3 to amend 19(1)(b) to read: "Devise policies and necessary technologies in order to make public transportation accessible to PWD and develop special transportation services for PWD as complementary measures to accessible public transportation.” Access to pubic transportation, including buses, trains, and aircraft, is just as important as access to buildings. Access should be created by assuring that buses have lifts and low floors. The term "facilities," used in 19(1)(b), does not cover transportation. Special transportation services should be developed for persons with severe disabilities who are unable to use the regular bus system. Articles 19 and 20 are different in content; there should be more detailed discussion before merging the two.

Croatia proposed amending the chapeau of 19(1) by replacing the phrase "accessibility for PWD" with the words "the same range and standards of accessibility to PWD as is provided to other persons,” in order to be more consistent with the idea of equality. It also proposed strengthening the wording of 19(2)(d) to read as follows: "Require private entities that provide public facilities and services to ensure full accessibility for PWD to the facilities and services they provide." Privately owned buildings need to be dealt with here as well. While some of the issues in 19(2)(g) are also addressed in other articles, accessibility is a core issue, and so should also be dealt with in this Article. Croatia supports the IDC's proposed changes to 19(1)(c): "Ensure that organizations of PWD are consulted and participate in the research, development, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of accessibility guidelines, regulations and standards.” .

Japan agreed that this Article should be implemented progressively, but this concept should be dealt with in a more consistent, integrated manner, perhaps by placing it in Article 4 as suggested by the Chair. Regarding private and public buildings, what matters is not who owns the buildings, but who uses them; Japan prefers the language "buildings and facilities for public use.” It agreed with Canada that accessibility is not only for existing buildings but also those for future generations. Therefore, it proposed changing the chapeau of 19(1) by inserting after the word "obstacles" the words "to prevent the creation of new barriers.” It agreed with the Chair's suggestion that the Article should not contain enumerations because that could make issues exclusive rather than inclusive.

The EU agreed that the scope of the article should be broadened to require access to goods and services provided to the public, not just public services. As suggested by Canada and Mexico, Articles 19 and 20 contain numerous duplications, and so should be linked or combined. The EU agrees with Chair=s suggestion of a general provision addressing progressive realization. The EU's changes are online at . In order to link accessibility with the removal of barriers and independent living and to incorporate South Africa's and Chile's ideas, the 19(1) chapeau should be changed to read: "States Parties to this Convention shall take appropriate measures to ensure accessibility, including by identifying and eliminating barriers (inter alia architectural, sensorial and cultural) and shall promote equal access to information and means and modes of communication, to enable PWD to live independently and to participate fully in all aspects of life.” Then 19(1)(a) and (b) could be deleted because their broad wording on barriers would be included in the chapeau. The 19(2) chapeau should be made more open-ended to read: "These measures shall include:" because the current language could suggest an inclusive list and there will be innovations in the future. Subparagraph 19(2)(a) is too detailed, and contains ideas already covered elsewhere; it should therefore be deleted. The current language in 19(2)(b) should be replaced with "ensuring access by PWD to services and facilities provided to the public on an equal basis with others, including through the provision of reasonable accommodation;.” Following comments of South Africa and Japan, this emphasizes who uses the buildings instead of who owns them. In order to broaden 19(2)(c) beyond public services, the language should be changed to "developing, promulgating and monitoring implementation of national minimum standards and guidelines for the accessibility of facilities and services to which members of the public have access.” Para 2(d) can be retained. Also, 19(2)(e) and (g) should be deleted and the concepts they addressed together with research and development and consultation. The provisions in 19(2)(f) should be expanded to make clear that universal design must meet the needs of PWD in order to be effective, and should be changed to read: "promoting the development, availability and use of universally designed goods, services, equipment and facilities to meet the specific needs of PWD and promoting universal design in the development of standards and guidelines.”

Yemen stressed that the Convention should “guarantee” the protection of rights, not just “encourage” it. Subparagraph 19(2)(b) should mention "moral persons." In 19(2)(e), the word Ascientific@ should be inserted before "research" in order to clarify the type of research. In 19(2)(e), "low cost" is preferable to "affordable.” In 19(2)(g), the language should make clear that organizations of PWD must “participate”, not just be consulted in the design of laws, rules and regulations. The title of this Article, "Accessibility," is ambiguous and should be longer and clearer. As stated by Jordan and the Chair, the Article should focus on the users of buildings, who should decide on their accessibility. In some countries, States may not be able to impose regulations on private companies; the Article may need language that would encourage private owners to provide accessible facilities. Yemen noted that the Chair had proposed a gradual or progressive system.

Uruguay supported Mexico's proposal to remove duplication from Articles 19 and 20, particularly 20(c) and (d). Paragraph 20(a) contains an important concept which needs to be in Article 19. It agreed with Chile that Article 19 establishes the means of assuring personal mobility; therefore personal mobility should be dealt with in Article 19. Drafters should be careful not to imply that this Convention covers only people with physical disabilities. The EU's wording may assist in this. As proposed by Canada, a general statement regarding accessibility should be included in Article 2.

