“Running for election to become a member of the United Nations Disability Convention Examining Committee isn’t about the people at Geneva ,” says Robert Martin, life member of People First and DPA Kaituitui. “It’s about getting things done for disabled people.”
Robert and assistant Cindy Johns accompanied the Minister of Disability Issues, the Hon Nicky Wagner and other government officials to New York in early June to attend the State Parties Conference. The conference is an annual event for countries who are working to implement the Disability Convention.
Robert was nominated for the 2016 election of Examining Committee members by the New Zealand Government and at the conference he was introduced as a candidate. (The Committee meets with countries who have signed the Disability Convention every three or four years in Geneva to measure their progress implementing the Convention.)
Robert says he believes that having someone with a learning disability on the Examining Committee would show everyone how to be inclusive.
Because he grew up in institutions he believes passionately in deinstitutionalisation and the right of disabled people to live in the community and have a life of their own choice.
As well as lived experience, Robert also has extensive experience nationally and internationally as an advocate for people with disabilities. His contribution was highly valued in the negotiation and development of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (the Disability Convention). He is also a well-known public speaker, for example Robert was the first person with a learning disability to address the United Nations.
If you want to learn more about Robert and his life he has worked with author John McRae on a book, recently published, called “Becoming a person”.