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UN adoption of Disability Convention Welcomed

Human Rights Commission

14 December 2006

Commission welcomes UN adoption of Disability Convention

The Human Rights Commission today welcomed the news that the Plenary of the General Assembly of the United Nations has adopted the International Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities.

The convention is the first human rights treaty of the 21st century.

Human Rights Commissioner Robyn Hunt said that disabled communities in New Zealand could feel proud of their involvement in the negotiations in New York over the drafting of the convention. "There has been a great deal of hard work by a lot of people and disability organisations."

She said the convention would make a demonstrable difference to the lives of the 20 per cent of New Zealanders with experience of a disability.

Chief Human Rights Commissioner Rosslyn Noonan said that New Zealand diplomat Don McKay had successfully shepherded the draft convention through the final stages with wisdom and judicious knowledge of the United Nations environment.

When countries ratify the treaty they will have to enact laws and other measures to improve disability rights. They will be obliged to combat negative stereotypes and prejudices and to promote an awareness of people's abilities and contribution to society.

Other measures under the convention include guaranteeing that disabled people have a right to life on an equal basis with others and that access to public spaces, buildings, transport, information and communications is improved.

New Zealand is expected to ratify the convention next year. Once ratified, the Human Rights Commission will monitor New Zealand's compliance of the new convention.

ENDS

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