Governance of the monitoring project

Effective governance is fundamental to the success of an organisation or programme. The characteristics of effective governance are described in a number of resources across different sectors in New Zealand and overseas. We have drawn on these references to collate a list of characteristics (sections 4.1 – 4.6 below) relevant to the CCMG that provide a framework to consider the effectiveness of the governance of the monitoring.

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Characteristics of effective governance for monitoring projects

Effective governance includes the following characteristics:

  • Clarity about its purpose and direction

Transparent function distinct from other groups

Clear scope for the group (described in terms of reference or similar)

  • Provides strategic leadership

Develops policies and activities that are consistent with its scope and purpose

Maintains a focus on learning and improving - actively monitors and reviews its effectiveness

  • Has the right people on board for its responsibilities

Membership represents the diverse community of disabled people

Membership includes governance expertise

Membership includes monitoring and research expertise

  • Is run effectively and efficiently and makes group meetings count

Clear expectations of members in preparing for meetings, participating in meetings and communicating meeting activity

Adequate funding for members’ participation

Adequate secretariat support for members

  • Is accountable and transparent.

Effective governance has a clear purpose and direction

Clear scope

CCMG strengths 
The group members are committed to the success of the monitoring and understand the importance of disabled people led monitoring.
Opportunities for development Defining the scope of the CCMG to clearly distinguish between operational matters to be managed by the monitoring team and governance functions to be managed by the CCMG.


Clearly defining the scope of the governance group improves its efficiency as members’ time is focused where they can add most value. The scope of governance groups is usually defined and documented in clear terms of reference. The memorandum of understanding between the DPOs in establishing the CCMG goes some way towards this but could be strengthened with greater detail.

The CCMG were named by government and it makes sense but their role has never really been defined. (IMM stakeholder)

The governance function for the monitoring is best focused on:

  • Leading the development of the monitoring framework and reporting
  • Decisions on who to employ in the monitoring team and monitoring the team’s performance
  • Communicating with their DPOs and the wider sector about the monitoring.

Decisions relating to other operational matters fall outside the scope of a governance group. They can be managed by the monitoring team and reported to the governance group.

Maintaining a focus on governance instead of operational issues has been described by group members and other stakeholders as a challenge for the group that has impacted its leadership and strategic direction setting of the monitoring. At times, a focus on operational decisions has resulted in delays in making the decisions which have impacted the monitoring team’s ability to work efficiently.

The monitoring team leader was spoken of very highly by CCMG members, other monitoring team members and stakeholders in the wider disability sector. The CCMG was described as functioning more effectively in recent times with a strong project leader in place to effectively manage the project management matters. Maintaining an effective project leader should be prioritised for the success of the monitoring.

Effective governance has a transparent function

Strengths for the CCMG  The disabled people led monitoring has a clear mandate and funding from Cabinet, and support from other IMM agencies.
Opportunities for development  Clarify the functions of the CCMG and the DPO Coalition, and how they differ, to strengthen the leadership function of the CCMG.




The DPO Coalition, whose function is not related to the CCMG, was established in 2012.

Suppose – what’s very unusual is that the Convention Coalition actually was set up before the DPO Coalition which is the governance group. A bit like the cart before the horse. (DPO)

The two groups have different purposes:

  • DPO Coalition: Work with government to develop and implement the Disability Action Plan (DAP) in partnership with government.
  • CCMG: Govern the disabled people led monitoring component of the UNCRPD IMM.

The same DPOs participate in both groups (with small differences as the groups evolve over time). All DPOs are represented in the DPO Coalition by two people holding senior governance and management positions (for example, a president and a chief executive). The group has included a facilitator to strengthen its function while it has developed.

Some DPOs use the same representative for the DPO Coalition and the CCMG while others use a different representative for each. Where DPOs are not represented by the same people in both groups, the leadership can be distanced from the activity of the CCMG and have less awareness of its operation. Members who represent their DPOs on both groups face an increased demand on their capacity, which they often have difficulty meeting.

At times the boundaries in the functions of each group have blurred. For example:

  • Some monitoring ssues have been carried from the CCMG to the DPO Coalition meetings for decisions

This has raised confusion. Sometimes people, if they have felt perhaps annoyed by a decision the DPOs made in the context of the CCMG, they would have an attempt to bring up their frustration at the Coalition. (stakeholder)

  • Some government agencies have made requests for input from the CCMG on issues outside the scope of the monitoring.

