Training session « Human rights and disability… towards an International Convention to promote and protect the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities » Training material produced by Handicap International - Rights and Policies Unit, in collaboration with the Human Rights Institute of Lyon
Outline Introduction Part I : Disability and Human Rights – core notions Part II : The process of elaboration of an international convention on disability Part III : The International Convention on protection and promotion of the rights of persons with disabilities Part IV : Participation of civil society in the elaboration process of the convention Conclusion
INTRODUCTION The disability field is going through a transition period : • The perception of disability is changing, • The disabled are finally recognized as having the same rights as everyone, • The international community has realised the great difficulties faced by disabled people in the world, • The UN invests into this theme in order to improve the respect of the rights of the disabled people and to allow them to be taken into account in policies, • The States and civil society work together since 2002 on the elaboration of an international Convention on the rights of the persons with disabilities.
=> It represents a real and durable opportunity to allow progress to be made concerning the situation of disabled people. We have to allow for the greatest possible number of actors to mobilise in order to make this Convention a tool for change. => International and national actors, public or from civil society, in order to ensure a process of dialogue. It is to facilitate access to information regarding this process that Handicap International has produced this CD Rom.
Part I : Disability and Human Rights – core notions • What is « law » ? 2) Disability is a Human Rights issue 3) The general human rights texts apply to all 4) International texts concerning disabled people 5) In fact : the invisibility of persons with disability
1) What is « law » ? • Law = Rules established to prevent the law of the strongest from applying. • Characteristics of law : • punishes violations • + makes up for the loss sustained by the victim • Example : an apple has been stolen • the thief will be fined = sanction • + the apple will be given back to its owner = reparation
Law, is : • Domestic Law(2 types) : • Of Romano Germanic origin (such as French law) : Written laws and regulations, • Of Anglo-Saxon origin ( « common law » system) : The law stems from courts themselves (“case law”). • International Law : Treaties and international agreements (conventions, covenants, treaties…).
Legally BINDING While agreeing on the text, a State party accepts to : change its own laws, or create new ones so that they would be in conformity with the international text. Example: Convention on the Rights of Child, the future convention on the rights of the disabled Not legally binding Guidelines that States parties undertake to respect No specific obligations Example: Standard Rules International Law, two types of texts :
2) Disability is a Human Rights issue «Disability (is) a Human Rights issue. As long as people with disabilities are denied the opportunity to participate fully in society, no one can claim that the objectives of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights have been achieved». Bengt Lindqvist / UN ex-Special Rapporteur on disability
Disability is an unavoidable and universal part of human diversity. • A shift in perspective has taken place on how to consider the person with disabilities : • From object of charity and burden = approach of assistance, • To subject with rights = approach based on the respect of any human being.
What does this shift imply ? Four core values of human rights are especially relevant in the context of disability : • Dignity - respect of physical and moral integrity of the person... • Autonomy – capacity for self-directed action, decision and behaviour… • Equality – prohibition of discrimination… • Solidarity - collaboration, support… Hence human Rights apply to persons with disabilities.
Human Rights Human Rights were born when it was clearly admitted that every human being must be respected, as part of Humanity • Human Rights are reference norms: they define limits under which human life and dignity are violated (example : freedom, food, housing…) • Human Rights areprioritary norms: nobody can be deprived of them without being a victim of a serious injustice.
Civil Rights Protect people against abuses of power Examples : right to life, freedom of association, right to freedom … Political Rights Enable individuals to participate in public life, and to exercise democratic control over State power Examples : right to vote, freedom of expression... The main Human Rights categoriesCivil and political Rights
The main Human Rights categories Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Enable the individual to live a decent life and to fulfil his essential needs. • Economic Rights : right to work, right to fair wages… • Social Rights : right to health, right to education, right to healthy food at regular intervals, protection of the family... • Cultural Rights : right to cultural expression...
3)General Human Rights treaties apply to everyone • International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination (1966) • International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966) • International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966) • Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (1979) • Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (1984) • Convention on the Right of the Child (1989)
The role of the committees attached to international texts Attached to some texts, there are monitoring committees = composed of independent experts. Role : • receive periodical reports from States parties on the implementation of the convention in their country • receive alternative reports from NGOs to counterbalance the state reports, • receive individual and interstate complaints • produce recommendations, inquiries... But : committees do not work efficiently, and do not consider the disability issue as a priority. ⇒ there is a need for a specific protection of persons with disabilities
4) International texts concerning disabled people The UN set out great principles specific to the disability issue, but lacking legal effect. • Several resolutions and recommendations were adopted. The adoption in 1982 of the World Programme of Action reveals a new objective : theequalisation of opportunities. • 1993 : adoption of the « Standard rules on the equalisation of opportunities for persons with disabilities » • 2002 : supplement to the Standard Rules, that completes and gives precisions on the text.