Argentina agreed with Mexico's proposals to move paragraph 20(a) to Article 19, and to merge 20(c) and 20(d) with corresponding provisions in that Article. The last sentence of the first paragraph should clearly state that the obligations in this article apply to private buildings and services which are available for public use. Access to information is important for the enjoyment of rights, and this refers not just to accessible formats and language, but also to the presentation of the information. States should take measures to publicize the accessibility of available services. In 19(2)(a), the word "adequate" should be inserted before "signage.” In 19(2)(d), the term "encourage" is too weak, and should be replaced with a stronger terms such as "urge" or "commit to," in order to ensure access to private entities. Access features should be required for new or remodeled facilities. Argentina agreed with Costa Rica and Chile that in 19(h), training requirements should be broadened to include all people who provide care and services to PWD.

Liechtenstein supported merging Articles 19 and 20 because access and mobility are two sides of same issue. If access is created and PWD have no mobility or, if PWD have mobility but there is no access, then the efforts will have been useless. This is the first time a legally binding document has mentioned accessibility, so this document should focus on the general principle and give States room to implement it. Progressive realization should be dealt with in Article 4. There is no need to treat the right to accessibility any differently from any other rights which require great resources to implement; mentioning progressive realization here could weaken this Article. The term "public use" should be used in describing the criteria for where accessibility requirements apply. The most private areas should not require access; this would waste resources. The EU's proposed chapeau should be adopted because it first states the principle of accessibility, then mentions removal of obstacles as one means to that end. However, the EU's proposal does not specify the target area of accessibility, which should be very broadly defined, encompassing the right to go everywhere, talk to everyone, and receive everything that everyone else can. Article 19 needs to be placed much earlier in the document, perhaps with non-discrimination and right to life.

The Chair stated that Liechtenstein raised an important issue: Should this Convention define what accessibility means? The WG text uses the following language: "to ensure accessibility for persons with disabilities to the built environment, to transportation, to information and communications, including information and communications technologies, and to other services.” However, since accessibility is a principle, should it be spelled out?

Philippines agreed that accessibility is not just physical, but also includes services. In 19(1)(a), the word "repair" should be inserted between "construction" and "renovation.” In 19(2)(b), private as well as public facilities should be included. In 19(2)(d) the word "require” should replace "encourage." Subparagraph 19(2)(g) should be reworded to ensure the participation of PWD when accessibility standards are being developed. In 19(2)(h), the word "concerning" should replace "facing.”

Israel observed that there is a general consensus that public use buildings should be accessible. In response to the Chair's question regarding residential buildings such as condominiums and high rises Israel stated that these should be covered because they are for public use. Articles 19 and 20 should not be combined because this Convention tends to focus on physical accessibility, but should instead stress that accessibility also includes mental and cognitive issues. Materials should be made available in easily understandable formats.

The Chair affirmed his sense of the Committee generally opposing merging Articles 19 and 20, but favoring shifting elements from each to remove duplication.

Costa Rica supported Mexico's and Chile's proposals and the statements by Jordan and Japan. A recurring issue is the role of the user, and there seems to be a consensus that buildings and facilities should be accessible whether they are publicly or privately owned. Therefore, it generally supports the EU proposal. However, the EU's proposed language for 19(c) refers to facilities and services “to which the public has access” and Costa Rica believes these guidelines and minimum standards should apply not just to buildings which are accessible to the public, but also to those intended for public use. Further work is needed on this part of the draft. Costa Rica expressed confusion as to why the EU's proposal retains, in 19(2)(d), the language reading "encourage private entities that provide public facilities and services to take into account all aspects of accessibility," which seems to contradict the idea that any building intended for public use should be required to be accessible. Costa Rica expressed concern that none of the drafts of the chapeau, including the one proposed by EU, specify that accessibility is an obligation. The chapeau should include the following language: "of the rights and fundamental freedoms of PWD and their capacity to live independently and to participate fully in all aspects of life.” This would clarify why States Parties must undertake to ensure accessibility. The proposal by Canada has merits, including its structure and scope. There are different ways that the different articles might be coordinated. It may be possible to incorporate elements of Article 20 into Articles 19, 15, 13, and 4, in which case there would be no need for Article 20; but Costa Rica remains flexible on this issue.

Norway noted that this Article has very practical consequences for PWD, and that it should be retained in a general way to avoid excluding issues and to avoid any overlap. Public use should be the standard for accessibility; it is irrelevant who owns the building. This Article could be moved closer to the beginning of the Convention. The beginning of the WG chapeau should be changed to include the EU's proposals, as follows: "States Parties to this Convention shall take appropriate measures to ensure accessibility including by identifying and eliminating obstacles for PWD.” Both 19(1)(a) and 19(1)(b) should be retained so as to clearly identify the chapeau's elements. In addition, the EU's proposed text for 19(2)(a) to 19(2)(e) should be retained because it broadens the WG text. Finally, paras 19(2)(g) through 19(2)(h) of the WG text are not covered in the EU text, but are covered elsewhere and should therefore be deleted.

