This page provides information about the Ombudsman’s role under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (the Convention) is an international human rights agreement that New Zealand signed up to in 2007.
The purpose of the Convention is to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities.
Article 33 says that states should establish a framework, including one or more independent mechanisms, to 'promote, protect and monitor' progress in implementation of the Disability Convention.
In New Zealand the independent mechanisms are:
- the New Zealand Convention Coalition (a group of national disabled people’s organisations)
- the Human Rights Commission
- the Ombudsman.
The independent mechanisms work together to:
- monitor and report on implementation of the Convention
- report to the United Nations on implementation of the Convention and on specific issues
- advocate for specific issues important to people with disabilities
- provide advice on legislation, policy and practice affecting people with disabilities
- produce reports to Parliament
The Ombudsman’s role is carried out under the Ombudsmen Act. Under that Act, we receive, and where appropriate, investigate complaints about the administrative conduct of state sector agencies which relate to implementation of the Convention.
When investigating a complaint the Ombudsman considers whether the agency has acted reasonably and fairly. This assessment includes looking at whether the agency has taken the principles of the Convention into account.
The Ombudsman acts independently and impartially, and aims to recommend reasonable solutions. The Ombudsman does not investigate every complaint, and must establish that they have the power to investigate, and that an investigation is necessary.
The Ombudsman can also initiate investigations without receiving a complaint if they identify an issue of concern that needs to be addressed.
On 7 August 2014 the second joint report to Parliament on the work of the independent mechanisms was launched.
Our annual reports contain information and case studies illustrating the Ombudsman’s approach to Disability Convention-related complaints.
On 25 November 2015, together with the Human Rights Commission and the Convention Coalition Monitoring Group, we published a guide on reasonable accommodation of persons with disabilities. You can read the guide in Easy Read, NZ Sign Language, PDF and Microsoft Word format here.