COMMITTEE NEGOTIATING TREATY ON RIGHTS OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES
OPENS FIFTH SESSION AT UN HEADQUARTERS
The General Assembly Committee drafting the first-ever convention on the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities resumed negotiations today, focusing on the issue of equality and non-discrimination.
The Chairman of the drafting Committee, Ambassador Luis Gallegos Chiriboga of Ecuador, called on the Ad Hoc Committee on a Comprehensive and Integral International Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities to “make the greatest efforts in the shortest possible time” to finalize the treaty. The Committee is holding its fifth session from 24 January to 4 February at United Nations Headquarters (Conference Room 4).
Mr. Gallegos reminded participants that “what we do agree upon in this Committee will have direct consequences for those who have to face their life and personal development with a disability”, adding that societies will not be inclusive unless the limitations of all kinds imposed on more than 600 million people with disabilities are overcome. “We must attend to the needs of a segment of the world population which, in spite of disability, gives us a lesson for living and for overcoming adversities”, Mr. Gallegos said.
The Committee adopted the proposed agenda (document A/AC.265/2005/L.1) and organization of work (document A/AC.265/2005/CRP.1). Mr. Gallegos then invited Ambassador Don MacKay of New Zealand to preside over informal consultations, in accordance with the procedure agreed upon at the previous session of the Committee (23 August-3 September 2004). At that session, it was agreed to discuss in informal consultations the proposals resulting from the review of the draft articles, in order to narrow down differences for further negotiations.
Mr. MacKay reminded participants that the Committee at its previous session had discussed in informal consultations draft articles 4 to 7, which dealt with general obligations, promotion of positive attitudes to persons with disabilities, statistics and data collection, and equality and non-discrimination. Mr. MacKay proposed that participants resume where they left off, namely, paragraph 5 of article 7, which deals with measures aimed at accelerating equality, and then continue article by article up to article 15. Mr. Gallegos would then take up a second reading of the remaining articles.
“We will try to resolve as many issues as possible in informal consultations, but the remaining issues will be dealt with by the facilitators’ group”, Mr. MacKay said, reminding participants of the facilitators appointed by the Chair on the first 15 articles. He invited delegations and representatives of disability organizations to approach the facilitators, adding that the Committee was greatly benefiting from the experience of disability organizations, as well as disabled members of delegations.
The objective was to complete the first informal negotiations of articles 7 through 15 by the end of the week, Mr. MacKay said, a reasonable goal if the Committee focused on the essence and held structured discussions. The understanding was that “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed”, and at the end of the negotiations it would be possible to go through the articles again. Nothing was locked until the end, giving participants flexibility and the possibility to come back to certain points.
Articles 8 through 15 dealt with right to life; equal recognition as a person before the law; liberty and security; freedom from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment; freedom from violence and abuse; freedom of expression and opinion; respect for privacy, the home and the family; and living independently and being included in the community. After examining these articles, the Committee is scheduled to review articles 16 through 25 and proposed additional articles.
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