23 August 2006
Disability Convention Committee Agrees on Eleven Articles
NEW YORK, 22 August (UN Headquarters) -- Delegations drafting the first Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities have agreed on 11 articles, covering issues ranging from personal mobility to liberty and security of the person, with delegates and disability advocates clapping vigorously after the adoption of each article.
Today, delegates adopted "ad referendum" (subject to reference) five articles covering general principles, access to justice, liberty of movement, personal mobility and freedom of expression. Yesterday, delegates had adopted the articles on living independently and being included in the community (article 19), respect for privacy (article 22), participation in cultural life, recreation, leisure and sport (article 30) and statistics and data collection (article 31). On Friday, they had adopted the articles on the right to life (article 10) and liberty, and security of the person (draft article 14).
Today, the General Assembly's Ad Hoc Committee negotiating the Convention's text completed the examination of the latest compilation of proposals by delegations for additions and changes to the text.
Venezuela announced it would withdraw all its proposals to advance the work -- an announcement followed by applause. Thailand withdrew its proposals on universal design and on access to information, thus, allowing the adoption ad referendum, amid applause, of article 21, on freedom of expression and opinion and access to information.
Uganda and the Holy See withdrew their proposal of referring to the "dignity and worth" of persons with disabilities throughout the Convention, leaving the expression only in the preamble. This allowed the adoption of article 3, on general principles.
Canada's withdrawal of its proposal permitted the adoption of article 18, on liberty of movement and nationality. Similarly, Bangladesh's withdrawal of its proposals led to the adoption of article 20, on personal mobility, and article 13, on access to justice.
"This is very exciting", said Committee Chairman Don MacKay of New Zealand. "We are making very good progress, and I want to thank our colleagues for this."
Participants also discussed several articles on which agreement was still being sought, including those on situations of risk; equal recognition as a person before the law; freedom from violence and abuse; respect for the home and the family; education; health and rehabilitation; work and employment; social security; participation in political and public life; and international cooperation. Informal negotiations on these items are continuing, including during lunchtime and in the evening.
"We are really moving up, and we need to keep this momentum", Mr. MacKay said. "We only have two and a half days left, we are up against the wire. Please, please consult extensively with your colleagues."
Ambassador Juan Manuel Gomez Robledo of Mexico, who is facilitating negotiations on international monitoring (draft article 34), told participants that his goal was to wrap up discussions on the article tomorrow. Mexico held an informal meeting on Sunday afternoon, Mr. Gomez Robledo said, at which regular progress was made on all issues.
At the meeting, delegates warmed up to a proposal by Liechtenstein for covering individual communications through an Optional Protocol. The Protocol would allow individuals and groups to submit communications and complaints on alleged violations of their rights to the expert body that would monitor implementation of the Convention. States that ratify the Protocol would allow such communications from their citizens. This procedure had already been adopted for the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and its Optional Protocol, Mr. Gomez Robledo said.
Meanwhile, Jordan's delegate Mu'taz Hyassat has been facilitating informal consultations on a definition of "disability".
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