Standard Rules on the equalisation of opportunities for persons with disabilities All human beings are equal in rights (they have the same rights) However, they are not equal in fact : they do not have the same access to rights not the same opportunities • Aim of Standard Rules : favour equalisation of opportunities to allow for equality in fact. => measures have to compensate the disadvantages that prevent disabled people from having an equality of opportunities compared to the other members of society.
Standard Rules on the equalisation of opportunities for persons with disabilities The introductory paragraph number 24 of the Standard Rules defines the concept of equalisation of opportunities : The term 'equalization of opportunities' means the process through which the various systems of society and the environment, such as services, activities, information and documentation, are made available to all, particularly to persons with disabilities.
Standard Rules on the equalisation of opportunities for persons with disabilities they require States to : • remove obstacles to equal participation of persons with disabilities • actively involve disabled peoples NGOs in an active collaboration. As long as the convention is not adopted, the Standard Rules is the text of reference concerning the rights of persons with disabilities.
Standard Rules on the equalisation of opportunities for persons with disabilities • Are not principles but practical measures : indicate what should be done for the persons with disabilities to access the rights intended to all. • 4 parts with a practical scope for an equal participation : • Preconditions (awareness-raising, health care…) • Target areas (accessibility, employment, education…) • Implementation measures (planification, legislation, policies…) • Monitoring mechanism.
5) In fact : the invisibility of persons with disabilities • They are not very visible (different living places…) ; • Their marginalisation is linked to the refusal to see them ; • Public exposition is difficult (they are looked at). • The invisibility of persons with disabilities results in the non-respect of their fundamental rights. Statement : International Law does not efficiently protect the rights of persons with disabilities.
A few key points : • The disability theme is considered only in non-legally binding texts. • Need for a specific and legally binding text, which would efficiently protect the rights of persons with disabilities (ie. the convention in progress). • The convention, when entering into force, will highly influence States parties’ national policies.
Part II : The process of elaborating a convention on disability • Why elaborate a convention on disability ? • First step 3) Ad hoc committee sessions
Why elaborate a convention on disability ? The perception of disability has evolved : Disabled people are no longer considered as objects, but as rights bearing subjects. Disability is no longer considered as a problem linked to the person, but it depends upon the environment of the disabled individual (social model of disability).
Why elaborate a convention on disability ? to allow disabled people to enjoy the same rights as others: - Define the opportunity equalisation measures to allow access by disabled people to everyone’s rights - Have a implementation framework and monitoring mechanisms aimed at ensuring that States parties fulfill their obligations.
2) First step • 1987 : 1st proposal of convention (Italy/Sweden), but there was no agreement between States on the necessity of a specific convention : it was considered that general treaties are sufficient. • 99/2000 : several experts meetings clearly recognised that a specific and legally binding text on disability is needed. • 2001 : Mexico suggested to work on a new convention, which was accepted by a United Nations General Assembly resolution.
General Assembly resolution 19/12/2001 • Recognises that the international efforts are not sufficient to promote full and effective participation for persons with disabilities • Establishes an ad hoc committee, in charge of considering proposals for a convention. • Suggests to elaborate an integral convention (which would be exhaustive), based on a holistic approach (global). • Invites all relevant stakeholders (NGOs, international treaty bodies, UN agencies...) to make contributions to the work entrusted to the Ad Hoc Committee
Ad hoc committee The ad hoc committee is composed of : • States representatives • Civil society (NGOs): its participation is exceptional • United Nations organs et agencies (High Commissioner for Human Rights, Commission on social development, World Health Organisation, International Labour Organisation …) • National Human Rights Institutions
Stakeholders positions • Developing countries want practical obligations for States parties, but which do not imply a cost too high. • Scandinavian countries fear that international norms would be lower than their national norms. • The cultural differences in the perception of society (individualistic or communitarian) lead to a different perception of rights. • Development organisations insist on development and eradication of poverty as a means to reach the aim of the convention. • Disabled People Organisations : « Nothing about us without us »
3) Ad hoc committee sessions • First and Second Sessions, 2002-2003 : Choosing the type of text and creation of a working group The Committee has discussed : • The necessity of drawing up a new convention, or would it be enough to add a text to an existing convention ? It was decided to draw up a new convention, specific to persons with disabilities
What should the convention deal with? Solely non-discrimination, the interaction between disability and Human Rights or a more global approach ? • the text will deal withrelated and complementary issues It will focus on : • Dimensions of Human Rights and Disability, on one hand, and • The core issues of social development, on the other hand (gender equality, eradication of poverty...)
During its 2nd session, the committee established a working group, composed of : • 27 States representatives • 12 Disabled People Organisations • 1 national institution of Human Rights • January 2004 : Working Group meeting The working group was in charge of drawing up a draft text which would be the basis of the negotiations ; the draft text is composed of 25 articles.
