I have the honour to make this statement on behalf of Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
Since the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities came into force three and a half years ago, support for this landmark international treaty has grown at a remarkable pace. The speed with which the Convention has attracted its now 105 ratifications underlines its profound importance and value across the globe. Canada, Australia and New Zealand firmly believe that universalisation and implementation of this important instrument will help ensure the full and equal enjoyment of human rights by all persons with disabilities and we call on all those remaining states which have not yet ratified the Convention to do so as a matter of priority, and for all states to fully implement the Convention.
This year has been an active one for the promotion and protection of the rights of persons with disabilities. CANZ were pleased to participate in the Human Rights Council’s annual panel debate on the rights of persons with disabilities, this year on international cooperation. We support strongly the commitments made by the Human Rights Council on the same theme, and look forward to the forthcoming work on the theme of participation in public and political life by persons with disabilities. Also this year, the World Bank and WHO jointly released the World Report on Disability, the first major evidence-based study on disability since the adoption of the Convention. Among other things, the report found that the number of persons with disabilities globally could be as high as 1 billion people. This year’s 4th Conference of States Parties to the Convention, was on the theme “Enabling Development, Realizing the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities through Participation, Employment, and International Cooperation”. This COP, together with the other activities this year, have drawn welcome attention to a core principle of the Convention; that facilitating the full participation in society of persons with disabilities is of benefit not just to those with disabilities, but to all society.
We welcome also the continued work to mainstream the rights of persons with disabilities within discussions on achieving the Millennium Development Goals; and welcome the Secretary-General’s report on ‘Realization of the Millennium Development Goals and other internationally agreed development goals for persons with disabilities’. This report will inform discussion about recognising the rights of persons with disabilities in future development goals, post 2015.
Canada, Australia and New Zealand welcome the work of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, under the chairmanship of Professor Ronald McCallum. In 2011, Australia and New Zealand were pleased to deposit their initial periodic reports on the implementation of the Convention and we look forward to presenting those before the Committee. Canada is preparing to deposit its initial report in April 2012 and continues to work towards improving the circumstances of persons with disabilities over time.
In the past year, the Committee has considered its first periodic reports, establishing a strong foundation for its future work.
Mr President, there is one area where this Convention has been a victim of its own success: the very large number of States that have joined the treaty in such a short time means that this new Committee is already facing a serious backlog in its work considering periodic reporting. The Committee meets for only two weeks per year – not at all sufficient when there are 105 States parties. We are concerned that the short time available for the Committee to complete its work will restrict its efficiency. This Convention makes it clear that the rights of persons with disabilities must no longer take second place but instead must be on an equal basis with others. We will thus add our support to the request before the Third Committee this year to give the committee additional annual meeting time, commensurate with its workload, and to ensure the rights of all persons with disabilities are treated equally within the UN system. In light of the difficult financial situation confronting member states and the UN, CANZ supports all efforts to ensure that UN business is conducted efficiently, bearing in mind resource constraints and fiscal discipline.
CANZ likewise supports the request for the Chair of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to appear in an interactive dialogue in future sessions, thus putting the Committee on par with other treaty bodies.
CANZ remains committed to the issues that have been outlined and look forward to continuing their role in the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.