Press Releases

    18 February 2005

    Social Development Commission Hears Introduction of Drafts on Disability, African Social Objectives

    NEW YORK, 17 February (UN Headquarters) -- The Commission for Social Development held a brief meeting this afternoon to hear the introduction of several draft texts which it expects to approve tomorrow at the close of its annual substantive session.

    Presenting a draft resolution entitled “Comprehensive and integral convention to protect and promote the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities” (document E/CN.5/2005/L.3), Luxembourg’s representative, on behalf of the European Union, said the draft had two main objectives -– to underline the crucial importance of continued implementation of the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities by governments, the United Nations system, treaty bodies and civil society. The Standard Rules were the principal tool “in our hands” to encourage the promotion of equalization of opportunities by and for persons with disabilities. The Union also commended the fruitful negotiations under way on an international convention.

    She said that the text’s second purpose was the renewal of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Disabilities. The Union underlined the importance of the Special Rapporteur’s work, whose mandate was to monitor implementation of the Standard Rules. The Union was carrying out discussions on the text and announced that Romania and Bulgaria had joined the list of co-sponsors. Hopefully, it would be accepted by consensus.

    Introducing a draft resolution entitled “Further promotion of equalization of opportunities by, for and with persons with disabilities and protection of their human rights” (document E/CN.5/2005/L.4), Mexico’s representative said that Guatemala, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic and South Africa had joined as co-sponsors. In setting up the special committee to draw up the international convention, the General Assembly had asked that it take into account the recommendations of the Commission on Social Development. Given its expertise in monitoring matters related to persons with disabilities, its recommendations were extremely important. The Commission could not disassociate itself in what might be the most important step by the United Nations for the rights of persons with disabilities. The text intended to reflect the steps made in the negotiations and to acknowledge the contributions of various persons and bodies. Only an inclusive process in which all players worked together would make it possible to prepare a convention of quality. Venezuela had joined as co-sponsor.

    South Africa’s representative, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, introduced a draft text entitled “Implementation of the Social Objectives of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD)”. Emanating from General Assembly resolution 57/7 of 4 November 2002, the current text focused on coordinating Africa’s development, HIV/AIDS, and partnership with civil society. It considered collaboration between NEPAD, the United Nations and the African Union. It also concentrated on harmonization of current activities within the United Nations system focusing on Africa. The text of the draft was not yet available, but the idea behind it was to forge the same resolution as the one approved at last year’s session.

    Following the introductions, Commission Vice-Chairperson, Gerda Vogl of Austria drew attention to an informal paper, which would be available in the ECOSOC chamber later today, containing a draft decision on the Commission’s methods of work, which was being submitted by the Chairman.

    At the beginning of the meeting, Johan Schölvinck, Director, Division for Social Policy and Development of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs reported on the implementation of Economic and Social Council resolution 2004/14 on the comprehensive and integral international convention to protect and promote the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities. The Division for Social Policy and Development acts as secretariat of the Ad Hoc Committee, which was established by General Assembly in 2001 to consider proposals for the international convention.

    Describing the Division’s work in support of the Ad Hoc Committee, he noted that, in order to provide information on the issues related to a draft convention the Division had, among other things, created a specific Web site systematizing all information related to the Ad Hoc Committee work since its creation. The Web site contained all official and non-official background documents, and was updated in real time during the Ad Hoc Committee sessions. It had also raised the visibility of the convention process through the United Nations Global Programme on Disability, including by designing technical cooperation activities.

    Regarding the United Nations Voluntary Fund on Disability Funding to support the participation of the representatives of non-governmental organizations in the Ad Hoc Committee’s work, established by General Assembly resolution 57/229 of December 2002, he said a sub-account of the Voluntary Fund had been created to receive contributions. As of December 2004, contributions amounting some $390,000 had been received from 10 countries. It had been possible, up to the Ad Hoc Committee’s fourth meeting, to sponsor all applicants who had applied for funding. Due to insufficient available funding, however, only half of the applicants for the fifth session had been funded.

    The Commission will meet again tomorrow, 18 February, at 10 a.m. to continue its work.

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