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NZ's nomination to UN Committee potentially a world first

New Zealand’s nomination to UN Committee potentially a world first.

The Minister for Disability Issues Hon. Tariana Turia has announced that Robert Martin will be New Zealand’s candidate for the 2016 election of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Minister Turia presented New Zealand’s statement to the Seventh Conference of States Parties on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in New York on 10 June 2014.

If elected, it is believed that Robert Martin may be the first person with a learning/ intellectual disability in the world to serve on the UN Committee. Robert is a leader amongst the New Zealand disability community, having also helped to write the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and as a recipient of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

Robert Martin is one of the founding members of People First New Zealand Ngā Tāngata Tuatahi – one of 7 Disabled Persons Organisations working together with the New Zealand Government on the new Disability Action Plan for 2014-2018 released last week. People First NZ is a nationwide self-advocacy organisation run by and for people with learning disability and is guided in its work by the international self-advocacy motto “Nothing About Us, Without Us”. Robert was awarded Life Membership of People First in 2010, the first person to be given the honour in recognition of his services to people with learning disability.

Speaking from Wellington today, People First National Chairperson Hamish Taverner extended his congratulations to Robert for his nomination on behalf of all of the members of the organisation. “He supports us People First members and he helps us speak up for our rights. He is the right candidate for the position. People with learning disability should be around the table and represented. By having Robert there, the United Nations will know more about people with learning disability and we will have a voice.”

For more information on this emerging story contact: Matt Frost, Office for Disability Issues matt.frost003@msd.govt.nz

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