Russian Federation proposed mentioning accessibility in Article 2 as a basic principle. The chapeau of 19(1) needs to address both the elimination of current obstacles and the prevention of new obstacles. Access to rehabilitation technologies needs to be added. The list in 19(1)(a) needs to be clarified and broadened -- for example, the phrase "academic or educational institutions” should be used in place of "schools." Other items should be added to the list, including "medical and social establishments," sporting facilities, and places of recreation. At the end of 19(1)(b) should be added the words "and to the services in these facilities," to specify that not only buildings, but also services, must be accessible. All private companies that provide public services must have access, but this should be progressively realized. The possibility of merging Articles 19 and 20 should be discussed after the discussion of Article 20.

Thailand expressed the hope that everyone was sincere about wanting to apply principles of accessibility universally. Too often, when people say "goods, facilities and services" they mean only buildings. However this Convention has a broader scope. He noted that in Article 13, the Committee was unable to agree that information intended for the public must be accessible. In order to avoid double standards, the higher standards discussed here should be brought into other articles.

Serbia and Montenegro proposed several amendments to the WG text. Paragraph 19(1) should differentiate between existing barriers and potential or new barriers. Progressive measures should be taken to eliminate existing barriers, as resources are limited; while prompt measures should be taken to prevent future barriers. This approach should deal with the concerns expressed by Japan, Australia, African Group, India and Canada at AHC3. As proposed by the EU at AHC3, barriers should be defined as architectural, sensorial, and cultural. Accessible housing should be dealt with in Article 19 or in Article 23. Serbia and Montenegro also endorsed Mexico's proposed amendments to 19(2)(a) and (b) from AHC3.

Colombia supported Mexico's proposal to merge Articles 19 and 20, as long as substantive material remains, and expressed agreement with South Africa regarding the obstacles to accessibility. In May 2005, Colombia adopted an accessibility law which covers territiorial planning, housing, technical standards, design, and privately owned residential facilities intended for public use.

New Zealand supported the suggestions of Mexico, Costa Rica, and Jamaica to merge Article 20 into Article 19 and other articles. New Zealand would be satisfied with the EU wording in 19(2)(b)(bis) to insert a new para on mobility. As Canada has said, accessibility should be defined broadly to apply to more than just buildings. This Article should not be a list, but a statement of a concept, so that as noted by Liechtenstein, its provisions should apply for the future. The EU's proposed chapeau should be adopted, but replacing the word "architectural" to "environmental," and with the addition of the concept of comprehensibility. "Progressive realization" is already in Article 4, and should not be added to Article 19 or it might weaken this important article. As stated by the African group, the EU and others, this Article should be about facilities and services available to the public. NZ recommends the adoption of the EU proposal for 19(2)(e)(bis) ( with 2 amendments: to encourage the design of accessible housing for use by all people by adding "including housing" after "facilities”; and to clarify what reference to “universal design” means. NZ’s amended 19(2)(e)bis would read: "Promoting the development, availability, and use of goods, services, equipment, and facilities, including housing, that are designed to be used by all people to the greatest extent possible without the need for adaptation, and promoting such design in the development of standards and guidelines.” There should not be any unnecessary overlap or duplication; therefore 19(2)(e), (f), and (g) should be merged into Article 4, and 19(2)(h) should be merged into Article 5.

Oman stated that implementation of 19(1)(b), which deals with improving and modifying transportation services, will depend on the resources available. Therefore, the paragraph should be worded to make possible degrees of implementation. This Convention should apply to private residential and commercial buildings. The government should be able to ensure that private facilities are accessible. The Chair asked for clarification regarding private houses. Oman explained that this refers just to houses that could be rented and those occupied by PWD.

The EU agreed with Costa Rica that it is too early to discuss merging Articles 19 and 20. As suggested by the Russian Federation this should be discussed after the discussion of Article 20. The Chair agreed.

Qatar proposed adding "to the extent possible" before "take necessary measures” in the chapeau of 19. Articles19 and 20 should be merged to make the wording more succinct.

El Salvador noted that in Rule 5 of the UN Standard Rules on Equalization of Opportunities for PWD environmental and physical facilities and communication are addressed under accessibility. This article is an effective way to prevent exclusion and to enhance opportunity. It supported Costa Rica's proposal to add the phrase "ensure enjoyment of fundamental freedoms," and also supported Mexico's proposal. Elements of Article 20 which are related to accessibility should be moved to Article 19.

Malaysia endorsed the EU's proposed changes to the chapeau because the WG draft places too much emphasis on eliminating obstacles rather than ensuring accessibility. The words "on an equal basis of others" should be inserted in the chapeau’s reference enabling PWD to live independently, so as to avoid implying the creation of a new right not present in other human rights treaties. The chapeau should state that States will ensure accessibility to maximum extent possible according to their resources.