Lack of clarity about the scope of the two groups is evident amongst monitoring stakeholders.

The two organisations creates confusion for the people involved and the people looking in. People often confuse them. And it’s often the same organisations and people in both. (stakeholder)

There is an opportunity to revisit the governance structure to provide clarity and increase its effectiveness.

Both have to be there but it’s always been who does the CCMG report to. It should report to the organisations. There has to be clear terms of reference. (DPO)

Options include:

  • Absorbing the function of the CCMG into the DPO Coalition would provide clarity about governance and has the potential to reduce workload and lead to a more efficient and effective governance structure. However, some stakeholders are concerned about the potential conflict of interest between the CCMG’s monitoring function and the DPO Coalition’s implementation role. Potential conflicts of interest are not unusual in sector governance groups and may be managed by open acknowledgement of its existence and transparency in how potential conflicts are managed.

DPO Coalition could absorb the role of the CCMG. We all have different views on how that might work but the DPO Coalition would be the people who govern that umbrella organisation and make the real decisions about things. (DPO)

  • Disbanding the CCMG and establishing a new legal entity in its place. The new legal entity could be governed by the DPO Coalition and could be the fundholder for the monitoring. This would strengthen independence from government by taking the fundholder back from ODI, who has held the role temporarily and reluctantly. This approach would require the support of all DPOs and resources to establish.
  • Maintaining the existence of two groups but formalising the requirements of the role of DPO representatives (discussed below).

Overall, the CCMG adds a lot of value to the work of government. It’s a mechanism to ensure that government is accountable and that the DPOs and disabled people across NZ are well represented. That they are part of the decision-making process. (government stakeholder)

Effective governance provides strategic leadership

Strengths for the CCMG  The leadership role of the DPO members and the objectives of the disabled people led monitoring have been established by Cabinet.
Opportunities for development Develop a monitoring framework in partnership with disability sector stakeholders that sets out monitoring priorities and appropriate monitoring measures to deliver the objectives.


A governance group’s most important role is setting the long-term direction for the and planning the strategies to achieve the organisation’s goals. This involves:

  • Developing policies and activities that are consistent with its scope and purpose
  • Maintaining a focus on learning and improving through active review of effectiveness.

The governance of the monitoring – if it’s run properly the governance should not be costly. They should be monitoring the process of the [project lead] and ensuring they are following the process. (stakeholder)

The CCMG’s objectives were established at its formation: to coordinate an ethical mechanism for disabled peoples’ input to monitoring of disability rights. The role of the CCMG as a governance group is determining how the objectives will be achieved and overseeing implementation.

Development of a monitoring framework through a process involving consultation with the sector and expert input will enable the CCMG to build support across the sector and will provide structure for the monitoring. The development of a monitoring framework is further discussed in section 6.2.

International context for governance structures

Where the governing body has set clear strategic direction that aligns with the UNCRPD, with supporting action plans that include ownership and timeframes – and where the governing body takes responsibility for ensuring these are monitored against specific indicators – we can assume that these governing bodies are at least minimally effective. Internationally, only New Zealand and Australia seem to meet these criteria for effectiveness.

Effective governance has the right people on board for its responsibilities

Strengths for the CCMG

All DPOs are represented in the group.

Some members have governance experience through participation in DPO governance and in the DPO Coalition.

The CCMG members were trained by the project lead in the Disability Rights Promotion International methodology.

Opportunities for development  Further invest in developing the governance skills of CCMG members.

The group could include some other perspectives which are currently underrepresented (for example family/whānau of disabled people, youth, some ethnic groups (Pacific people, Asians), new immigrants). People could be included as permanent members or seconded to the group.

Include or second research expertise in the group to support the development of a monitoring framework and CCMG technical decision making.


DPOs nominate members holding various positions to represent their organisation in the CCMG. The memorandum of understanding states:

Each organisation’s Board will appoint a disabled representative to participate in meetings and planning on its behalf.  It may also arrange to appoint a replacement representative to attend when the appointed representative is unavailable.

