Committee on the Rights of persons with disabilities opens eighteenth session in Geneva

Europe, Misc., August 16 2017

GENEVA: The Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities opened its eighteenth session, during which it will review measures taken by Panama, Morocco, Montenegro, Latvia, Luxembourg and the United Kingdom to implement the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  The Committee listened to an address by Orest Nowosad, Chief, Groups in Focus Section of the Human Rights Council and Treaties Mechanism Division, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, adopted its agenda and programme of work for the session, and heard statements by United Nations agencies and other stakeholders.

In his opening statement, Mr. Nowosad was pleased to inform the Committee that its former Chairperson, Maria Soledad Cisternas Reyes, had been appointed as the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General on Disability and Accessibility, and that in July 2017, the Human Rights Council had extended the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Catalina Devandas, for three years.  He briefed the Committee on the tenth session of the Conference of States parties to the Convention which had taken place in June in New York, during which the importance of restoring gender parity and equitable geographical distribution in the Committee had been raised.  The eighteenth session of the Committee would be a busy one – the Committee would, inter alia, review six States parties, continue the elaboration of the draft General Comment N°5 on article 19 on living independently and being included in the community, and hold a Day of General Discussion on the right of persons with disabilities to equality and non-discrimination.

In her opening remarks, Theresia Degener, Committee Chairperson, said that as a result of strong advocacy during the tenth Conference of States parties, 25 Member States had issued a joint statement in which they had committed to utilize the Washington Group Short Set of Questions as the tool to disaggregate data by disability, particularly in household surveys and national censuses.  More than 70 submissions had been received on General Comment N°5 on the right to live independently and be included in the community, and it was hoped that the revised version would be adopted on Tuesday, 29 August.  A Day of General Discussion on article 5 of the Convention on equality and non-discrimination, to be held on Friday, 25 August, would help the Committee produce the first draft of the General Comment.  Ms. Degener raised concern about the draft Oviedo Protocol to the Council of Europe Convention on Medicine and Bioethics, which contradicted General Comment N°1 and the guidelines on article 14 concerning substituted decision-making and forced institutionalization.

The Committee adopted its agenda and programme of work.

A representative of the Secretariat informed that four new initial reports had been received since the seventeenth session of the Committee – Bangladesh, Israel, Malawi and Kazakhstan, thus bringing the total number of reports received to 107.  Of those, 55 reports had been considered, and the review of 52 initial reports was pending.

Representatives of the following United Nations bodies and other organizations made statements: United Nations Refugee Agency, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, United Nations Children’s Fund, World Health Organization, World Intellectual Property Organization, Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions, Global Initiative for Inclusive Information and Communication Technology, International Disability Alliance, World Blind Union, and the International Committee of the Red Cross.

The Committee’s public meetings, with closed captioning and International Sign Language, are webcast at http://webtv.un.org/

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