3rd et 4th sessions (May 2004; August 2004) : The committee discussed the draft text, and every stakeholder could suggest amendments (first reading). • 5th session (January 2005) : The committee has made a second reading of the first part of the convention. • 6th session (August 2005) : The committee has started the second reading of the second part of the convention.
October 2005 : publication of the « Chairman Text »After the sixth session, the committee’s chairman proposed a « Chairman text », which is a new version of the convention with rewritten articles. This text tries to set up a compromise between the different positions of the participants (states and civil society) after the last reading. The chairman hopes this text will serve as the basis for negotiations during the future sessions.
A few key points : • Exceptional participation of civil society. • The elaborating process is long and complex, in order to: • Get a text that would be really efficient, and that would take into account every dimension of disability, in a perspective of human rights and social development. • Take into account every stakeholder’s objectives and positions. • The article on monitoring is considered by all as crucial, and it’s efficiency will be important. • The recent publication of the « Chairman text » helps progress of the convention.
Part III : Comprehensive and integral international convention to promote and protect the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities • Presentation of the convention : articles and structure of the« Chairman’s text » • The central principles of the convention • Transversal subjects • Zoom on important notions • Implementation and monitoring
Presentation of the convention: articles and structure of the Chairman’s text PART 1 Art 1- Purpose Art 2- Definition Art 3- General principles Art 4- General Obligations Art 5- Equality and non-discrimination Art 6- Women with disabilities Art 7- Children with disabilities Art 8- Promotion of positive attitudes to persons with disabilities Art 9- Accessibility
Presentation of the convention: articles and structure PART 2 Art 10- Right to life Art 11- Situations of risk Art 12- Equal recognition as a person before the law Art 13- Access to justice Art 14- Liberty and security of the person Art 15- Freedom from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment Art 16- Freedom from violence and abuse Art 17- Protecting the integrity of the person Art 18- Liberty of movement Art 19- Living independently and being included in the community Art 20- Personal mobility
Presentation of the convention: articles and structure PART 2 (continued) Art 21- Freedom of expression and opinion and access to information Art 22- Respect for privacy Art 23- Respect for the home and the family Art 24- Education Art 25- Health Art 26- Habilitation and rehabilitation Art 27- Work and employment Art 28- Adequate standard of living and social protection Art 29- Participation in political and public life Art 30- Participation in cultural life, recreation, leisure and sport
PART 3 Art 31- Statistics and data collection Art 32- International cooperation Art 33- National implementation and monitoring Art 34- International monitoring PART 4 Signature Ratification Accession Entry into force Amendment Reservations Dispute settlement Depositary Authentic texts Presentation of the convention: articles and structure
2) The central principles of the convention • It does not create new rights Objective : The full enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by the disabled person. => The goal is to allow disabled people to enjoy the same rights as others.
It rests upon a visionof an inclusive society in which everyone has the same rights and opportunities. This vision is illustrated through 6 general principles : • Dignity, autonomy and freedom of choice • Non-discrimination and respect for differences • Integration • Equality of opportunities • Accessibility • Equality between men and women The vision of the society upheld by the convention makes room for individual choices, while recognising the importance of collective responsibilities.
The principles are upheld throughout the convention *Dignity Insure the physical and moral integrity of the person : • by affirming the inherent right to life for all (art 10), but no consensus on when this right begins. • by protecting the person against : • violence and abuses (art 16) • inhuman and degrading treatments (art 15) • forced intervention or institutionalisation (art 17)
*Autonomy and freedom of choice Insure that the disabled person has the possibility of being autonomous and has the freedom of choosing : • his/her place of residence (art 19), in order not to force the person to live in a specialised institution • the medical treatment of his/her impairment (art 25) • to have a family life and personal relations (art 23)
*Non-discrimination Discrimination in the draft text means : - any distinction, exclusion or restriction, - based on disability, - limiting, as a consequence, the access to rights • Encompasses double discrimination (sex, ethnic origin, age…) • Encompasses all forms of discrimination, be they direct and indirect discrimination.
*Full integration Disabled people are integrated in all aspects of existence, considered as equal citizens and participants. This principle : • expresses the desired result of the convention, • echoes the principle of respect of differences within the society and to the acceptation of disability as being part of human diversity.
* Equality of opportunities Enable persons with disabilities to access, in equality with other persons, services, information and activities… It is thanks to the Standard Rules that the notion of equalisation of opportunities has become central in the treatment of the disability theme.
*Accessibility = to fight against the barriers to participation of disabled people. • Physical environment Implements international standard norms for every building, either public or private (Universal design). Example : standards demanding that doors be wide enough to allow a wheelchair to go through Allow and facilitate the movements of disabled people. Example : access to public transportation thanks to low-floor buses.
*Accessibility 2. Accessibility to information and communication allow access to information and the enjoyment of the freedom of expression. Example : information available in Braille, websites specially adapted for the needs of disabled people…