DPO representatives are asked to put aside their personal views and represent their organisations in discussions of difficult decisions about a challenging project. This challenge is not unique to the CCMG. The former Chair of the UNCRPD Committee described similar challenges in the UNCRPD Committee itself. Members had to be reminded to leave aside descriptions of their own lived experiences of disability or issues related to their own disabilities to focus on the agenda of the group.

In governing the monitoring, group members need to collectively have:

  • Lived experience of disability: The UNCRPD requires the CCMG’s component of the IMM to be led by disabled people.
  • Governance skills and experience: Effective functioning of the monitoring requires skilled governance. 
  • Monitoring and research expertise: Members make sometimes technical decisions in guiding the monitoring. Technical expertise is essential in developing a monitoring framework. Decisions should be informed by the input of appropriate monitoring and research expertise.

The big thing is they should have the ability to put into the research. That’s a mechanism to ensure the right people are recruited and the research is done appropriately. (DPO)

The DPOs have been limited in the amount of resource they can invest in the development of their representatives’ governance skills. Stakeholders frequently commented that DPOs were under-resourced and in high demand from various advisory and steering groups across government and the disability sector. Members with governance experience are likely to be over committed or working at capacity.

The DPOs may not currently have monitoring, research and governance expertise available or spare capacity for those with this experience. Expertise in these areas could be provided by project team members or an external expert. If this option is adopted, a core principle of their engagement should be creating as many opportunities as possible to build the capability of the DPO members over time.

International context regarding monitoring governance funding

International approaches in establishing independent monitoring mechanisms vary in their alignment to the Paris Principles of independence and civil society participation.

Australia: has designated the Australian Human Rights Commission, an independent statutory body, as the organisation responsible for monitoring how Australia is doing in meeting its obligations under the UNCRPD and what improvements can be made. The Australian Government has funded the establishment of the Australian Cross Disability Alliance which includes broad representation of the disability community. One stakeholder interviewed however considered the organisation of the DPOs in New Zealand to be strong by comparison.

 Austria: Has an independent Monitoring Committee responsible for the implementation of the UNCRPD. Members of the IMC are appointed by the Minister for Social Affairs. Under the Act, all members of the Committee are independent and not bound by any directives or orders. Members include representatives of DPOs, a human rights NGO, international development NGO and an academic.
There is also a Disability Ombudsman who is independent and not bound by government instructions.  However, the UN Committee for Country Review noted:

“The monitoring committee does not have its own budget and appears to lack the independence required by the principles relating to the status and functioning of national institutions for protection and promotion of human rights (the Paris Principles).”

The United Kingdom: has designated three National Human Rights Institutions to monitor implementation of the UNCRPD. These are the Equality and Human Rights Commission, the Scottish Human Rights Commission, and the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission. The rules governing the composition, mandate and working methods follow the Paris Principles of independence and civil participation. The NHRI bodies ensure participation through legislation such as the Equality Act 2006 (UK).  This Act establishes the Disability Committee which is a statutory decision-making committee, of which at least half of the members must be disabled people and the chair must be (or have been) a disabled person.

Canada: The Continuing Committee of Officials on Human Rights has the responsibility for the monitoring of the CRPD. The Canadian government determined that it could meet the monitoring functions in respect of the Convention through existing mechanisms. The Canadian Human Right Commission disagreed with this position in its 2016 report.  However, a Parallel Report produced by the Coalition of Canadian Disabled Persons Organisation noted Canada had not designated an independent mechanism to promote, protect and monitor the implementation of the Convention. While the Canadian HRD has the legislative basis to act as the monitoring body it lacks the resources to do so, and is also limited by a narrowly focused federal mandate.

Effective governance represents the diversity of the disability community

One product of the DPO Coalition was the establishment of formal criteria organisations are required to meet to qualify as DPOs. It is expected that CCMG member organisations will meet the DPO criteria although some currently do not.

All the DPOs who meet the DPO Coalition’s criteria for holding DPO status are represented in the CCMG. The memorandum of understanding includes a statement allowing other DPOs to be added to the group. The only barrier to entry identified by the CCMG is organisations meeting the DPO requirements.

Additional eligible DPOs may be invited to become a member of this Convention Coalition.

Stakeholders reported some perspectives are underrepresented in the CCMG members.

