A generation ago, people with disabilities had a revolutionary idea. If they could get the world to agree on words that could be drafted into a Convention declaring the human rights of people with disabilities, that Convention could be used as a means of addressing the inequities experienced by many people.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) contains 11,350 words. While they are the basis of advocacy by a relatively small group of self/advocates and lawyers, to date these words appear to have little impact on bringing about change in people’s everyday lives in Aotearoa New Zealand.
We want to change this. We want to encourage people to use these words to make a difference, so that future generations have a Convention that is real. This conference offers a forum for people to come together to address Convention issues and develop recommendations for action. We have chosen nine rights that we would like to focus on, and have arranged conference streams around these rights.
We have invited several Aotearoa New Zealand and international keynote speakers who have lived experience of disability. These presenters are experts in their fields and serve as role models for young New Zealanders. Some of our speakers were involved in gathering momentum for the Convention at its inception, drafting the words of the Convention, interpreting those words when Aotearoa New Zealand’s response to the Convention was examined in Geneva in 2014, and giving life to those words now in Aotearoa New Zealand. In addition to the keynote presenters, the conference is targeted to include a wide cross section of the disability sector, to provide a comprehensive understanding of the gaps between what the Convention says, what we are currently doing, and what can be done in the future.
At the conclusion of the conference we will spend two hours together summarising the different themes that have emerged from conference presentations and discussion amongst participants. We will then produce a synopsis of conference proceedings, which will be published on this website as a publicly available report.
The conference proceedings may also be used by civil society (non government) organisations when they outline issues that are sent to the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), which monitors governments’ implementation of the Convention. At its 2018 meeting in Geneva, we will ask that committee to make recommendations to the Aotearoa New Zealand Government about things that need to be changed to make the Convention real for New Zealanders.