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Committee on the Rights of persons with disabilities concludes twentieth session

21 September 2018

Adopts General Comment N°7 on the participation of persons with disabilities in the implementation and monitoring of the Convention, and the Concluding Observations and Recommendations on Reports of Seven States

The Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities this afternoon concluded its twentieth session, which was held from 27 August to 21 September at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

During the session, the Committee reviewed the implementation of the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in South Africa, Algeria, Bulgaria, Poland, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Malta, and the Philippines. The Committee's concluding observations on the seven reports will be available shortly on the session’s webpage.

The Committee had adopted the List of Issues under the simplified reporting procedure in relation to Austria, Azerbaijan, Germany, Mongolia, and Sweden.  It had considered communications and inquiry procedures pursuant to articles 6 and 7 of the Optional Protocol and had found violations in two of them, one in relation to persons with albinism and another concerning the denial of legal support in the context of the judicial system.  One communication had been declared inadmissible and one was discontinued.

The Committee adopted its General Comment N°7 on the participation of persons with disabilities, including children with disabilities, through their representative organizations, in the implementation and monitoring of the Convention on 21 September.

The active participation of everyone in decisions that affected their lives and rights, the Committee said in the introductory part, was a core human rights principle and ensured good governance and social accountability.  Important gaps in the implementation of this principle remained, such as lack of the understanding of the concept of participation itself and the absence of best practices for proper implementation; laws that prevent persons with disabilities on the basis of certain types of impairment from being closely consulted and actively engaged in decision-making processes; or the denial of equal access to participation of women and girls with disabilities in public decision-making.  States parties should acknowledge the positive impact of the involvement and participation of persons with disabilities on decision-making processes, notably because of their lived experience and best knowledge of rights to be implemented, the Committee further stated.

The four chapters in the General Comment were devoted to: the normative content of Articles 4(3) and 3(3) of the Convention, which discussed, inter alia, the definition of “representative organizations” and the involvement of civil society; the obligations of States parties, including to respect, protect and fulfil the right of persons with disabilities to be closely consulted and actively involved in decision making, monitoring and implementation processes; the relationship of the two Articles with other provisions of the Convention, including the applicability of Article 4(3) to the entire Convention and the set of overarching principles in Article 3 which guided the interpretation and implementation of the entire Convention; and the implementation at the national level, which outlined some steps States should take to address the challenges in the implementation of the right to participation, including to repeal all laws that prevented any persons with disabilities from being closely consulted with and actively involved.

During the session, the Committee had heard from non-governmental organizations and national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights with regard to the implementation of the Convention in States parties whose reports were on the agenda.  It had marked the first International Day of Sign Language on September 13, and celebrated the tenth anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and the creation of the Committee.

A representative of the International Disability Alliance praised the Committee for its permanent openness to the participation of the organizations of the persons with disabilities in all its work, and welcomed the joint statement with the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women on the situation of women with disabilities.  In particular, the International Disability Alliance welcomed the adoption of the General Comment °7, which reflected its own core principle.

At the end of the meeting, the outgoing Chair of the Committee, Theresia Degener, thanked all the Committee Experts and civil society organizations for their significant contributions, and expressed hope that no persons with disabilities would be left behind.

All the documentation on the reports considered during the session can be found on the Committee’s webpage, where the concluding observations and recommendations would be shortly available.  The webcast of the Committee’s public meetings in English, Spanish and Russian with closed captioning and International Sign Language can be accessed here, and the summaries of meetings in English and French, here.

The date of the twenty-first session of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities will be communicated later.

For use of the information media; not an official record