NZer makes history on UN committee

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Disability Issues Minister Nicky Wagner today congratulates Robert Martin on becoming the first person with a learning disability to sit on the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

“Robert will soon be heading to Geneva, Switzerland to serve a four year term on the Committee. He will be working as an independent expert to monitor countries and their implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities,” Ms Wagner says.

“Robert, having grown up in an institution and overcome much adversity, will be a unique voice at the table. His personal experiences and passion will go a long way toward promoting positive change for disabled people.

“Even before arriving in Geneva, Robert’s having a positive impact. He’s helped broaden the UN’s thinking about ‘reasonable accommodations’.”

Reasonable accommodations support a disabled person to participate on an equal basis, and can include things like allowing more time to look over material or providing a support person.

“I’m thrilled to hear the UN has agreed to provide Robert the support he needs. Now, he can think about the bigger things, like how to make his role on the Committee really count,” Ms Wagner says.

“Ensuring reasonable accommodations are available at the UN will open the door for other disabled people to represent and be represented within the organisation. This is another move toward achieving a non-disabling society — one where disabled people can have the support they need to live a good life in their workplace, home and community.”

Later this year, the Committee is expected to begin its second review of New Zealand’s implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The meetings can be viewed online at: http://webtv.un.org/meetings-events/