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NZ leads UN to new disabilities treaty

Rt Hon Winston Peters
Minister of Foreign Affairs

Hon Ruth Dyson
Minister for Disability Issues

14 December 2006

Media statement

NZ leads UN to new treaty for people with disabilities

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which New Zealand played a leading role in finalising, was adopted by the United Nations today, said Foreign Minister Winston Peters and Disability Issues Minister Ruth Dyson.

"This is the first, new, comprehensive human rights treaty of the 21st Century, and New Zealand can be proud of the leadership role it provided throughout the five years of negotiations," Mr Peters said.

“Many disabled people around the world still face overwhelming obstacles to their day-to-day participation in society. Many are also victims of violence and exploitation. The new treaty will lead to a major shift in how governments treat people with impairments," said Ruth Dyson.

Ms Dyson noted that New Zealand was one of the few delegations to have disabled members and they played a major role in raising the Convention's standards. 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.

“States and disabilities organisations have worked together since 2001 to get a worthy and comprehensive outcome. It is a process that will set the benchmark for future standards and action," said Mr Peters.

“We are confident that the end product is worthy of the intensive resource committed to it. We now need to turn this effort into practical reality and ensure the Convention is made to work effectively for disabled people,” Ruth Dyson said.


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