In June, Robert Martin was elected to serve a four-year term on the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. He is the first person with a learning disability to serve at the United Nations (UN).
The Committee monitors how countries implement the United Nations Convention on the rights of persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). It is made up of 18 disability experts from around the world. This past October, New Zealand signed on to the Optional Protocol, which will enable individual New Zealanders to make their complaints directly to the Committee.
Robert's election took place during the June Conference of State Parties to the UNCRPD, an annual meeting for signatories. Robert first addressed the UN during the drafting of the UNCRPD over a decade ago as a representative of Inclusion International, a global federation of family-based organisations advocating for the human rights of people with intellectual disabilities. As well as contributing to the drafting of the Convention, he attended the signing as part of the government delegation in 2007.
The New Zealand government nominated Robert as the representative for the Asia-Pacific region. His nomination was supported by then-minister for Disability Issues the Hon. Tariana Turia and Disability Rights Commissioner Paul Gibson.
Robert is a founding member of disabled person's organisation People First and worked as a self-advocacy advisor with IHC. In 2008, Robert was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit.
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