I’m sure other DPOs have said there is voices missing. It wasn’t meant to be an exclusive club. It shouldn’t always be these particular groups. One of the key components in looking at who should be on it, similar to the DPOs, is they need to have a national perspective. (DPO)

Suggestions for strengthening the representativeness of the group included:

  • Maintaining a focus on Māori perspectives, identified as a priority

The UN reports coming back focus a lot on Māori disabled and we keep pushing it but I believe there needs to be more targeted research around it. (DPO)

  • Other ethnic groups – the perspectives of Pacific peoples, Asian peoples and new immigrants to New Zealand

I would suggest that from our discussions organisationally that we’re probably not getting into the depth of some of the communities, our Māori and Pacific communities, not getting to those people. (stakeholder)

  • Family/whānau perspective – parents or other family/whānau of people with disabilities who were unable to participate themselves

A monitoring committee, particularly when we’re dealing with issues of disabled children, should include parents. It would also make sense to have on someone who could show necessary expertise in research. (Former UNCRPD chair)

  • Youth – young people with disabilities are an important group, as recognised by the focus on youth in one of the CCMG reports

Someone should be on the monitoring thing talking about us. They are a small but very vulnerable population. I just felt the views of our young people hadn’t been taken on board. (stakeholder)

  • Older people – older people represent a large portion of the population who identify as disabled but who may not be connected to DPOs particularly where disabilities were acquired later in life.

CCMG members pointed out organisations could not be invited to join the group where they did not yet exist.

The DPOs can’t be held responsible for the DPOs that can’t exist. It’s responsibility of DPOs to form other DPOs. But when it comes to monitoring there is perhaps an obligation to make sure more perspectives are at the table to govern the monitoring process. (stakeholder)

There are opportunities to include these other perspectives in the monitoring by seconding individuals, and/or including consultation and data collection in the method even if there is not a DPO able to represent them at the governance level.

International context of representing the diversity of the disabled community:

Countries reviewed as part of this study have a mandate to include people with lived experience at the governance table for monitoring implementation of the UNCRPD. Australia, Austria, the United Kingdom and New Zealand have applied this principle in practice. There are different approaches. Some countries include people with disabilities in their capacities as employees or representatives of agencies, while others include DPOs, who are also often represented by people with disabilities.

Australia and New Zealand have also included representation from the indigenous communities. However, there are opportunities for improving engagement with indigenous people with disabilities and current models could be seen as tokenistic or placatory in practice, with indigenous models for addressing issues related to their disabled communities applied sporadically.

This is in part due to historical policy and practices, but may also result from capability of the representative to engage effectively at the governance table.  This capability is not limited to indigenous people but is the case often when the need to fill the mandate at the table for a person with particular life experience overrides the need to ensure that all people at the governance table have the right skills, knowledge and experience to operate at a governance level.  Where this is missing, there is often little or no funding/ resources available to provide appropriate training to address the capability gap.

A particular gap that was seen across all countries and governing bodies was effective and appropriate representation from the mental health and learning disability communities. New Zealand’s CCMG includes representation from DPOs focused on mental health and learning disabilities which is a strength of the monitoring.

Effective governance is efficient

Part of effective governance is ensuring all issues are dealt with efficiently within the limited time available for CCMG meetings. The following factors contribute to using governance time efficiently and effectively:

  • Effective chairing
  • Clear expectations of members in preparing for meetings and participating in meetings
  • Adequate funding for members’ participation
  • Adequate secretariat support for members.

The role of the chair

The chair is committed to the group, well regarded and has a long history with the CCMG.
Opportunities for development Support the chair’s role in focusing the group on matters within scope by developing clear terms of reference.


The role of the chair is to keep the group focused on the scope of the group and to hold members accountable to the standards agreed in the terms of reference.

A lot depends on the nous of the chair who… You need to spend a lot of time talking through these issues. The chair should do deep listening and say what do we really want to tell the government. (former UNCRPD chair)

Effectiveness of a monitoring committee will depend on the standing of its chair and how well it dialogues with members of the committee. Everyone has their own barrows to push. (former UNCRPD chair)

The role has been particularly challenging to date because there are no clear terms of reference. Stakeholder and CCMG members spoke highly of the current chair’s commitment to the monitoring.

The chair also has had an important role contributing to the IMM through participation in meetings and other communications. Communication through participation has most often been provided through the chair, who has also chaired some IMM meetings. Some other CCMG members have also participated, but to a much lesser degree.

