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Government ratifying UN Disability Convention

Hon Ruth Dyson
Minister for Disability Issues

24th September 2008 Media Statement

Government ratifying UN Disability Convention

Protecting the rights and promoting the interests of disabled people will be cemented further following the imminent ratification of the United Nations Disability Convention.

The ratification heralds a momentous day for the disabled community and continues the progress the government has made over the past eight years in promoting an inclusive society where disabled people are valued and fully participate.

Ruth Dyson, Minister for Disability Issues, said the ratification will be a landmark day for New Zealand as it reinforces the government’s commitment to enshrining the rights of disabled people.

"Sanctioning the Convention underscores the progress in improving work opportunities and access to services desired by disabled people. It is fitting that ratification will start on 26 September, Dominion Day, which itself marked a change in status for our country towards greater self-determination" said Mike Gourley, President of the Disabled Persons Assembly of New Zealand.

"New Zealand’s ratification of the United Nations Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities reflects the very strong spirit of partnership between government agencies and disabled people’s organisations. It also reflects a leadership role that New Zealand played in the United Nations negotiations," said Ms Dyson.

The Convention sets out in practical measures what States should do to ensure disabled people can enjoy human rights on an equal basis with others. It places obligations on States to promote protect and ensure those rights as well as mechanisms to support implementation and monitoring.

"It also strengthens the relationship between the government and the disability sector which has been guided by the development of the New Zealand Disability Strategy," said Ms Dyson.

"New Zealand is one of the few countries in the world to have a disability strategy. That and other initiatives have seen significant progress in removing barriers experienced by disabled people. There is however more work to be done and the Convention will be a useful tool to assist the government with this work."

Earlier this year New Zealand was awarded the 2007 Roosevelt International Disability Award. This Award recognises countries that have made sustained improvements, over time, in the lives of disabled people through economic, humanitarian and social efforts.


Notes to Editor:

• The United Nations General Assembly adopted the text of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on 13 December 2006.

• The guiding principles of the convention are:
1. Respect for inherent dignity, individual autonomy including the freedom to make one's own choices, and independence of persons.
2. Non-discrimination.
3. Full and effective participation and inclusion in society.
4. Respect for difference and acceptance of persons with disabilities as part of human diversity and humanity.
5. Equality of opportunity.
6. Accessibility.
7. Equality between men and women.
Respect for the evolving capacities of children with disabilities and respect for the right of children with disabilities to preserve their identities.


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