15 August 2006

Opening Eighth Session, Committee Negotiating Convention on Rights of Disabled Persons Expected to Adopt Completed Text in Two Weeks

Items to Be Discussed Include International Monitoring, Definition of "Disability"

NEW YORK, 14 August (UN Headquarters) -- After four years of negotiation on a Comprehensive and Integral Convention to Promote and Protect the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities, the General Assembly's Ad Hoc Committee charged with the task began its eighth session this morning with strong hopes of adopting a final draft text in two weeks.  Some 800 representatives of civil society had registered to be present during the session -- scheduled for 14 to 25 August -- alongside Government delegations.

In his opening statement to the Committee, the Chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee Don McKay of New Zealand, said delegates should take "huge satisfaction" with their accomplishments so far, where most provisions of the draft convention had been either finalized or were close to it.  He foresaw several items requiring discussion during the current session, among them the issue of international monitoring and the definition of "disability", and hoped that a completed text would be adopted by the Committee in time for submission to the upcoming sixty-first session of the General Assembly.

[The Convention will elaborate the rights of persons with disabilities, in areas 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.]

The representative of Mexico also delivered a statement, saying his country had been underlining the necessity of a convention to promote and protect the rights of persons with disabilities since the 2001 World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance in Durban, South Africa.  In that same year, President Vicente Fox had formally submitted a proposal to the General Assembly to establish such a convention, and since then, Mexico had actively taken part in negotiations, including coordinating sectoral meetings on monitoring.  The representatives of Cuba and Sudan also spoke.

Before moving to consideration of the draft text (document A/AC.265/2006/2, annex II), the Committee adopted its agenda and programme of work, contained in documents A/AC.265/2006/L.4 and A/AC.265/2006/L.5, respectively.

For further information on the session, see Press Release SOC/4707 issued on 10 August.

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