United States stated that accessibility is vital to ensuring the rights of PWD. In U.S. domestic law, accessibility is defined very broadly. The practical implications of the law were explained in a document available to delegates at the session.





Statements from NGOs and NHRIs

Rehabilitation International on behalf of the International Disability Caucus stated that accessibility requires different approaches and responses in different parts of the world, but everywhere accessibility supports the same goals, affording PWD independence and equal opportunities to participate in all aspects of life. Access applies not just to buildings, but a process linking information, communications, transportation, and the built environment. It is like a chain: one break in that chain can result in inaccessibility to many activities. Access includes all forms of information and communication, all types of transportation, access to and within existing and new private and public buildings, egress from buildings, and access to goods, services, and facilities. IDC will willingly assist in making the UN facilities and information more accessible. For example, this meeting could be much more accessible, especially to people with sensory limitations. Various articles in this Convention, including personal mobility, can be linked to access. IDC's proposals for Article 19, including two information sheets and a draft article, can be found at

Disability Australia endorsed the IDC's proposals, and agreed that accessibility does not depend on whether a service or facility is publicly owned or privately owned, but whether it is open to public. However, there is no strict distinction between private and public usage. The text refers to making publicly owned workspaces accessible, but a majority of people work in privately owned businesses, all of which are visited by members of the public. Access to work spaces is fundamental to employment; therefore privately owned work spaces should be added to 19(1)(a). Residential housing is not fully private either; it frequently changes occupancy and use. Housing is used by visitors, renters, family members, and is used for recreation and employment. The right to freely choose one’s place of residence is a fundamental right which cannot be attained without access. In addition, the rights of people without disabilities are diminished when they can't invite friends and family to visit. Allowing new housing to be built without access means creating new barriers to PWD. It is much cheaper to build with access rather than making modifications later. Access to private and public housing should be included. New housing should have minimum visitabilit requirements, including a no-step entrance and wider doors inside, and should be easily adaptable to make accessible for PWD later. Some provisions will have to be realized progressively, so the Article should refer to existing buildings. This Article must address all types of disabilities. There is a need for training for service providers and for easy to understand materials.

Disable PeopIes’ International supported the IDC's statements, and expressed concern about replacing "appropriate" with "progressive" in Article 19, because accessibility is a cross-cutting issue. Progressive realization should only apply to economic, social and cultural rights, consistent with Article 4. Making enjoyment of civil and political rights subject to progressive realization is a dangerous departure from international law and would lead to PWD having a lower standard of human rights, thus enshrining discrimination. Such proposals arise from a lack of information regarding practical access methodologies. Effective access does not need to be expensive, but does take awareness, planning and vigilance to ensure barriers are not created. Namibia, Thailand and Ghana are examples of countries aiming for cost effective accessibility through the development of programs in collaboration with disabled people.

World Blind Union supported the IDC text, and explained that 19(2)(c) of IDC draft, dealing with copyright exceptions, is designed to allow conversion of documents into a format which can be read by people whose disabilities prevent them from reading print, ie audio, Braille or easy to read. People are happy to pay for these documents, but many States' laws prohibit changing the format of documents, or make no provision for turning documents into alternative formats. This is discriminatory. The IDC draft says that States must make an exception in their national copyright law to allow conversion to alternate formats for people with reading disabilities. This would allow people to buy material, convert it to accessible formats, and distribute it to people with reading disabilities without breaking the law. Items available in electronic format with security protection would also have to be made accessible to PWD. For example, PDF documents often block text-to-speech technology.

Japan Disability Forum supported the IDC draft text. As mentioned in Footnote 69, privately owned facilities and services for public use should be covered because they often lack access. It does not support the addition of "progressive" in this article. The information needs of hard of hearing people (those who do not hear well and do not know sign language) should be addressed in 19(2) as outlined in the IDC proposal. They groups have been underrepresented so far but they represent 5% of the population.

World Federation of the Deaf supported the IDC position paper. This Convention must treat all disability groups equally. For Deaf people, accessibility is a fundamental issue, incorporating Sign language interpretation and access to information. As stated by Chile, information should be accessible in all needed forms and this should be added to 19(2)(b). In addition, the EU chapeau proposal is good but its language "modes and means of communication" does not cover the entire population of PWD. Wording similar to Article 13 should be added to the chapeau. Finally, if 19(1)(a) and (b) are not made more specific, access to sign language may be lost. This Article must not create new barriers. Access to sign language interpreters or information, for example on HIV education in Africa, is very limited. ICT is a growing reality, but many countries still do not have access. Books and other documents about Deaf people’s lives need to be translated into sign language so that they can be used. Captioning and text interpretation help not only hard of hearing people, but also some Deaf people.

