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Third interactive dialogue of the Human Rights Council on international cooperation in support of national efforts for the realization of the purpose and objectives of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Interactive Panel Dialogue on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on 4 March 2011

The Human Rights Council held its third interactive debate on the rights of persons with disabilities on 4 March 2011. States representatives, inter-governmental organizations (IGOs), national human rights institutions (NHRIs) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), participated in the debate (see concept note). International sign language and real time captioning were provided and hearing loops were made available. The webcast of the session can be followed at:

The theme of the interactive panel was the role played by international cooperation in support of national efforts for the realization of the purpose and objectives of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), for which OHCHR prepared a thematic study in accordance with HRC-Resolution 13/11 of 14 April 2010 (see resolution). The Convention was adopted by the General Assembly in December 2006 and came into force in May 2008. As of the date of the debate, 99 States were parties to the Convention and 61 to its Optional Protocol, while 147 and 90 are signatories to the two instruments respectively. The Council adopted a resolution in response to the interactive dialogue (see resolution 16/15).

Interventions of Panellists

The High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms. Navanethem Pillay, opened the interactive discussion. She also stressed that the CRPD recognizes international cooperation as being complementary to national action. She highlighted three persisting challenges: first, the need to reinforce through international cooperation the shift from a charity or medical approach to disabilities to a social model; second, the need to strengthen mainstreaming disability rights in development efforts; and third, the need to integrate the rights of persons with disabilities into all phases of humanitarian action. The High Commissioner emphasized the importance of participation of persons with disabilities and their representative organizations in consultation and decision-making processes as a means of strengthening international cooperation in the field.

Mr. Shuaib Chalklen, Special Rapporteur on Disabilityof the Commission on Social Development,emphasized the importance of ensuring the full implementation of article 32 of the CRPD by setting a stronger focus on scientific and technical knowledge and on the dissemination of best practices. Mr. Chalklen noted that scientific and technical knowledge must be shared through cooperative agreements between State parties and through an effective mainstreaming of disability into development cooperation. He further highlighted the need to gather data on persons with disabilities, noting that no development planning can take place without relevant statistics.

Mr. Monthien Buntan, Senator of Thailand, reflected on modalities to achieve disability-inclusive international cooperation. He noted that also disaster-preparedness needs to be disability-inclusive and that the latter can be promoted through international partnerships. He stressed the importance of ensuring accessibility to the built environment, to public transportation, information and communication systems and services in order to avoid the further exclusion of persons with disabilities. Senator Buntan referred to the Phuket Declaration on Tsunami Preparedness for Persons with Disabilities, which was adopted in 2007 and to the Second International Conference on Disaster Preparedness for Persons with Disabilities, which was held in Phuket, Thailand, in 2009. Mr Buntan also referred to the potential of South-South cooperation and to the debate around �socially inclusive business development�.

Ms. Theresia Degener, member of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, focused on aligning international cooperation with the CRPD. She referred to three parallel shifts which recently have taken place in international cooperation and in international disability policy: First, international cooperation is now seen as part of a human rights instead of a welfare policy, which � as she noted - is a key condition for international cooperation to be effective and sustainable. The second major shift which has taken place in the area of international cooperation and international disability policy relates to gender: Without addressing female poverty and mainstreaming gender into development policy, the MDGs will not be accomplished, Ms Degener highlighted. She noted that the third shift lies in the participation of persons with disabilities: International cooperation will only be successful if it is geared towards empowerment of the people concerned, Ms Degener said. Finally, Ms Degener highlighted the importance of partnerships and of developing guidelines for mainstreaming disability into development.

Ms. Mar�a Ver�nica Reina, Executive Director of the Global Partnership for Disability and Development, intervened on the challenge of mainstreaming disability into international cooperation. She noted that many development programmes and projects are disability-specific but that disability is rarely fully mainstreamed into development cooperation. According to Ms Reina, this is related to the lack of data which could lead States and organizations to more inclusive development programming. Ms Reina also stressed the importance of mutual accountability of all stakeholders involved in international cooperation and the need for persons with disabilities and their representative organizations to increase their capacity to advance mainstreaming of disability into development cooperation.

Ms. Nathalie Herlemont, Head of the Strategic Policy Service at Handicap International, referred to the challenges related to mainstreaming disability into humanitarian responses: She noted that within the framework of the cluster approach of the Inter-agency Standing Committee applied in humanitarian emergencies, disability is usually integrated in the Health or in the Protection Cluster. This has led to significant visibility of disability within the specific cluster but within the cluster system, the needs of persons with disabilities are often not specifically or not adequately addressed in humanitarian emergencies. Ms Herlemont highlighted the importance of maintaining the link of persons with disabilities and care takers such as family members in emergency situations in order to ensure that their rights are met. She also clarified that persons with disabilities and their representative organizations must participate actively in humanitarian responses in order for international cooperation in emergency contexts to be inclusive of and accessible to persons with disabilities.

The discussion continued with statements from the floor, delivered in the first slot by Mexico, New Zealand, Iraq (on behalf of the Arab Group), the European Union, Morocco, Nigaria (on behalf of the African Group), Austria, Pakistan (on behalf of the OIC), Germany, Cuba, Paraguay (on behalf of the MERCOSUR), Indonesia, Peru, Honduras, Algeria, Ukraine, UNICEF, the International Coordinating Committee of National Human Rights Institutions, Inclusion International and Conectas Direitos Humanos. In the second slot, statements were delivered by Malaysia, Belgium, Thailand, Brazil, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Qatar, Norway, Australia, Argentina, Kuwait, Spain and the World Blind Union.