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Sea-change : negotiating the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities - a New Zealand perspective : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Philosophy in Social Policy at Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
(CRPD) was the first human rights convention of the 21st century. It was
notable because of the high levels of involvement stakeholders – disabled
people – had in the negotiations process. This project looks at the role
played by the disabled New Zealanders in the New Zealand delegation to the
Ad Hoc Committee considering the text for the CRPD. It examined to what
extent the disability rights movement slogan ‘nothing about us, without us’
was reflected in this process. Through interviews with disabled people who
had represented NGOs, national human rights institutions and disabled
people’s organisations at the UN, it finds that disabled people were
instrumental in drafting a convention that addressed real-life human rights
issues for disabled people.
Using Stienstra’s (2003) framework for assessing the effectiveness and
value of consultation process, it also finds that CRPD negotiations show how
the involvement of stakeholders in consultation processes can greatly
enhance both the process itself and the results. The process represents a
sea-change in terms of how consultations with disabled people should be
conducted. With genuine interest and willingness to listen to the lived
experience of disability, governments have much to gain from genuine
engagement with disabled people and their representative organisations.
The implications for social policy are shown to demonstrate how ‘nothing
about us, without us’ can move beyond being a mere slogan. When correctly
applied during consultations, it can become a transformative and powerful
guiding principle for policymakers and legislators alike.