Mental Disability Rights International proposed deleting from the chapeau of 19(1) the words "the focus of" because they could undermine this Article's broad intent and lead to the false conclusion that this Article's sole concern is physical access. This provision does not specifically refer to rights and liberty, just to an obligation. This is the first time that accessibility will be enshrined in an international human rights instrument, and it should be expressly recognised not just as a legal obligation but also as a right, to an accessible environment. This right needs to be in Article 4 as well as in Article 19. Progressive realization should not be spelled out in relation to any right, but should be placed in one general article. As South Africa, Croatia, Jamaica and others have stated, Article 19 should apply to all private and public entities, and strong building access codes should be created in each state party. The Convention should not refer to public/private entities or for public use. These references should be deleted from 19(1)(a), from 19(1)(b), from 19(2)(a), from 19(2)(b), and from 19(2)(c); also 19(2)(d) should be deleted in its entirety as the word "appropriate" in the chapeau of 19(2) takes account of the extremely rare, if any, situations where accessibility features would not have to be addressed.

National Human Rights Institutions stated that Article 19 should be general so that treaty bodies have flexibility in interpreting it in the context of each country and different rights. A definition of access or accessibility needs to be added to the Article, perhaps the following: "The term 'access' is not an act or state, but a freedom to enter, to approach, to communicate with, to pass to or from, or make use of physical, environmental and societal structures, goods and services, systems and processes regardless of type and degree of disability, gender or age.” As noted by MDRI, the Article as written is concerned with the design aspect of accessibility, which is important; but its scope should be enlarged to address other kinds of access barriers, arising from example economic constraints and cultural constructs.

The Chair summarized the discussion, noting strong support for the WG text in principle, with a general sense that the text should be strengthened rather than weakened. Many delegations supported moving Article 19 closer to the beginning of the Convention. Many advocated shortening the Article, but submitted proposals to add language to cover particular situations. The Committee will have to balance the desire to focus on general provisions against the tendency to list examples which might be read as exclusive. There are already generic treaty obligations in the form of CCPR, CRC, and CESCR, but where PWD have not received their rights. There is obviously overlap between Articles 19 and 20 as well as Article 13. As Liechtenstein stated, Articles 19 and 20 are two sides of the same coin. Some suggested deleting Article 20; this will be discussed after Article 20 is discussed. There was strong support for including accessibility and universal design in Article 2 as an underlying principle of this Convention. There was also support to recast Article 19 to refer to rights; currently it is the only part of the Convention that does not refer to rights, as MDRI pointed out. Many speakers asserted that accessibility concerns more than just buildings, and that this Article must also address access to information. WDF pointed out that this Convention needs to deal equitably with all disabilities and all types of accessibility. MDRI suggested that deleting the word "the focus of these measures" may assist in creating a more equitable approach. The issue of publicly owned versus privately owned buildings was discussed at length, and there was support for the concept that the focus should not be on who owns the buildings, but on who uses them. There were suggestions to add details, related for example to modes of transport, development of building codes and international standards, and changing "obstacles" to "barriers.” Delegates have cited the IDC text as containing useful material and the EU text. Most proposals concerned the further development of some of Article 19's components with no fundamental disagreements.


The Chair recalled some agreement at AHC4 to move research and development from 20(c) to Article 4, because it is an overlapping and common theme. Some delegates had proposed that if Article 20 is retained, it should be moved higher in the Convention. There were a number of suggestions to shorten this Article. During the discussion on Article 19, some delegates proposed moving elements of Article 20 into Article 19, particularly 20(a). Another option is to move all the key elements to other articles. Like Article 19, this Article contains a list of items, and there is tendency to expand that list to make sure everything is covered; this raises concerns about ending up with an unwieldy article, which should be avoided.

Chile stated that if Article 20 is retained, the Committee needs to determine which elements should be moved to Article 19 and which should be kept in Article 20. The Article 20 chapeau is similar to Article 19, but needs to ensure the fundamental right of PWD to freedom of movement. Some subparagraphs in Article 20 can be moved to Article 19. Subparagraph 20(f) refers to providing information to PWD and should also refer to accessible formats; this paragraph could be moved to Article 19.

New Zealand stated that personal mobility is critical to PWD both socially and economically. The barriers to mobility are diverse, and solutions range from individualized mobility devices, such as wheelchairs, prosthetics, and guide dogs, to orientation to their environment using a cane, to personal support, to signage including audible and sign language, to freedom of movement, to personal and public transportation, to making the built environment accessible. There are three main provisions needed to address these issues: an accessible environment (dealt with in Article 19), highly individualized support to allow independent living (dealt with in Article 15 and strengthened by the amendments), and education or rehabilitation skills (dealt with in Article 17 and in Article 21). If there are any significant issues which cannot be covered in these articles, New Zealand will be flexible in keeping Article 20 in a brief form. The content of 20(g) is addressed in Article 5 of the WG text.

Argentina supported Chile’s comments. It is flexible about retaining or deleting this Article. If retained, it should refer to the right of freedom of movement. Many of Article 20's paragraphs may be moved to Articles 19 or 15. It proposed changing the chapeau to read: "States Parties to this Convention shall take effective measures to ensure that PWD can freely exercise their right to liberty of movement without discrimination because of their disability.”

