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The OAS General Assembly, at its thirty-sixth regular session (Santo Domingo, June 2006), declared the Decade of the Americas for the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities (2006-2016), with the theme “Equality, Dignity, and Participation,” the objectives of which are the recognition and full exercise of the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities and their right to participate fully in economic, social, cultural, and political life and in the development of their societies, without discrimination and on an equal basis with others [AG/DEC 50 (XXXVI-0/06]. It also declared the need, during the aforementioned Decade, to undertake programs, plans, and measures to bring about the inclusion of and full participation by persons with disabilities in all aspects of society; to carry out social, political, economic, cultural, and development programs, so as to enable such persons to attain opportunities on an equal basis with others; to promote effective measures to prevent new disabilities; and to provide persons with disabilities with access to rehabilitation services and programs.

 

At that same regular session, in resolution [AG/RES. 2230 (XXXVI-O/06)], the General Assembly requested the Permanent Council to establish, in the framework of the Committee on Juridical and Political Affairs, a [working group] to prepare a Program of Action for the Decade of the Americas for the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities (2006-2016), taking into account the document entitled “Draft Program of Action for the Decade of the Americas for Persons with Disabilities (2006-2016),” presented by Peru [(CP/CAJP-2362/06 corr. 1)], as well as the inputs received, at the [special meeting] to be held in the second half of 2006, from the member states of the Organization, from the pertinent OAS organs, agencies, and entities, from other regional and international bodies, and from civil society organizations, including organizations of persons with disabilities and their families. The General Assembly requested the International Law Office to provide the broadest possible support for the Working Group’s activities.

In the past, the OAS has conducted efforts to eliminate discrimination against persons with disabilities. The [Inter-American Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities] was adopted in Guatemala City on June 7, 1999, at the twenty-ninth regular session of the OAS General Assembly, and entered into force on September 14, 2001. Article VI of that Convention states that a [Committee for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities] shall be established and shall hold its first meeting within the 90 days following the deposit of the 11th instrument of ratification. To date, there are more than 11 [states parties] to the Convention. The states parties undertake at the first meeting to present a [report] to the Secretary General of the Organization for transmission to the Committee so that it may be examined and reviewed.  The report is to include information on measures adopted by the member states pursuant to this Convention and on any progress made by the states parties in eliminating all forms of discrimination against persons with disabilities. The reports also are to indicate any circumstances or difficulties affecting the degree of fulfillment of the obligations arising from the Convention. Thereafter, reports are to be submitted every four years. At its thirty-sixth regular session (Santo Domingo, June 2006), in resolution [AG/RES. 2167 (XXXVI-O/06)], the General Assembly requested the Secretary General to convene the first meeting of the Committee during the second half of 2006.

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