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NZ delegation promotes UN disability convention

24 July 2003 Media Statement

NZ delegation promotes UN disability convention

A New Zealand delegation has made a significant contribution to the development of a convention on the rights of people with disabilities, after attending a meeting at the United Nations last month, Foreign Minister Phil Goff and Disability Issues Minister Ruth Dyson said today.

The delegation included senior officials from the Office for Disability Issues and Human Rights Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Human Rights Commissioner Robyn Hunt, and two people with disabilities nominated by disability organisations, Gary Williams and Dave Henderson.

Phil Goff said the New Zealand delegation played a major role in proposing to establish a working group to develop text for the draft convention. The group will be made up of 27 representatives of states, 12 NGOs and a representative from human rights institutions. It will meet early next year to consider proposals for the convention text, and will report back to the United Nations. New Zealand is seeking membership of the group.

“This is an excellent outcome for New Zealand and people with disabilities. Considerable momentum has been achieved on the convention process. I look forward to receiving recommendations from the delegation on how New Zealand can continue its involvement in the convention’s development, and ensure the rights of people with disabilities are articulated in a new international treaty,” Mr Goff said.

Ruth Dyson congratulated the Ministry of Social Development for funding Mr Williams and Mr Henderson to be part of the delegation.

“It is essential that people with disabilities provide leadership in the development of the convention, and are recognised as experts from their experience of living with impairments. New Zealand’s proactive leadership was noted by other delegations and non-governmental organisations.

“New Zealand was awarded three badges of honour at the meeting from the international NGO community for its progressive approach to disability issues and for the leadership it brought to the meeting,” Ms Dyson said.


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