11 August 2006
Committee on Disability Convention Continues Talks on Treaty, 14-25 August
NEW YORK, 10 August (UN Headquarters) -- Delegates and representatives of the global disability movement will seek to bring to a conclusion the draft convention on the rights of persons with disabilities, when they meet at the United Nations from 14 to 25 August.
The eighth session of the Ad Hoc Committee on a Comprehensive and Integral International Convention on Protection and Promotion of the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities will focus on the still unresolved issues, and revisit the language of the 33-article working text (document A/AC.265/2006/2).
"Our objective is to adopt the draft convention at the end of this session", said the Chair of the Ad Hoc Committee, New Zealand's Ambassador Don McKay. "Intensive informal consultations will be required on a variety of issues throughout the session, in addition to the discussions in the plenary. We will need to be flexible in our approach", he said.
Without creating new rights for the most part, the convention seeks to elaborate, in detail, the rights of persons with disabilities and, set out a code of implementation. It covers rights such as equality, non-discrimination and equal recognition before the law; liberty and security of the person; accessibility, personal mobility and independent living; right to health, work and education; and participation in political and cultural life.
Four main issues in the working text are still unresolved: international monitoring, international cooperation, legal capacity and the definition of "disability".
Current proposals on international monitoring involve setting up a committee of independent experts, which would monitor implementation of the convention by States that ratify it. That is the procedure currently followed under seven core human rights treaties, such as the conventions on women's rights and children's' rights. States parties would have to regularly submit a report to the monitoring committee and discuss it with the experts.
The draft article on international cooperation would require States parties to provide assistance to developing countries to help them to implement the Convention. That would include technical and economic assistance, access to assistive technologies and support to capacity-building support.
Countries have not agreed on a definition of "legal capacity", and on whether to refer to "legal capacity" or to the "capacity to act". For their part, disability-related non-governmental organizations are concerned that addressing legal capacity -- which would involve external assistance to exercise that capacity -- would open the door to guardianship and substitute decision-making, thus, limiting the rights of persons with disabilities.
"There will be immense pressure on delegates to resolve issues informally between themselves," said Mr. MacKay. "We are now at the end of the negotiating phase, not still in the debating phase, and it will be necessary to sow up compromises in the corridors and move on, rather than debating them in plenary", he added.
Meanwhile, informal work had been ongoing on international monitoring and final clauses, led respectively by Mexico and Liechtenstein.
On 1 August, General Assembly President Jan Eliasson threw his support behind the completion of the treaty, writing to all delegations "to give priority to the upcoming negotiations, and to approach them with maximum flexibility and pragmatism, in order that we can reach agreement on a convention that will be in the common interest of us all".
Disability-related non-governmental organizations and national human rights institutions from around the world will continue to be major players in the negotiations. Some 500 representatives of disability-related organizations are expected to attend the session.
Governments, disability-related non-governmental organizations and others are organizing daily lunchtime side events on topics such as political empowerment of persons with disabilities, universal design and education ( www.un.org/esa/socdev/enable/rights/ahc8sideevents.htm ).
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