17 January 2006

Ad Hoc Committee Negotiating First-Ever Convention on Rights of Disabled Persons Opens Three-Week Session

NEW YORK, 16 January (UN Headquarters) -- The United Nations Ad Hoc Committee on a Comprehensive and Integral Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities opened its seventh session this morning, as it prepared to commence a second full reading of the draft text.

During its three-week session, which is scheduled to conclude on 3 February, the Committee is expected to review the entire draft of the convention, based on the 34-article text proposed by the Committee's Chair (document A/AC.265/2006/1).  Among the issues to be discussed are equality and non-discrimination, raising awareness regarding disability, accessibility, right to life, equal recognition before the law, access to justice, liberty and security of the person, liberty of movement, personal mobility, living independently and being included in the community.

Opening the session, Ad Hoc Committee Chairman Don MacKay (New Zealand) said he was confident that the Committee would make good progress during its current session.  The large and enthusiastic turnout for the meeting had not been affected by the somewhat longer session.  Members were aware that there had been much discussion in the Assembly's Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) on a three-week session.  In its resolution on the Ad Hoc Committee, the Assembly had provided it with a longer session with the clear understanding and mandate that it complete a full reading of the working text. 

Given that the session would last 15 days and that the draft convention contained 34 articles, the Committee would have about two hours to discuss each article, he added.  As the concepts and substance of the text had been discussed in the past, members should avoid statements of principle or positions.  The Committee should be reducing the number of proposals and unresolved text, not increasing it.  His intention was to produce a rolling text rather than a single text at the end of the session.  He would issue a revised text on relevant articles that reflected the points reached in the discussion.

Before moving to consideration of the draft text, the Committee elected Petra Dolakova (Czech Republic) as its Vice-Chair from the Eastern European Group.  It also adopted its agenda and programme of work contained in documents A/AC.265/2006/L.1 and A/AC.265/2006/L.2, respectively.

For further information on the Committee's work, see Press Release SOC/4687 issued on 12 January.

* *** *