WELLINGTON, March 16 (Bernama) — A New Zealand man who has become the first person with a learning disability to sit on the United Nations committee for disabled people was congratulated by his government Thursday, China’s Xinhua news agency reported.
Robert Martin would be serving a four-year term on the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
“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,” Disability Issues Minister Nicky Wagner said in a statement.
“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,” said Wagner.
“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,” Wagner said.
“Ensuring reasonable accommodations 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 was expected to begin its second review of New Zealand’s implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.