Yemen asked whether personal mobility is a means of access. If so, then Articles 19 and 20 should be combined. It asked whether this Article is meant to cover the right to freedom of personal mobility, or merely the means of mobility. If it covers the right to freedom of personal mobility, then the issue is not equipment, technology, techniques or information, but the ability to go anywhere without being discriminated against. In that case, new paragraphs should be added regarding the right of PWD to freedom of movement without discrimination, not just the means of mobility. In 20(c), the words "and the involvement of PWD in research relevant to such devices" should be added. In 20(f) the following words should be added: "the States Parties shall commit themselves to take all necessary measures to exempt technologies relevant to PWD from taxes and to reduce costs of such technologies.”

Kenya stated that Article 20 focuses on personal mobility and liberty of movement, two concepts which may or may not be compatible. It is flexible on whether parts of Article 20 can be merged into other articles including 19. Personal mobility is a term of art focusing on PWD and the technologies which enable them to move. Liberty of movement is a broader concept, set out in the CCPR. Kenya remains flexible regarding the placement of personal mobility in the Convention. In 20(a), after the words "available and affordable," the following language should be inserted: "or subsidized cost or where possible, free of charge.” If an Article on personal mobility is retained, then paragraph 20(e), which addresses freedom of movement, should be replaced with: "ensuring that personal mobility programmes are designed in such a way that persons with disabilities using the programmes have a decisive influence on the way in which the programmes are delivered;.” Kenya proposed a new Article 20(bis) to address liberty of movement at The issue of personal mobility may be merged into other articles, but this Convention needs to have an article that addresses liberty of movement.

Jordan stated that the content of Article 20 can be found or placed elsewhere in the Convention. With regard to the obligation to provide technology for free or at low cost, this is a matter of time. Incentives for the development of assistive technologies, such as tax exemptions, should be provided so that the subsidy and savings directly benefit persons in financial need and not the makers of the technology. The beneficiaries should not be determined based on disability only. Often it is the rich who benefit from such provisions.

The EU noted that Article 20 contains a number of different concepts, all of which have been covered elsewhere. References to mobility aids should be inserted into Article 19 instead of into Article 15 as proposed by New Zealand, because they are key to accessibility. The EU's proposal on mobility, 19(2)(b)(bis), reads: "promoting mobility for PWD by facilitating their access to suitable and appropriate mobility aids, devices and assistive technologies;.”

Serbia and Montenegro affirmed its flexibility regarding a possible merger of Articles 19 and 20, as long as no value is lost. If Article 20 remains, it prefers the EU chapeau with the amendment proposed by Korea using the language "promote liberty of movement" rather than the current language, "ensure liberty of movement.” The value of Article 20 lies in 20(a), 20(d), and 20(e). Paragraph 20(b) is covered in the article on universal design; and 20(c), 20(f) and 20(g) are also covered elsewhere.

Mexico supported the comments of Chile and Argentina, which place greater emphasis on the right to liberty of movement. While Mexico expressed appreciation for New Zealand's Article 20 proposal, referencing Article 12 of CCPR, these issues are broader than just participation in community life and should not be restricted to that context; liberty of movement is not restrictive. Liberty of movement should be addressed in a separate article and not in Article 15.

Qatar noted that the Chair did not address the discussion of progressive realization in his sum up of Article 19. Therefore it proposed that the word "effective" in the chapeau of Article 20 be replaced by "progressive." Articles 19 and 20 should be merged.

The Chair responded that he did not address progressive realization because it will need to be addressed in the Convention as a whole -- possibly placed in Article 4, parallel to CRC, or in the individual articles. This has yet to be decided. The problem with placing progressive realization in each article is that some articles are hybrid, dealing with economic, social and cultural rights as well as political and civil rights. Political and civil rights are not progressive; they are absolute rights for immediate implementation. Liberty of movement as defined in the CCPR is a civil and political right, but assisting people to move is a progressive obligation because it is economic, social and cultural. CRC dealt with this issue in one article. The other approach would mean addressing progressive realization in each subparagraph, since most articles are hybrids. This approach may cause some loss of flexibility in implementation. However, it is an issue in almost every article in this draft Convention, which will not be resolved during this session, and so will be kept entirely open.

Russian Federation was flexible on the provisions of Article 20 that could be transferred to other parts of the Convention. However, nothing should be deleted in haste. Personal mobility is significantly related to the issue of accessibility. The right to accessibility must include the right to personal mobility. They both entail adaptation because society must adapt by providing devices and installations and PWD must be given the opportunity to adapt to these devices. In addition, as stated by Kenya, this Article contains two very different concepts. Freedom of movement relates to Article 12 of the CCPR. It should be addressed in a separate article to deal with situations where, for example, a PWD is denied the opportunity to move based on his/her disability. This type of discrimination must be banned. Personal mobility is a different concept because it requires the creation of prerequisites that will enable the PWD to move freely, eg uninhibited access to public transportation. Paragraph 20(e) deals with both of these concepts and thus confuses the issues. Also confusing is the provision in 20(e) regarding affordable cost.

