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Kayess, Rosemary; Fogarty, Ben --- "The Rights and Dignity of Persons With Disabilities: A United Nations Convention" [2007] AltLawJl 7; (2007) 32(1) Alternative Law Journal 22

    A United Nations Convention


    In August 2006 the Eighth Session of the Ad Hoc Committee (‘the Committee’) on a Comprehensive and Integral Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities (‘the Convention’)[1] met at the United Nations in New York, with a view to finalising the Convention’s text. That objective was met in the concluding hours of the meeting on 25 August 2006.

    It signals the culmination of over five years of dedicated negotiations and work between Member States and relevant international, regional and national non-government organisations (NGOs).

    The Convention seeks to redress the physical and social barriers, discrimination and disadvantage confronting people with disability throughout the world[2] and to promote their full participation and recognition in civil, political, economic, social and cultural life. The purpose of this article is to raise the profile of this important human rights convention in Australia and to rally the Australian Government to sign, ratify, accede and enter its terms into force via domestic legislation. The article looks at several of the more contentious issues that needed to be resolved before consensus could be achieved and the terms of the Convention settled.

    History of the drafting process

    By resolution 56/168 of 19 December 2001, the UN General Assembly established the Committee to consider proposals for a convention to further the holistic approach in the work already done in the fields of social development, human rights and non-discrimination for people with disability[3]. The resolution invited Member States, relevant organisations in the UN system and interested intergovernmental and non-governmental organisations to contribute to the work entrusted to the Committee.

    The First Session of the Committee took place during July 2002. At the Second Session in June 2003, a Working Group was established to prepare and present a draft text on the Convention based on contributions submitted to the Committee and discussions and negotiations at each of the Sessions. The Working Group completed a draft text at a meeting held in January 2004 providing a basis for Member State negotiations.

    There were four Committee meetings held between May 2003 and September 2005. During these sessions the Committee undertook extensive first and second readings of the Working Group’s draft text, with proposals for amendment being made by participating Member States, NGOs, and national human rights institutions. At the end of the Sixth Session, the Committee approved a proposal that its Chair, Ambassador Don McKay, develop a synthesized text that reflected the work of the AHC to date. This ‘Chairs Text’ was released in October 2005 and formed the basis for the three week session in January 2006 (the Seventh Session).

    The Seventh Session was a complete ‘third read’ of all Articles contained in the Chair’s Text. The Text highlighted a degree of significant agreement across a number of Articles and, to keep the momentum, several key issues were deferred for further consideration amongst delegations in informal negotiations (in particular, legal capacity and necessary safeguards, education, and involuntary treatment). The Seventh Session also witnessed substantial movement on several Articles including, education, health, work, women and children with disabilities. At the conclusion of the Seventh Session, the Chair said:

    [w]e should focus at the August session on the substantive issues which remain’ and ‘I believe that it should be possible to adopt the draft Convention at the end of that session.[4]

    In August 2006 the Committee convened for its Eighth Session and finalised negotiations on the working text of the Convention. While much of the intense negotiation, debate and discussion about the draft Articles occurred in earlier Sessions, there were still some very contentious Articles that needed to be debated, negotiated and resolved at the Eighth Session, with an overarching impetus to reach consensus on all the Articles so the process of adopting the Convention by the General Assembly could be set in motion.

    The Australian Government delegation, which included an NGO and Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC) representative, has participated in all eight sessions of the Committee. Initially, the Australian position did not support the call for a thematic convention on disability[5]. Australia’s position was that if an instrument is needed, would a treaty be the best option[6]. Australia proposed the use of a protocol or an annexe to existing international instruments[7]. These positions are part of an overall push for reform in the Human Rights structure at the UN. Australia re-considered its position in October 2003 and has engaged constructively with the development of the Convention.

    Australian NGO representatives were valuable and active participants in the drafting negotiations. The NSW Disability Discrimination Legal Centre (DDLC) has had representatives at six of the eight Sessions. DDLC has participated on behalf of the National Association of Community Legal Centres (NACLC), which, being in consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council, gains automatic accreditation. Other Australian NGOs that have been heavily involved include the Australian Federation of Disability Organisations (AFDO) and People With Disability Australia Inc.

