UN human rights chief backs proposed disability treaty

[JURIST] UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour Wednesday urged [press release] the adoption of an increasingly-problematic draft of the International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities [official website; JURIST report], a proposed treaty to protect the rights of the disabled. Arbour said the agreement would "address the stereotypes and prejudices that deny persons with disabilities enjoyment of their human rights."

By Tuesday, the UN General Assembly Committee drafting the treaty had agreed to many of the less contentious provisions, roughly one-third of the articles, but it is now discussing more controversial issues [press release]. Issues that still must be resolved include the definition of a disability [DOC text] and the inclusion of the phrase "sexual and reproductive health and services," which some interpret to include abortion. The US is opposed to the convention in general [JURIST report], arguing that such an agreement could have a confusing or negative impact on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) [DOJ materials; text]. The committee is scheduled to conclude negotiations on Friday. Ambassador Don MacKay [official profile] of New Zealand, the Chair of the Committee, called on the drafting delegates to be flexible and make concessions that would allow negotiations to proceed, saying "if we don't grasp it now it will have an effect on persons with disabilities around the world." UPI has more. The UN News Centre has additional coverage.

 

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