Robert Martin is New Zealand’s candidate for the 2016 election of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. photo 1If elected, it is believed that Robert Martin may be the first person with a learning disability in the world to serve on the UN Committee.  Robert is a leader amongst the New Zealand disability community, having also helped to write the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and as a recipient of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

 

Robert Martin is also one of the founding members of People First New Zealand Ngā Tāngata Tuatahi. On the subject of Robert’s nomination People First National Chairperson Hamish Taverner said “He supports us People First members and he helps us speak up for our rights.  He is the right candidate for the position. People with learning disability should be around the table and represented.  By having Robert there, the United Nations will know more about people with learning disability and we will have a voice.”

 

Robert travelled again to New York in June 2015, together with the Minister for Disability Issues, Nicky Wagner, Megan McCoy, Director – Office for Disability Issues, and Cindy Johns, People First National Manager. It was a great chance for them to talk to people from around the world about Robert’s nomination for the next UN Committee that will be responsible for checking how countries are going on disability issues.

 

Some of the messages Robert Martin spoke up about while at the UN were:

  • “Disabled children should grow up in a caring family”
  • “the right to live and be involved in a community is very important”
  • “negative attitudes towards disabled people are a barrier to community living.”

 

At an event where people were talking about institutions, he said:

  • “the things you take for granted, I do not.”
  • “my life in institutions meant I had nothing and my life was not my own.”
  • “Institutions are from yesteryear and they should all be shut down.”

 

People First New Zealand wishes Robert all the best for the elections for the United Nations Committee which will be held in June 2016 in New York.