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NZ plays leading role on disabilities

Rt Hon Winston Peters
Minister of Foreign Affairs

Hon Ruth Dyson
Minister for Disability Issues

28 August 2007

NZ plays leading role on UN disabilities convention

New Zealand has played a leading role in the successful negotiation of a United Nations Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities, says Foreign Minister Winston Peters.

"New Zealanders can be proud of the leadership our country has provided during the protracted negotiations which first began in 2001," Mr Peters said.

"The Convention will be the first new comprehensive human rights treaty of the 21st century and has the potential to make a difference in the lives of approximately 650 million people with disabilities around the world.

"New Zealand’s Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva, Don MacKay, chaired the difficult concluding sessions of the negotiations, and successfully steered delegates towards agreement on many previously unresolved issues just as time was running out.

"Members of New Zealand's disability community were also closely engaged in the drafting and negotiations, alongside officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the Office of Disability Issues."

Disability Issues Minister Ruth Dyson said she was pleased that disabled people's rights were now to be formally recognised by the UN.

"The Convention represents an important shift in governments' approach towards disability issues, and I am certain it will have a positive impact on the ability of disabled people to enjoy basic human rights," Ruth Dyson said.

"Importantly, the negotiations involved an unprecedented level of input from the people effected by it – the worldwide disabled community – which augurs well for its effectiveness.

"The Convention sets out a code of practice consistent with New Zealand's own Disability Strategy, and covers a full range of issues from access to justice, liberty of movement, education, health, living independently in the community and participation in society generally.

The UN General Assembly is expected to formally adopt the Convention later this year.


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