    General principles of the Convention

    The Convention is the first ever binding international instrument concerned exclusively with disability rights. It is a thematic convention that articulates the fundamental rights and freedoms within the International Bill of Human Rights and places them in a disability context. The Convention draws on the principles of the UN Charter — namely, the inherent dignity and the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family as the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world. It also recalls the rights and freedoms enshrined in other international covenants on human rights[8].

    Article 3 sets out the general principles of the Convention:

    (a) Respect for inherent dignity, individual autonomy, including the freedom to make one’s own choices, and independence of persons;

    (b) Non-discrimination;

    (c) Full effective participation and inclusion in society;

    (d) Respect for difference and acceptance of disability as part of human diversity and humanity;

    (e) Equality of opportunity;

    (f) Accessibility;

    (g) Equality between men and women;

    (h) Respect for the evolving capacities of children with disabilities and respect for the right of children with disabilities to preserve their identities.

    These principles are encapsulated, promoted and protected within the fifty Articles that comprise the Convention. The Articles cover a very broad range of civil, political and social activities including education, reproduction, legal capacity, situations of risk, access to the physical environment, access to justice, freedom of expression, health, work and employment, participation in political and public life, and freedom from violence and abuse.

    The Convention not only enunciates rights for people with disability, but also imposes obligations on States Parties to give effect to and actualise these rights. Australian federal legislation[9] currently goes some way to meeting some of the Convention’s obligations. However, if adopted, Australia too may need to revise and raise its standards on accessibility, non-discrimination, equal opportunity and full participation.

    Contentious Articles of the Eighth Session

    In his concluding remarks to the Seventh Session[10], Ambassador McKay identified a number of issues remaining to be resolved at the Eighth Session. He implored delegations to work hard prior to August to develop considered and clear positions on these issues. He also encouraged delegations to liaise and negotiate outside Sessions to expedite final negotiations and decision-making in August. Despite this, delegations engaged in vigorous debate and negotiations on a number of contentious Articles, discussed below.

    Definition of ‘disability’ — Article 2

    The final text of Article 2 (Definitions) does not include a definition of ‘disability’. However, Article 1 (Purpose) reads as follows:

    The purpose of the present Convention is to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities, and to promote respect for their inherent dignity.
    Persons with disabilities include those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual, or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.

    The inclusion of a definition of disability had not been strongly supported and, as reported by the Chair, it was considered that a definition would not be included[11]. The rationale for this primarily was twofold. Firstly, a definition could unintentionally exclude some people. Secondly, because Member States’ views were so divergent, there was a view that no consensus could ever be reached. However, the counter-view was that without a definition of disability the universal application of equality rights across a range of life activities can only ever operate effectively to achieve formal rather than substantive equality. Where accommodations may be required for the enjoyment of rights, so that real and substantive equality is achieved, it is essential to clearly identify the persons (with disability) for whom States Parties have an obligation to ensure those accommodations are implemented.

    NACLC strongly supported the inclusion of an inclusive definition of disability, similar to that found in section 4 of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth) (DDA). This definition encompasses present, past (in recession), future and imputed disabilities.

    In NACLC’s view, the failure to include a definition of disability would provide States Parties with the potential to significantly reduce their obligations under the Convention once adopted, by applying their own restrictive definitions that may exclude, for example, people who experience mental illnesses or learning disorders. This would effectively mean that rather than having a single international human rights instrument, we would have a number of different standards applying from Member State to Member State, with persons with a particular disability gaining protection in one Member State, but not in another.

    The existence of varying definitions would create a situation where the operation of the Convention in one Member State could be significantly different to its operation in another. This would create serious difficulties in the effective monitoring and enforcement of the Convention, as different States Parties could claim different obligations depending on the scope of their definition and report against that set of obligations rather than a commonly agreed set. Comparability of State implementation goes to the very heart of the achievement internationally of equality rights for persons with disability.

    At the close of the Seventh Session, the Chair proposed text for a definition of disability for consideration for inclusion in Article 2, as follows:

    ‘Disability’ results from the interaction between persons with impairments, conditions or illnesses and the environmental and attitudinal barriers they face. Such impairments, conditions or illnesses may be permanent, temporary, intermittent or imputed, and include those that are physical, sensory, psychosocial, neurological, medical or intellectual.

