Accession to UN convention significant development for disabled New Zealanders

Accession to UN convention significant development for disabled New Zealanders

October 5, 2016

The Human Rights Commission says the rights of New Zealanders with disabilities will be strengthened this month with New Zealand’s accession to the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

“This is a significant development for almost 1 in 4 New Zealanders. Disabled New Zealanders who claim their rights have been breached under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and who have exhausted domestic remedies will soon be able to make a complaint to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities,” said Disability Rights Commissioner Paul Gibson.

“The accession strengthens and protects the human rights of New Zealanders with disabilities.”

The Optional Protocol to the Convention enables the Committee to examine individual complaints against member states. As of May 2016 the protocol has 92 signatories and 89 state parties. It was adopted by the United Nations ten years ago.

“We would like to acknowledge many New Zealanders from the disability community as well as Government who have helped with the creation of the Convention and the protocol,” said Mr Gibson.

“In particular we pay tribute to UN CRPD committee member and New Zealand disability rights advocate, Robert Martin.”

While there are a range of ways to resolve complaints domestically, this important development will enhance the international human rights protections available to New Zealanders.

The Optional Protocol will come into force for New Zealand from 20 October 2016.

Human Rights Commission

The Commission works for a free, fair, safe and just New Zealand, where diversity is valued and human dignity and rights are respected.