Progress Made in Talks on UN Disability Convention

The pace of progress in current negotiations for
an international convention to protect the rights of
persons with disabilities needs to pick up if an
agreement is to be reached by the end of the week,
the chair of the negotiations warned today.

Progress has been made on several key issues,
said Ambassador Don MacKay of New Zealand, who is
chairing the talks. He added, however, that
delegations have submitted roughly 150 new proposals
on language for the convention, and the negotiations
are under extreme time pressures in order to
conclude by Friday.

“We are within striking distance of having a
convention that will be a huge advance in securing
the rights of persons with disabilities around the
world,” Mr. MacKay said. Nonetheless, he said that
the process could begin to unravel if the
negotiations become too prolonged.

Progress had been made, he said, in several key
areas, such as on an international mechanism to
monitor the convention, on a definition of
disabilities and the issue of legal capacity, where
countries have indicated a shift toward a policy of
supporting people in their decision-making abilities
rather than imposing a guardianship decision-maker
for those who have intellectual disabilities.

Among the remaining issues are those that have “bedeviled
other negotiations as well,” such as concerns over
sexual and reproductive rights, said Thomas
Schindlmayr of the Department of Economic and Social
Affairs at a briefing today.

Asked whether an agreement could be reached by
Friday, Mr. Schindlmayr said it was too soon to
predict an outcome but that many participants
remained optimistic.

“There is an immense amount of good will in the
room,” he said. “There is no dispute that this
convention is necessary. There is no dispute that
people want this convention.”

Source: United Nations

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