The Chair noted that Kenya had raised a similar point in proposing a new Article 20(bis), Freedom of Movement. Footnote 72 of Article 20 notes, "This draft Article is entitled 'Personal mobility' to distinguish it from the broader right to liberty of movement in Article 12(1) of the CCPR. The Ad Hoc Committee may wish to consider the placement of elements of this draft Article, in particular sub-paragraphs (a), (b) and (c).” There is a distinction between elements in Article 19 related to accessibility broadly, and personal mobility which is accessibility in a more personal sense. Then there is the issue of freedom of movement. PWD may already have the right under CCPR, but as Kenya noted in its 20(bis), there are some instances in which PWD may be denied this right, eg Uganda had noted that sometimes PWD do not have their birth registered. This affects liberty of movement because without a birth record no citizenship exists and a person cannot get a passport. This needs more consideration as both a practical and conceptual issue.

Jamaica supported Mexico’s proposal to move some elements from Article 20 to Article 19. As Kenya, Russia and others have pointed out, Article 20 contains two issues: the right to the means of mobility, and the right to freedom of movement. Jamaica expressed support for Kenya’s proposal. It noted that Article 10 contains implied references to freedom of movement. Instead of creating a new article and in the interest of simplicity the Convention could address freedom of movement in Article 10 and personal mobility in Article 19.

The Chair noted that these are issues which impact PWD and no one else; there are broader practical issues that arise here with respect to discrimination, and so there may well be a need for a separate article.

Oman pointed out the overlap between Article 20 with Article 15 as well as with 19(b), 19(c), 19(d), 19(e), and 19(g). The Convention should provide tax exemptions for aids and technological devices with the caveat that they are exclusively for the benefit of PWD, not for the benefit of companies which may charge excessive prices.

India emphasized the need to provide for measures for personal mobility. Merely facilitating access to aids and devices is not sufficient. There should be reference to making aids and devices available to PWD at affordable prices, within the resources available to State Parties. India expressed strong support for 20(a) in its entirety, and for research and development. Provisions should be moved to their relevant articles, like 19 and 10, and Article 20 could perhaps be dispensed with.

Costa Rica supports Mexico’s, Chile's and Argentina's proposals. Article 15, while based primarily on Article 12 of CCPR, is limited to community life; yet freedom of movement goes far beyond that. Article 20 could be deleted. However, give the current discussion Costa Rica now supports an article on liberty of movement, which should be placed before Article 15. The chapeau of this new article should be a framework which recognizes the right of liberty of movement and the choice of residence (referenced in Article 12 of CCPR) and obliges States Parties to take necessary measures to make this effective for PWD. The article could also include independent living and other issues. Article 20 as drafted has no purpose. Costa Rica cautioned against the Convention becoming a list of rules instead of a statement of principles. Taxes, subsidies, etc are tools which do not belong in the articles and limit the usefulness of the Convention. Technologies change so fast that this Committee cannot imagine the tools available in the future. The ideas in Article 20 could be dealt with in other articles.

Thailand restated its support for merging some elements of Articles 19 and 20. Liberty of movement could be placed in Article 15. However some key issues in Article 20 may not fit into other articles and could be stated briefly in a retained Article. However Thailand is willing to work with other delegations to find a solution. Thailand agrees with the EU proposal for inserting personal mobility into Article 19 but is concerned that this provision would not work well with the other elements of that Article.

Mali saw a need for both Articles 19 and 20, and outlined 2 examples of situations where prejudices about PWD still prevent them from moving about freely.

Uganda supported the inclusion of Article 20 and agreed with Kenya regarding the differences between personal mobility and liberty of movement. Mobility is vital to PWD and the lack of it causes misery, loss of confidence, a sense of being despised by society, and poverty among PWD. Mobility is necessary to earn a living, explore places, go shopping, visit friends and be independent. Without personal mobility, there is no chance for independence. Uganda therefore strongly supports an article on personal mobility as well as Kenya's proposed Article 20(bis) on liberty of movement.

Canada reiterated the overlap between Articles 20 and 19 but would remain flexible on retaining Article 20 so as not to lose significant points on mobility. It endorsed New Zealand's and EU's proposals. Canada will study Kenya's proposed Article 20(bis) though liberty of movement is covered generally in Article 7. Paragraph 20(d) should be placed in Article 15 or in a new article concerning habilitation. Paragraph 20(g) is already covered in Article 5.

Yemen explained that mobility involves the means by which an individual gets to a destination, and is covered in Article 19. Article 20 addresses the means for applying what has been covered in Article 19. Liberty of movement is distinct from Article 20 and must be addressed. Yemen would not object to moving personal mobility issues to other articles.

