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Ban Ki-moon Hails NZ's Lead On Disability Issues

Ban Ki-moon Hails New Zealand's Leadership On Disability Issues

6 May 2008 - Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today congratulated the Government and people of New Zealand, the recipient of this year's Franklin Delano Roosevelt International Disability Award, for their efforts to improve the lives of those living with disabilities.

The Award is presented by the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute to a UN Member State that makes noteworthy progress towards the full participation of citizens with disabilities as called for in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

In his remarks at the award ceremony, Mr. Ban noted that New Zealand is widely recognized for its leadership on disability issues, particularly as a leading proponent of the Disabilities Convention, which just entered into force on 3 May.

Ambassador Don McKay of New Zealand chaired the committed tasked with drafting the Convention, and his "inspired leadership ensured an open, transparent and inclusive process that led us to a successful outcome," the Secretary-General noted.

The Ambassador's leadership was a reflection of his country's deep commitment to disability issues domestically, Mr. Ban added, noting that the Government's comprehensive disability strategy led New Zealand to adopt Sign Language as its third official language in 1996. It has also promoted quality living for persons with disabilities within their communities.

"As a result of these many similar measures, New Zealand has become a model for the world on disability issues," said Mr. Ban. "Your example strengthens our resolve to ensure human rights and development for all - especially through the full and meaningful participation of persons with disabilities in every level of society, from the local to the global."

The Secretary-General's own country, the Republic of Korea, was the first recipient of the Award, which was established in 1995.

ENDS

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