    The negotiations recognised the need to identify the scope of States’ obligations but agreement could not be reached on the wording. The European Union proposed a preambular statement recognising the concept of disability. Many States were supportive of this but wanted the text of the definition within the operative and binding sections of the Convention.

    As a means of compromise, the Australian Government delegation proposed a revised Article 1 — Purpose[12]. The proposal combined Draft Article 1 — Purpose with the Chair’s proposed definition of disability (above).

    As a result there is no binding definition of ‘disability’ in the Convention, but there now exists within the operative part of the Convention a clarification both as to the scope of the provisions contained within the Convention and to whom those provisions are intended to benefit, providing guidance to States and the treaty body.

    Definition of ‘reasonable accommodation’ — Article 2

    The final text of the definition of ‘reasonable accommodation’ in Article 2 reads:

    ‘Reasonable Accommodation’ means necessary and appropriate modification and adjustments not imposing a disproportionate or undue burden, where needed in a particular case, to ensure to persons with disabilities the enjoyment or exercise on an equal basis with others of all human rights and fundamental freedoms.

    At the conclusion of the Seventh Session, Article 2 contained a draft definition of ‘reasonable accommodation’ that referred to ‘adjustments not imposing a disproportionate burden [our emphasis]’ only. NACLC contended that ‘disproportionate burden’ was an unsatisfactory standard to limit the making of reasonable accommodations for people with disability because:

    • it is an acutely subjective standard;

    • the modification and adjustments that must be made are already qualified with ‘necessary and appropriate’;

    • ‘burden’ has negative implications suggesting people with disability are ‘carried’ through as a community sacrifice or are a ‘drain’ on society;

    • it is a comparatively low threshold for States Parties to meet, and

    • there is no developed jurisprudence on this standard, as compared to other standards, like ‘unjustifiable hardship’.

    At the Eighth Session NACLC advocated the ‘unjustifiable hardship’ standard, in particular because it provides a higher threshold for States Parties to meet to show why a reasonable accommodation was not made. The Australian DDA relies on this standard[13] and a burgeoning body of case law provides instructive jurisprudence.

    The wording of the definition of ‘reasonable accommodation’ in the final draft employs ‘disproportionate or undue burden’ as the standard. The term ‘undue’ is used as an exception in several jurisdictions including Canada[14] and the United States[15], both of which provide significant jurisprudence, as opposed to the relatively new European Union term ‘disproportionate’. Additionally, ‘undue burden’ is used in United States accessibility standards.[16] This compromise was negotiated by the Australian government delegation to allow for jurisprudence from well-established discrimination law jurisdictions to inform the application of the standard.

    Legal capacity and supported decision-making — Article 12

    The final text of Article 12 (Equal recognition before the law), that focuses on legal capacity, reads:

    3. States Parties shall take appropriate measures to provide access by persons with disabilities to the support they may require in exercising their legal capacity.
    4. States Parties shall ensure that all measures that relate to the exercise of legal capacity provide for appropriate and effective safeguards to prevent abuse in accordance with international human rights law. Such safeguards shall ensure that measures relating to the exercise of legal capacity respect the rights, will and preferences of the person, are free of conflict of interest and undue influence, are proportional and tailored to the person’s circumstances, apply for the shortest time possible and are subject to regular review by a competent, independent and impartial authority or judicial body. The safeguards shall be proportional to the degree to which such measures affect the person’s rights and interests.
    5. Subject to the provisions of this article States Parties shall take all appropriate and effective measures to ensure the equal right of persons with disabilities to own or inherit property, to control their own financial affairs and to have equal access to bank loans, mortgages and other forms of financial credit, and shall ensure that persons with disabilities are not arbitrarily deprived of their property.

    Article 12 concerns equal recognition of people with disability before the law — a matter also covered broadly in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)[17]. It recognises that, in a particular circumstance, a person’s disability may prevent them from exercising legal capacity and they may require supported decision-making (or, in some rare circumstances, after all other support measures have been exhausted, substituted decision-making).

    NACLC’s main concerns about this Article were that:

    • there be a strong presumption that each person has legal capacity;

    • substituted decision-making should only ever be instituted as a last resort;

    • recognition that difficulty in exercising one’s capacity is far removed from inability to exercise one’s capacity;

    • the paramountcy of an expert and impartial tribunal to assess whether supported or substituted decision-making measures are necessary on a case-by-case basis, and

    • other appropriate and effective international human rights safeguards to prevent abuse.

