A human rights approach

Human rights are the basic rights and freedoms that every person in the world should have. This holds for people living with dementia and their family caregivers. 

New Zealand was one of the founding members of the United Nations, and played a key role in drafting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

The Human Rights Act was introduced in 1993 with a focus on protecting New Zealanders against unlawful discrimination. Everyone living in New Zealand is entitled to these rights.

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities gives voice, visibility and legitimacy to disabled people and their issues in New Zealand and the rest of the world.It is aimed at protecting the dignity of persons with disabilities and ensuring their equal treatment under the law including the right to health services, education and employment.


A key way to improve people’s lives is to ensure people affected by dementia have access to their human rights.

Among other things, people affected by dementia have the right to:

  • Be free from discrimination  (Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Article 4)
  • Accessible environments (Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Article 9)
  • Equal recognition before the law (Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Article 12)
  • Access to justice (Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Article 13)
  • Living independently and being included in the community (Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Article 19)
  • Personal mobility (Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Article 20)
  • Being able to access the “highest attainable standard of physical and mental health”  (International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (IESCR), Article 12.)
  • Being able to access “… health services needed by persons with disabilities specifically because of their disabilities, including early identification and intervention as appropriate, and services designed to minimise and prevent further disabilities, including among…older persons.” Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Article 25
  • Rehabilitation and support services (Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Article 26)
  • Right to work and employment (Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Article 27)
  • Adequate standard of living, social protection (Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Article 28)
  • Participation in political and public life (Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Article 29)
  • Participation in cultural life, recreation, leisure and sport (Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Article 30)