An online forum will be held next week to find out about how the government is progressing on implementing the United Nations Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (the Disability Convention).
The forum, ‘The Disability Convention: How is New Zealand doing?’, is being hosted by the Independent Monitoring Mechanism (IMM) made up of the Human Rights Commission, the Ombudsman and the Disabled People’s Organisations Coalition.
It is being held ahead of New Zealand’s second examination by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. A subsequent forum report will inform the Committee on the status of disability rights here in Aotearoa New Zealand.
Government ministers and officials are attending the forum and members of the public are invited to observe proceedings.
IMM Chair and National President Blind Citizens NZ Dr Jonathan Godfrey says disabled New Zealanders will get to watch and contribute to the proceedings.
“We’ll get to learn how much progress has really been made to protect and promote the rights of disabled people so that one day we’ll realise the dream of being on par with every other kiwi.”
“It will better prepare the Government for the UN Committee.”
HRC Disability Rights Commissioner Paula Tesoriero says the forum is a critical mechanism in holding the Government to account on their commitments to the Disability Convention.
Chief Ombudsman Peter Boshier says New Zealand has some way to go.
“It is my view that there is still a ‘quantum leap’ required to remove barriers for disabled people in New Zealand. We are all responsible for reducing disparities so must all take steps to ensure barriers are removed so disabled people can succeed.”
The forum will examine issues raised in monitoring reports published by the IMM over the past two years. Making Disability Rights Real in New Zealand and Making Disability Rights Real in a Pandemic.
“Disabled people from the IMM will ask questions of the Government and they’ll consider its responses to a range of recommendations made in the reports that are important to disabled people,” says Ms Tesoriero.
The review will centre on New Zealand’s commitment to Te Tiriti o Waitangi, how poverty is addressed, the integrity of the person, equity and access during humanitarian crises, equality, non-discrimination, access to justice, accessibility, and independence.
“This forum is a way for disabled people to engage directly with Government to better understand how the Disability Convention is being implemented here in New Zealand,” says Mr Boshier.
“It is essential to consistently review if we are meeting our obligations and identify and understand roadblocks to progress the rights of disabled people,” said Ms Tesoriero.
The online forum starts on March 29-30 and April 5-6. Observers will be able to send questions for consideration by a moderation panel at the beginning of each session.