Robert Martin's historic election to UN disabilities committee

Mr Martin at his nomination at the UN (Nicola Garvey)
Mr Martin at his nomination at the UN (Nicola Garvey)

New Zealander Robert Martin has made history at the UN, as the first person with a learning disability to be elected to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

"The hard work begins, and I know it's going to be a lot of hard work," he says.

"I don't think that people with a learning disability... that it's properly recognised we can do a lot of stuff, we can actually work."

The Kiwi activist's term runs from 2017 until 2020.

"Robert is well respected for his long history of advocacy work on disabled people's rights both domestically and internationally," Disability Issues Minister Nicky Wagner says.

"His election to the Committee is important because it is the first time that a person with a learning disability has been represented at the highest level. It's a world first."

Mr Martin, a Whanganui native, received a brain injury during birth. He grew up experiencing abuse as he was moved between state institutions -- later leading a campaign to close those institutions.

In 2008 he was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

Robert Martin's historic election to UN disabilities committee

Mr Martin has been a long-time leader of People First New Zealand, an advocacy group fighting for the rights and inclusion of all people with learning disabilities.

"Robert was instrumental in the development of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities through Inclusion International, a global organisation for people with learning disabilities," Ms Wagner says.

"He is now able to bring over a decade of experience and leadership at the international level on the Convention to his role as a Committee member."

Newshub.