The Chair responded that there is a general concern about losing elements of Article 20, if they do not fit anywhere else.

Statements from NGOs and NHRIs

Korea Solidarity for International Disabilities Convention explained that while the rights of accessibility and personal mobility are different, they are closely related. The right to mobility is a central right for the Convention and PWD. Articles 19 and 20 should be considered independently and strengthened. For PWD it is necessary to establish "special rights"; accordingly this article should be renamed "Right to personal mobility.”

The Chair noted that there is agreement about the significant overlap between Articles 19 and 20, and between Article 20 and other articles. There is support for moving elements from Article 20 to Article 19 or to other articles. Some delegations suggested deleting Article 20, but others oppose deleting it because they do not want to lose important elements. There was much discussion about whether the right to liberty of movement should be in a separate article, as proposed by Kenya, or covered in Article 7. However it is clear delegations attach importance to this concept and agree it should not be lost. The Landmine Survivors Network has also proposed language on preserving this right in a separate article. The EU has proposed new language for Article 19 that could replace a number of elements in Article 20 as has New Zealand. The Chair asked delegations to consider how the concepts of accessibility, dealt with in a generic sense, personal mobility, addressed in a more personal sense, and liberty of movement, based on the CCPR, are different.


The Chair noted previous discussions on structure have produced broad support for splitting this Article into two: Article 21 on Health, and Article 21(bis) on Rehabilitation. Several delegations favored focusing on medical issues alone here, and addressing other forms of rehabilitation in other articles. The report of AHC4 described general agreement that elements in 21(f) and 21(m) should be consolidated generically in Article 4 (see paras 9 and 10 of Annex IV). There had also been general discussion in AHC4 on including a separate provision on training in Article 5 or elsewhere in the text, in which case the relevant provisions from Article 21 would be paras (g) and (h) (see para 17 of Annex).

Russian Federation supported dividing the article into two. Rehabilitation includes not just medical procedures and surgery, but also training, adaptation, employment, and social rehabilitation such as culture and sports. The chapeau needs further clarification. The language "highest attainable standard in health" is ambiguous; either there are standards or no standards. The chapeau should begin with these words: "States recognize that all PWD have right to qualified medical assistance in accordance with the national standard without discrimination.” If this Article remains undivided then its obligations on rehabilitation, which are inadequate, need to be enhanced to provide free rehabilitation care for PWD and technical assistance. Paragraph 21(j) should be amended to specify adults; children cannot give informed consent on medical care issues and this issue could be dealt with in the Article on children.

The Chair announced the circulation of a new proposal by the facilitator for Article 12. The facilitator, from the Czech Republic, asked whether delegations would accept this text as a basis for negotiations at AHC7. The EU noted the difficulty of negotiating multiple articles at the same time, and requested clarification about facilitators' assignments regarding articles which are not being discussed during this session. The Chair explained that there are two issues. Where possible and necessary, facilitators will convene meetings on articles being discussed at this session and report back. There are limits on the number of meetings that can be held. There should not be any organized meetings on articles which are not being discussed at this session. He has asked facilitators dealing with earlier articles to maintain contacts with interested delegations, but not to hold organised meetings. Facilitators dealing with earlier articles are however encouraged to maintain informal interactions with interested delegations and to continue thinking about resolving issues, rather than to leave them "dead in the water".

Serbia and Montenegro supported proposals from the EU, Mexico, and Russian Federation from AHC3 to separate the medical and rehabilitation parts of the article. It supports: [1] Costa Rica's proposal adding references to domiciliary attention and Community Based Rehabilitation in para (c); [2] the Russian Federation's proposal adding 21(c)(bis) to “Provide persons with disabilities with medical assistance including the provision of medicines on a free basis in accordance with the minimum social standards”; and [3] the EU’s proposed language for para (j). Serbia-Montenegro believes paras (g) and (h) on training are crucial, but is flexible as to their placement. Para (f) dealing with research would probably be better placed elsewhere.

The Chair adjourned the meeting.


The Sixth Ad Hoc Committee Daily Summaries is a public service by RI*, a global network promoting the Rights, Inclusion and Rehabilitation of people with disabilities. RI extends its sincere gratitude to the Governments of Norway, Ireland, Canada and New Zealand for their generous support towards this project.

The Daily Summaries are translated into French by Handicap-International, into Spanish by the Inter American Institute on Disability and into Arabic by Landmine Survivors Network ( Thanks to funding from the above mentioned governments RI will facilitate translation to Spanish and Chinese.

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Reporters for the 6 th Session are Roisin Dermody, Marianne Schulze, Tina Singleton, Robin Stephens; Editors are Laura Hershey and Zahabia Adamaly. Please forward any corrections or comments to

Anyone wishing to disseminate the Summaries and/or translate them into additional languages is encouraged to do so, with the request that you please retain the above crediting language - thank you.

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United Nations, 2005
Department of Economic and Social Affairs
Division for Social Policy and Development