Opening Statement by Mr James Heenan at the CRPD Monitoring Committee Meeting, 14th Session

Excerpts from …

Statement by Mr James Heenan at the CRPD Monitoring Committee Meeting, 14th Session

Mr. James Heenan is Chief, Groups in Focus Section, Human Rights Treaties Division of the OHCHR, United Nations

Geneva, 17 August 2015

All opening statements to the 14th Session of the UNCRPD committee meeting can be found here…

” This morning I would like to share some information relating to developments in four areas of relevance to the Committee’s work:

  • the recent meeting of chairpersons of treaty bodies;
  • the elaboration of the Sustainable Development Goals;
  • developments at the Human Rights Council; and
  • recent work of OHCHR on the rights of persons with disabilities.

“… I would like to now turn to the on-going intergovernmental process on the Sustainable Development Goals for the post 2015 period. The goals, targets and indicators that are the centrepiece of this initiative have the potential to provide a new and powerful means for addressing some of the chronic human rights situations we face today, such as poverty, discrimination and the lack of access to education to name but a few. This transformative potential of the SDGs, building on the lessons of the MDG process, has been long recognized by the human rights treaty bodies. CRPD, along with other committees, has regularly sounded the call for the new framework be anchored in the internationally agreed human rights norms and standards. This message was reiterated by State parties at the 8th Conference of States parties to the Convention, held in New York in June 2015, which focused on the mainstreaming of disability in the post-2015 development agenda.  In his closing remarks,  the President of the Conference noted that the common message among States Parties identified during the Conference was that mainstreaming of disability is an imperative for the new economic and social development agenda.

On Sunday 2 August, Member States endorsed by consensus the Post-2015 Outcome Document: “Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”.  The Outcome Document – which is available on the website of the President of the General Assembly – will now be submitted to the Heads of State for adoption at the UN Summit in September.  While not perfect, the text exhibits a number of very welcome human rights features. First and foremost, it is explicitly grounded in the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the international human rights treaties. Further, throughout the preambular language, the goals and the targets, the text offers a universal, integrated and indivisible vision of sustainable development, encompassing key dimensions of all human rights related to both freedom from want as well as freedom from fear. It also puts combatting inequalities, discrimination and exclusion at its heart, and includes a very expansive list of groups to be given special focus, including – prominently – persons with disabilities. I would also note that the text specifically addresses issues of accessibility, for example in respect of transport and green spaces. Linked to the identification of groups, another noteworthy feature of the text is the call for disaggregated data as part of the global indicator framework, responding to a key lesson learned from the MDG process. And finally the text outlines an accountability architecture at national, regional and global levels.  Although there remain shortcomings in the extent to which the SGD have embraced human rights, I think all of the elements I have just mentioned should be cause for celebration among the human right community.

…            Accountability for the SDGs is grounded in the indicators that will measure progress towards the targets and goals . These indicators are currently being deliberated, and a preliminary list of indicators will be published in November 2015, after the adoption of the SDGs. Indicators provide a crucial means of ensuring that human rights lie at the heart of the post 2015 architecture by ensuring that information collected exposes – as far as possible – the reality on the ground of people’s enjoyment of their human rights. For this reason it is important that human rights voices, including those of the CRPD, are heard in this process.”

…            “On 29 April 2015, just after the conclusion of the Committee’s last session, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention adopted the its text of the “Basic Principles and Guidelines on remedies and procedures on the right of anyone deprived of their liberty to bring proceedings before a court”. The new Guidelines contain a separate provision on specific measures for persons with disabilities. That provision, Principle 20, makes it clear that the involuntary committal or internment on the ground of the existence of an impairment or perceived impairment, particularly on the basis of psychosocial or intellectual disability or perceived psychosocial or intellectual disability, is prohibited. The Guidelines also provide that where persons with disabilities are deprived of their liberty through any process, they are, on an equal basis with others, entitled to guarantees in accordance with international human rights law, necessarily including the right to liberty and security of the person, reasonable accommodation, and humane treatment. The basic principles and guidelines will be presented to the Human Rights Council at its 30th session next month.”

Thank you



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