Disability Convention

In mid to late 2019New Zealand’s compliance with the Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities will be reviewed. This will be New Zealand’s second review since they ratified the Convention in 2008. The review takes place every four years. 

This review is carried out by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. New Zealand’s review will take place in Geneva as part of the Group’s 19th session.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is an international human rights treaty intended to protect the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities. Parties to the Convention are required to promote, protect and ensure the full enjoyment of human rights by persons with disabilities and ensure that they enjoy full equality under the law.  

The Convention has served as the major catalyst in the global movement from viewing persons with disabilities as recipients of charity, medical treatment and social protection towards viewing them as full and equal members of society with human rights. It is also the only United Nations human rights instrument with a clear sustainable development dimension. The Convention was the first human rights treaty of the twenty-first century.  

The text of the Convention was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 13 December 2006 and came into force on 3 May 2008. The Convention is monitored by the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. 

There are eight guiding principles that underlie the Convention:

  1. Respect for inherent dignity, individual autonomy including the freedom to make one's own choices, and independence of persons 

  2. Non-discrimination 

  3. Full and effective participation and inclusion in society 

  4. Respect for difference and acceptance of persons with disabilities as part of human diversity and humanity 

  5. Equality of opportunity 

  6. Accessibility 

  7. Equality between men and women 

  8. Respect for the evolving capacities of children with disabilities and respect for the right of children with disabilities to preserve their identities 

The full text of the Convention (and its Optional Protocol) can be found here.

The IMM and the CRPD 

An Independent Monitoring Mechanism (IMM) was designated by the New Zealand Government in 2010 to fulfil obligations under Article 33 (National implementation and monitoring) of the Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). It is made up of the Human Rights Commission, the Office of the Ombudsman and the Disabled People’s Organisations (DPOs) Coalition. 

DPOs are an alliance of Disabled People’s Organisations that undertake activities such as research on the lives of disabled people. 

The Human Rights Commission (the Commission) which is part of the IMM derives its statutory mandate from the Human Rights Act 1993 (‘HRA’). One of the primary functions of the Commission is to promote and protect the full and equal enjoyment of human rights by persons with disabilities.  

The Ombudsmen are Officers of Parliament. Each Ombudsman is appointed by the Governor-General on the recommendation of Parliament. They are responsible to Parliament and independent of the Government. The Ombudsmen investigate, review and inspect the conduct of public sector agencies and provide advice and guidance to ensure people are treated fairly in New Zealand. 

The IMM sent a submission to the Committee in November 2017. This List of Issues identified 6 key priority areas for disabled people being:

  1. Data: there are large gaps in disaggregated disability data in New Zealand.

  2. Education: engagement with education is one of the most critical protective factors and indicators of a life course. Our education system is not fully inclusive. 42% of disabled young people aged 15-24 are not in education, training or employment.

  3. Employment: Unlocking the employment potential of people with disabilities is critical both for their independence and self-worth. 25% of disabled persons are in the labour force compared to 75% of non-disabled persons.

  4. Seclusion and Restraint: seclusion and restraint is overused and not always used as a last resort as part of a suite of options.

  5. Access to information and communication: disabled people still are not getting fundamental information communicated in accessible ways.

  6. Housing: there is a lack of accessible housing in New Zealand in all housing sectors.

On 6 March 2018, the IMM discussed the List of Issues with the Committee via video conference. Following the discussion, the Committee released a copy of its advance List of Issues (the questions it has for the New Zealand Government). 

A copy of the IMM submission (and other submissions) and the advance List of Issues from the Committee can be found here.

Making submissions and timeframes 

The Government typically has a year to respond to this List of Issues. The Committee considers this response and then holds a review session for the New Zealand Government.  

The Committee will announce the date when submissions or shadow reports are due from other parties at the end of March. Anyone can make a submission on any aspect covered under the Convention.  

The IMM will keep people posted as to dates and opportunities to feed into the IMM’s submission to the Committee. 

If you have any questions or issues you wish to raise with us please email us at internationalreporting@hrc.co.nz