DECLARATION OF QUITO

The participants nominated by the Governments of the Hemisphere gathered in Quito, Ecuador, on April 9-11, 2003, on the occasion of the Regional Seminar and Workshop of the Americas, exchanged views, information and experience on existing norms and standards related to the rights of persons with disabilities and development, and on the basis of their deliberations declare the following:

The representatives recognize that the challenges faced by persons with disabilities are generally of a structural nature, which requires actions by States to prevent their exclusion, and to promote their full participation in all aspects of political, economical, social, and cultural life under equal opportunities.

They also express their concern for the conditions of disadvantage of most persons with disabilities, whose human rights are frequently violated by discriminatory practices, lack of participation in decision making and abuses derived from prejudices and stereotypes.

They recognize the urgency of renewing efforts and making a global commitment to have all persons with disabilities fully enjoy all their rights.  Accordingly, they deem as a transcendental achievement the adoption by the United Nation's General Assembly of resolution 56/168 in December 2001, related to the Comprehensive and Integral International Convention to Promote and Protect the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities, as an answer to the legitimate demands of persons and non-governmental organizations that have raised their voices on behalf of more than 600 million persons with disabilities around the world, the majority of whom live in a situation of poverty, and the aspiration of all countries to achieve both a universal awareness and better living conditions.

They support the drafting of an international convention based on internationally recognized rights and principles, that reflects the universality, indivisibility and interdependence of all human rights and the principle of non-discrimination and they consider that the experiences, norms and standards related to social development are key elements of this convention.

They reiterate that it is precisely through the promotion of the rights of persons with disabilities and the identification of the best mechanisms to ensure the exercise thereof, that each State, acting within the framework of its sovereign competence and taking into account their different levels of development, adopt measures required to guarantee the access of persons with disabilities to a better quality of life in all countries.

The participants nominated by the Governments express their deep concern because of the fact that eighty percent of persons with disabilities in the world live in developing countries, and they recognize the need for the convention to promote international cooperation measures, in order to significantly improve the quality of life of persons with disabilities in those regions where their situation is even more marginal.

They reaffirm their conviction that the concerns, contributions and experiences of those actors who will be its main beneficiaries should be taken into account in the development of a legal instrument of this nature. In this sense, they welcome the adoption of resolution 56/510 of the General Assembly, which approves the broadest possible participation by non-governmental organizations, especially organizations of persons with disabilities, in the workings of the Special Committee in charge of drafting the Convention, and they reaffirm the importance for the process of the Convention to continue to be inclusive.

They underline the need for the Special Committee, which will meet during the second session in New York on June 16-27, 2003, devotes itself to consider all proposals for a draft Convention that may have been submitted until that time, including the text proposed by the Government of Mexico, and the suggestions on that text which have been formulated by the Governments of Venezuela and Ecuador.

They reiterate the relevance of the contributions that the Committee will receive as a result of the regional meetings held in Thailand, Lebanon, South Africa and Belgium, expert meetings and numerous contributions from Governments, intergovernmental organizations, specialized agencies, and non-governmental organizations, and especially the results of this important meeting.

The designated representatives nominated by the Governments declare their commitment to participate actively and constructively in this significant negotiation process, and they express their intention to completing and accepting an international convention within a reasonable period of time.

Quito, April 11th 2003

Footnote:

While supporting selected elements of this document, the United States of America and Canada cannot join consensus on this document, as these governments are currently reviewing and furmulating positions on these issues.