The CCMG Chair has played a very active part of the IMM. She has been to every meeting since she started. She critically read documents. Comes to the internal working group as well. Comes to all meetings and played a part. (Stakeholder)

Clear expectations of members


Members have a commitment to and passion for disability issues and lived experience of disability.

Agendas and meeting minutes are prepared and circulated with material for review in advance of the meetings. The extent to which members can invest time and resource in preparing for meetings varies.

Opportunities for development 

Setting clear expectations about preparation for meetings and holding members accountable has the potential to increase meeting productivity.

Resourcing members for meeting preparation time is likely to assist.


Materials are circulated with meeting agendas at least two weeks in advance to allow members time to review them and prepare to discuss them. However, there is variation in the time members invest in preparation. When members have not prepared, meeting time is used for summarising material instead of consensus building and decision making, hindering the group’s effectiveness and efficiency.

Once at meetings, members are expected to represent their DPOs’ perspectives, as distinct from their personal perspectives. The group benefits from the depth of knowledge and experience of the members, but discussions must be strictly limited to the group’s scope. The chair has a role in enforcing these limitations but the members should self-manage as much as possible.

People with disabilities will think about their own disability. You need a balance – people with lived experience of disability, parents, experts. A lot in the disability community say there is no substitute for lived experience. (former UNCRPD chair)

Adequate funding

CCMG members are paid meeting fees and travel costs are covered.
The monitoring budget includes travel costs for meetings. 
Opportunities for development  Fund preparation time and consider whether compensation is adequate, as the preparation time required may vary between members.
Manage the individual members’ travel requirements effectively through the fundholder.


Stakeholders provided consistent feedback that the DPOs are under resourced to meet the demand placed on their members, particularly those in leadership roles. There is a growing recognition of the need for input from disabled people in steering and advisory groups across government to contribute towards co-design of services and research and evaluation.

Members must sometimes prioritise in choosing which meetings to attend. For example, some members of the CCMG who would like to actively participate in IMM meetings are not always able to attend due to other demands for their time.

While meeting costs have been covered, limited funding has been allocated to the development of expertise. It is important that any changes in the allocation of resources  contributes to building the capacity of the DPOs and their CCMG representatives.

One stakeholder commented on the challenges in asking some DPO representatives to participate as equals in meetings with senior public servants without sufficient investment in training and development.

 Effective governance is accountable and transparent

Strengths  Some members routinely report on the CCMG to their DPOs, who consider they are well informed.
Direct communication to wider stakeholder groups through participation in meetings provides responsive communication about the monitoring.
Opportunities for development  Set clear expectations for members’ responsibilities around consulting and reporting back to their organisations to ensure DPO leaderships and memberships are engaged with the monitoring.
Agree processes for direct communication to wider stakeholder groups to ensure transparency and reflection of consensus views.


CCMG members participate in the governance group as representatives of their organisations, not as individuals. The memorandum of understanding states:

Members … will be well connected with their communities.

This requires CCMG members to:

  • Report back to their organisations from CCMG meetings to their memberships
  • Consult with their DPOs to ensure their CCMG contributions effectively represent their membership.

There is variation in how well members communicate with their organisations in both reporting back and seeking input. Where communication is minimal, there is a risk that members no longer represent the views of their DPOs and DPOs become disengaged with the monitoring they are tasked with governing.

Communication through participation relies on the chair representing the views of the CCMG member organisations and the monitoring findings. This information has been received by the IMM on the understanding that it represents the views of all CCMG members and the monitoring. IMM members have noted however that some issues raised by CCMG organisations in separate meetings have not been represented in IMM meetings.

One thing that strikes me as odd is that the DPOs we have experience dealing with and working with and who have worked on the strategy and action plan, there seems to be a disconnect between them and the rest of the IMM. (government stakeholder)

Establishing a transparent process for informing the IMM outside formal reports would strengthen the CCMG’s ability to best represent the monitoring findings. It would also increase the confidence of the IMM and wider disability sector that the information provided represents the findings of the monitoring rather than the personal views of the members involved. The process could include:

  • Involving the research team in responding to requests
  • Feeding back to CCMG members on the information provided in IMM meetings. CCMG members must be responsible for subsequent reporting back to their organisations).

These communication requirements could be strengthened by formalising them in the governance group’s terms of reference.


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