    Traditionally in Australia guardianship arrangements and protective regimes have been imposed on people with disability on an ‘all or nothing’ basis and have not been subject to regular periodic review. It is too simplistic to conclude that a person can or can’t make decisions for themselves — there must be recognition of a sliding scale that promotes supported decision-making. Difficulty in communicating or decision-making is not the same as inability. Moreover, because most psychiatric disabilities are episodic, it is incumbent that supported decision-making be regularly, professionally and impartially reviewed.

    The Australian government delegation worked constructively in conjunction with Australian NGO delegates and the delegations of Canada and New Zealand. The work focused on ensuring the maximisation of an individual’s participation in the decision-making process and inclusion of effective review and legal safeguards and recognition of substituted decision-making as a position of absolute last resort. The final wording of Article 12 imports these safeguards into a supported decision-making model.

    Access to justice — Article 13

    The final text for Article 13 reads:

    1. States Parties shall ensure effective access to justice for persons with disabilities on an equal basis with others, including through the provision of procedural and age appropriate accommodations, in order to facilitate their effective role as direct and indirect participants, including as witnesses, in all legal proceedings, including at investigative and other preliminary stages.
    2. In order to help ensure effective access to justice for persons with disabilities, States Parties shall promote appropriate training for those working in the field of administration of justice, including police and prison staff.

    Article 12 was also of concern as it really only covers one aspect of equality before the law. It focuses on recognition of legal capacity and does not delve deeper to explore access to justice issues. AFDO raised this as a significant problem by way of formal intervention to the Committee. AFDO stressed that people with disability do not enjoy equality before the law because legal procedures, rules, and practices are very disabling, especially for people with cognitive disability. This results in situations, for example, where women with intellectual or psychiatric disability are subject to higher levels of violence than virtually any other members of the community. These crimes are rarely reported, and where reported, are rarely investigated. Where they are investigated rarely leads to prosecution, and where prosecution does occur, conviction is rarer still.

    Article 13 (Access to justice) goes some way to remedy this gap. The final wording of the Article requires States Parties to make adjustments to legal procedure and rules of evidence to ensure effective access to justice for persons with disability on an equal basis with others.

    Protecting the integrity of the person — Article 17

    Article 17 (Protecting the integrity of the person), in the version of the final text, reads:

    Every person with disabilities has a right to respect for his or her physical and mental integrity on an equal basis with others.

    Article 17 introduces the concept of personal integrity in a stand-alone article for the first time in a human rights treaty. The inclusion of the right to respect physical and mental integrity picks up principles reflected in the ICCPR and the Convention Against Torture. The inclusion of this as a substantive article was to address issues of concern with the provision of compulsory treatment or intervention. For example, where police detain a person whom they consider is experiencing a psychiatric episode and, to avoid harm to that person or others in their view, requires immediate medical intervention at a hospital psychiatric unit. Or, where a person with an intellectual disability refuses to go to the dentist for treatment on an infected tooth.

    These forms of intervention operate outside the notion of informed consent and so the principles of legal capacity (found in Article 12) do not apply. Article 17’s inclusion has been contentious through negotiations in all sessions — amongst Member States, and NGOs as well.

    Each year DDLC is contacted by a number of people who have been subjected to excessively forceful, distressing and, we would submit, unwarranted intervention by police and health services, when they are alleged to be ‘having an episode’. In some alarming instances the person is handled brutally, not assessed immediately by a medical expert and forced to take potent medication (sometimes with long-term detrimental side effects) or is subjected to invasive medical treatment. With no independent person to corroborate the person’s experience, these abuses continue and are not properly investigated.

    NACLC’s ideal position on Article 17 is that there should be no intervention by the State under any circumstances. However, it being extremely unlikely that all Member States would agree not to engage in such conduct and the reality that this conduct will continue, NACLC’s fallback position was that intervention or treatment without or against a person’s consent should be rare in the extreme and should be closely scrutinised, regulated and subject to independent review. Article 17 should protect the integrity of people with disability who are confronted with such situations.

