The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is the first human rights convention of the 21st century.
New Zealand signed the Convention in March 2007 and ratified it in September 2008. This means New Zealand must make a regular report to the United Nations on how the country has implemented the Convention.
The Convention has the potential to make a real difference to the lives of people living with disability.
It does not create any new rights - it simply guarantees that people with disabilities will enjoy rights on an equal basis with people without disabilities.
Like the New Zealand Disability Strategy, the Convention covers all areas of life, all ages and life stages. It has obligations on government and the private sector. But it is the government that is accountable to the United Nations, and government agencies need to take leadership in encouraging action by the private sector.
You can read the Convention online - there are a number of formats and translations available.
What are the specific rights in the Convention?
The Convention states that persons with disabilities enjoy the same human rights as everyone. The specific rights recognised in the Convention are:
- equality before the law without discrimination
- right to life, liberty and security of the person
- equal recognition before the law and legal capacity
- freedom from torture
- freedom from exploitation, violence and abuse
- right to respect physical and mental integrity
- freedom of movement and nationality
- right to live in the community
- freedom of expression and opinion
- respect for privacy
- respect for home and the family
- right to education
- right to health
- right to work
- right to an adequate standard of living
- right to participate in political and public life
- right to participate in cultural life
So...how can I use it? What difference will it make in my life?
The Human Rights Commission talked to some disability advocates about how the Convention affects their own lives.
Making disability rights real
To help monitor the Convention in New Zealand, a group of agencies has been set up to report on the government. This group is made up of three independent partners: the Human Rights Commission, the Ombudsmen and the New Zealand Convention Coalition.
Find more information
- The Human Rights Commission has a short guide to the Convention - What is the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities? It is available in a number of languages
- Learn more about the Convention at the Office for Disability Issues
- The Harvard Law School Project on Disability have two useful publications:
- Change your life with human rights
- We have human rights