National Statement – 8th session of the Conference of States Parties

Wednesday, June 10, 2015 - 09:47
Disability Issues

Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa.

I am delighted to be attending my first Conference of States Parties in my role as Minister for Disability Issues. This is a role which allows me to advocate for persons with disabilities at the highest levels of Government.

The New Zealand Government warmly welcomes the appointment of Ms Catalina Devandas Aguilar as Special Rapporteur on Disability. We believe her wide and long standing experience working for the rights of persons with disabilities will serve her well in this important role.

Our Government commends the focus at this Conference on the inclusion of persons with disabilities in the Post-2015 development framework. This inclusion is key to ensuring that the framework benefits all peoples of the world.

Persons with disabilities are particularly vulnerable in conflict situations, and New Zealand welcomes the growing recognition of this in the Security Council. Our membership of the Council has given us the opportunity to advocate for the protection of citizens in situations of conflict, particularly persons with disabilities.

The growth of disability rights worldwide has been assisted by both the development of the caucus of indigenous persons with disabilities within the World Conference of Indigenous Peoples, and the growing recognition within the Pacific Region of the importance of ratifying and implementing the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. New Zealand also warmly welcomes the increased focus on women with disabilities, as evidenced by the strong focus on women with disabilities at the 20 year Post-Beijing Programme of Action event at the 59th Session on the Commission on the Status of Women.

Our Government holds a strong view that the best expertise on how to implement the Convention lies with persons with disabilities themselves. Our commitment to Article 4.3 of the Convention is shown by the co-design of the Disability Action Plan 2014-2018 by persons with disabilities and government agencies, through their representative organisations. We have a unique mechanism for implementing Article 33 on national implementation and monitoring of the Convention. We include the Convention Coalition, a group of Disabled Peoples’ Organisations, in our independent monitoring mechanism. This is another way of demonstrating our commitment to drawing on the experience of persons with disabilities themselves.

There are two areas where we are taking practical steps to ensure persons with disabilities can lead a good life and contribute to their communities, just like other New Zealanders. The first area is employment. Our Government recognises that making sure persons with disabilities have the same opportunities to secure meaningful employment is key to improving their wellbeing. The other area our Government is focused on is changing the way persons with disabilities receive disability supports and services to ensure they have maximum choice and control.

Our Government warmly welcomes the opportunity to be at this Conference of States Parties. We look forward to further progress in implementing the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities so persons with disabilities can fully exercise their rights as citizens worldwide.