    NACLC has been concerned to ensure that the wording of this Article both protects and respects the wishes and autonomy of the individual. It should not allow States Parties or others to determine that a particular treatment outcome is an ‘improvement’ for a person with disability, where that person expresses an unwillingness to receive treatment. NACLC has sought the wording of Article 17 to contain rigorous, appropriate and effective safeguards analogous to those in Article 12.

    Debate over the wording of Article 17 at the Eighth Session was intense, with some NGO delegates vehement that forced intervention is never justified under any circumstances, and therefore should not be acknowledged in the Convention.

    ‘Personal integrity’ is an implied right drawn from rights found in the ICCPR[18]. It imports a ‘public order’ exception[19] which the HRC stated in General Comments recognises intervention by a State on the ground of mental illness where there is a risk or threat to ‘public order’[20]. In essence, Article 17 is silent on what States must or must not do in these circumstances, and it does not contain any positive obligation to promote alternatives to intervention. DDLC considers Article 17 does not add any real protections for people subjected to forced intervention, and that present abuses in this area will continue, particularly in countries where there are no structured assessment or review mechanisms in place.

    Education — Article 24

    The final text of Article 24 reads:

    1. States Parties recognize the right of persons with disabilities to education. With a view to realizing this right without discrimination and on the basis of equal opportunity, States Parties shall ensure an inclusive, education system at all levels, and life-long learning, directed to:
    (a) The full development of the human potential and sense of dignity and self worth, and the strengthening of respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms and human diversity;
    (b) The development by persons with disabilities of their personality, talents and creativity, as well as their mental and physical abilities, to their fullest potential;
    (c) Enabling persons with disabilities to participate effectively in a free society.
    2. In realizing this right, States Parties shall ensure:
    (a) That persons with disabilities are not excluded from the general education system on the basis of disability, and that children with disabilities are not excluded from free and compulsory primary and secondary education on the basis of disability;
    (b) That persons with disabilities can access an inclusive, quality, free primary and secondary education on an equal basis with others in the communities in which they live;
    (c) Reasonable accommodation of the individual’s requirements;
    (d) That persons with disabilities receive the support required, within the general education system, to facilitate their effective education;
    (d) That effective individualized support measures are provided in environments that maximize academic and social development, consistent with the goal of full inclusion.
    3. States Parties shall enable persons with disabilities to learn life and social development skills to facilitate their full and equal participation in education and as members of the community. To this end, States Parties shall take appropriate measures, including:
    (a) Facilitating the learning of Braille, alternative script, augmentative and alternative modes, means and formats of communication, orientation and mobility skills, and facilitating peer support and mentoring;
    (b) Facilitating the learning of sign language and the promotion of the linguistic identity of the deaf community;
    (c) Ensuring that the education of persons, and in particular children, who are blind, deaf and deafblind, is delivered in the most appropriate languages and modes and means of communication for the individual, and in environments which maximize academic and social development.
    4. In order to help ensure the realization of this right, States Parties shall take appropriate measures to employ teachers, including those with disabilities, who are qualified in sign language and Braille, and to train professionals and staff who work at all levels of education. Such training shall incorporate disability awareness and the use of appropriate augmentative and alternative modes, means and formats of communication, educational techniques and materials to support persons with disabilities.
    5. States Parties shall ensure that persons with disabilities are able to access general tertiary education, vocational training, adult education and lifelong learning without discrimination and on an equal basis with others. To this end, States Parties shall ensure that reasonable accommodation is provided to persons with disabilities.

    Education was an acutely contentious topic. It was debated for a day and a half with over 110 interventions from Member States and NGO delegations. There is an underlying tension in the education debate around the principle of inclusive (also known as, mainstream) education. Some Member States strongly supported an exemption clause to allow for segregated education across the board. Despite this, there was significant support for this article to be based on the principle of inclusive education.

    Deaf and Blind organisations seek recognition of the life skills that people with disability need to acquire for them to interact with other similarly disabled persons and the community as a whole. The learning of skills such as Braille, sign language, orientation and mobility may be achieved most effectively in certain environments other than inclusive or mainstream settings. These skills may be acquired through a formal education system but also at any stage of life. It is important to recognise these skills are fundamental but may be relevant more broadly than just in the context of education.

    The final wording of Article 24 (Education) evinces a commitment to the goal of full inclusion of people with disability in education, by means of an approach premised on progressive realisation in environments that maximise academic and social development of people with disability.

    National implementation and monitoring — Articles 33 and following

    The Eighth Session focused considerable attention on whether there should be Articles establishing an international monitoring mechanism to oversee the effectiveness of the Convention’s protection regime, promotion of disability rights and implementation of uniform international standards, and, if so, what form they should take. NACLC raised several important issues in this regard at the Eighth Session:

    • any monitoring committee must be representative of people with disability and be constituted by a majority of people with disability;

    • instituting an international disability ombudsman

    or advocate;

    • instituting a United Nations Special Rapporteur

    on Disability;

    • formulating clear guidelines on the role of any monitoring committee, Rapporteur and ombudsman or advocate;

    • establishing a reporting regime (assessed against

    an action plan, with set compliance dates and benchmark levels), and

    • instituting an interstates complaint

    (or communications) mechanism.

    At the conclusion of the Eighth Session, the Convention included Articles covering international cooperation, national implementation and monitoring, the establishment of a committee on the rights of persons with disability (to, inter alia, receive and consider communications from individuals or groups), the establishment of regional integration organisations and a reporting regime for States Parties.

    Concluding remarks

    Australia’s extensive and impressive involvement has already been rewarded with the Plenary of the General Assembly adopting the Convention at its Sixty-First Session on 13 December 2006. In accordance with its Article 42, the Convention will be open for signature by all States and by regional integration organisations at United Nations Headquarters in New York, as of Friday 30 March 2007. It is hoped the Australian Government will now ratify the Convention expeditiously21 and, where necessary, amend Australian domestic law to meet the Convention’s standards. The Convention has both a practical and symbolic effect by reducing physical, attitudinal and social barriers that confront people with disability across the globe and by recognising, promoting and protecting their civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights on a unified and global stage.

    [*] ROSEMARY KAYESS teaches law at the University of New South Wales. She was a member of the Australian Government delegation to the Ad Hoc Committee in New York.

    BEN FOGARTY is the principal solicitor at the NSW Disability Discrimination Legal Centre and teaches law at the University of New South Wales

    © 2007 Rosemary Kayess and Ben Fogarty

    [1] The full text of the Draft Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities adopted on 25 August 2006 can be viewed at: <> at 18 February 2007.

    [2] It is estimated that there are more than half a billion people with disability in the world, with approximately 80 per cent of those people living in developing countries — <> at 18 February 2007.

    [3] The United Nations commitment to the advancement of the status of persons with disability is evidenced by: the International Year of Disabled Persons (1981), the World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons (1982), United Nations Decade of Disabled Persons (1983–1992), International Day of Disabled Persons (3 December), the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities (1993) and the Special Rapporteur on Disability (1994).

    [4] <> at 18 February 2007.

    [5] Delegation of the Australian Government to the second session of the General Assembly Ad Hoc Committee to consider proposals for a comprehensive and integral international convention to protect and promote the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities <> at 18 February 2007.

    [6] Canadian & Australian Government delegation second session of the General Assembly Ad Hoc Committee <> at 18 February 2007.

    [7] Australian Government delegation second session of the General Assembly Ad Hoc Committee <> at 18 February 2007.

    [8] In particular, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

    [9] Principally via the Disability Services Act 1986 (Cth) and the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth).

    [10] Above n 4.

    [11] Open Letter from His Excellency, Ambassador Don McKay, to the Committee, 7 October 2005.

    [12] Australian proposal, Article 1 — Purpose: ‘Disability’ results from the interaction between persons with impairments, conditions or illnesses and the environmental and attitudinal barriers they face. Such impairments, conditions or illnesses may be permanent, temporary, intermittent or imputed, and include those that are physical, sensory, psychosocial, neurological, medical or intellectual. The purpose of the present Convention is to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by persons with disabilities, and to promote respect for their inherent dignity.

    [13] Disability Discrimination Act 1992 s 11.

    [14] Canadian Human Rights Act s 15 <> at 18 February 2007.

    [15] Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 <> at 18 February 2007.

    [16] Rehabilitation Act 1973 (US), 29 USC 794d. < & ID=14> at 18 February 2007.

    [17] International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) art 14.

    [18] ICCPR eg, arts 7, 9, 10 of ICCPR.

    [19] ICCPR art 12 para 3.

    [20] HRC General Comment No 8.

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